40 Wedding Cake Alternatives

Everyone loves a sweet dessert to end dinner and celebrate over, but some brides aren't sold on the traditional white, tiered cake. Maybe you have a traditional family recipe, or something else calls to you. No matter what the reason, check out these ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

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Cookie Bar

Does your family like to bake? Then you should have a potluck of cookies served at your wedding! Have a few relatives or friends bake a few batches of assorted cookies a day or two before the wedding, and you’re all set! Don’t forget the Mexican Wedding Cake cookies!

Macaroon Cake

An assortment of this French-inspired meringue-based cookie looks great on any table.

Pies

You simply can’t go wrong with a variety of pies. If  you’re having a fall wedding, be sure to incorporate seasonal pies like pumpkin! You can also serve individual sized pies or pie pops.

Croquembouche or Pièce Montée

This traditional French dessert is made up of small pastries arranged in a tower, with spun sugar or caramel holding it all together. In France it is commonly served at weddings or baptisms.

S’mores 

The campfire treat we all enjoyed as children never goes out of style. Use sterno cans to toast your marshmallows, and have an array of toppings from Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to specialty chocolates to incorporate into this tasty treat.

Angel Food Cake

If you’re having a summer wedding, angel food cake (topped with fresh strawberries of course) is a light and refreshing dessert.

Fresh Fruit Salad

If you prefer natural sugars over confectionery sugars, then fruit salad may be something to consider. If you serve it in a champagne glass, it ups the “wow” factor. Your vegan and gluten free friends will also be happy that they can enjoy your dessert without having to pester their waiter about the ingredients.

Cheese "Cake"

It may look like a tiered wedding cake, but this is actually made out of wheels of cheese! Choose cheeses of a sweeter variety that pair well with fruit and sweeter dessert wines. You cannot go wrong with brie!

Candy Bar

This seems to be a very popular trend over the last several years. Buy a bunch of candies in bulk in your wedding colors, and let your guests decide what treats they would like to bag up!

Fondue

Chocolate fondue is an easy and fun dessert to serve at your wedding. Have fruits, pound cake, pretzels, cookies, etc. ready to dip!

Biscotti Bar

If you and your honey are big coffee connoisseurs, a biscotti bar full of different flavors is a very unique dessert option. You can even incorporate coffee cakes and other similar treats with your hot beverage station as the evening starts to cool off.

Mason Jar Favors

No matter the type of dessert, serving it in a mason jar is not only charming, but extremely convenient. If you guests are already stuffed from dinner, and can’t possibly make room for dessert, they can take this portable jar home with them to enjoy at their own convenience.

Concessions

If you’ve ever been to a sporting event, I’m sure you’ve seen the concession employees walking through the stands with their giant trays of cracker jacks, peanuts, etc. If you’re a sport fanatic, this might be the perfect option for you! Have your servers walk around with their trays of goodies, and have your guests bag their own assortment of treats. This couple chose to serve buttered popcorn and peanut butter Jelly Belly jelly beans for their baseball themed wedding.

Caramel Apples

I recently attended a wedding with caramel apples as one of the many desserts. I could hardly believe my eyes, there were so many flavors to choose from!  S’mores, New York Cheesecake, etc. This rustic but sophisticated dessert is perfect for a fall wedding!

Breakfast for Dessert

Arrange crepes or pancakes in a stack like a cake, or have your caterer create an interactive station serving these delectable treats.

For a morning brunch wedding , serve danishes, French toast, or cinnamon rolls.

Jello

Jello may have a bad rap, but it can be served in a classy way (see below). Jello shots are not just for college kids anymore, you can serve tray passed gourmet shots during the reception too. Bet you’d never expect to see your great aunt Esther try one!

Donuts

Donuts come in so many shapes, sizes, and flavors. I know I’m not the only one that would eat them at any time of day! You can display them like a cake, or have someone fry them at your reception. There are many perks of having them fried right in front of you. You can add the toppings you want and they are still warm when you bite into them!

Cheesecake

These rich desserts come in so many different flavors, it might be hard to choose just one! In fact, it so good that a whole restaurant is based around this dessert. Serve it in pie slices or individually.

Strawberry Shortcake

This treat is the perfect way to transport your guests back to childhood. It's light and just slightly sweet, making it perfect for hot summer days.

Milkshakes or Smoothies

A retro milkshake bar, reminiscent of a vintage soda fountain in a drugstore, can be a delight for your guests! Your grandparents may even remind you that a milkshake would have cost them only a dime back in the good ol’ days. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, turn it into a smoothie bar!

Fruit Tarts

Fruit tarts are always one of my favorite dessert choices. The cream center and fresh fruit toppings are always a hit!

Cake Pops

I’m sure that everyone has seen cake pops by now, but even though they are very much a trend, I still can’t get enough. Cake pops are basically smushed up cake combined with frosting, shaped into a ball (or other shape), and dipped in chocolate. These pops are deceivingly rich, so start with just one!

Churros and Chocolate

This was only of my favorite late night snacks in Spain. Many cafes specialized in this dessert so it would be hard to avoid it! The combination of rich dark chocolate with a light and crispy churro is simply fantastic.

Truffles

These bite sized chocolates are rich and decadent. I’d imagine that these would go very quickly at a wedding, especially since you can sneak them home in your pockets or purse pretty easily!

Cereal

Rice Krispie Treats are possibly the easiest form of dessert I’ve mentioned so far. So easy, that you can make it yourself in no time at all, and at a low cost! Rice Krispies may have opened the door to this style treat, but substitute them with your favorite cereal for a whole different experience (AppleJacks anyone?).

Popcorn Buffet Station

Caramel popcorn, cheddar popcorn, dark chocolate with sea salt popcorn, and more! Gourmet popcorn bars are fun and unique and allow you to provide something savory for those without a big sweet tooth.

Flan

If you’re not familiar with Flan, you’re missing out! This custard dessert topped with a layer of caramel sauce, is popular in many Spanish speaking countries as well as western Europe. You may know it as Crème Caramel.

Cannoli

This Sicilian pastry is usually filled with a sweet creamy filling including Ricotta. Toppings include chocolate, pistachios, cherries, or candied citrus peels. If you come from an Italian family, this one seems like a no-brainer!

Gelato

You’d have to eat this really quickly, but the idea is charming! Of course you don’t have to serve it this way, you can have a gelato buffet instead. What is the difference between gelato and ice cream? Gelato is lower in fat, has a creamier dense flavor, with less air whipped into it.

Dessert Pizza

Do you love pizza? Dessert pizza can have a cookie or pizza dough base. It can be smothered with cinnamon, apples and frosting, or lots of chocolate and traditional cookie toppings. Either way, delicious!

Pudding or Mousse

Now I’m not saying you should necessarily serve Jello Pudding cups at your wedding, but there are plenty of pudding or mousse based desserts out there, like trifles for example. If you are having a rustic barn wedding, tapioca pudding served in a mason jar seems like a perfect fit!

Ice Cream

There are a ton of ways to serve ice cream at your wedding. You can serve it as a giant sundae, in an ice cream buffet, ice cream sandwiches, banana split, with bananas flambe, etc. You can really get creative with this one!

Carnival Treats

These childhood delights are sure to bring a smile to your guests’ faces. These treats are great for hot summer weddings. If you want fresh cotton candy or snow cones, you can hire a vendor to make it on site!

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Cookie Cakes

These adorable stacked cookies of different sizes look like mini tiered wedding cakes! In a clear box, these would look great as a parting wedding favor too!

Popsicles

These gourmet frozen treats are fun and fancy as well. The flavor combinations can be incredible and inventive. Try mango/chili, basil/nectarine, honey lavender with a goat cheese base, ginger/carrot, etc. Another popular way of serving popsicles (which you may have seen circling Pinterest) is by letting the popsicle melt to create a fruity champagne!

One Cake per Table

You’re probably wondering why this made the list, but it is still an alternative to a traditional cake, I swear! Have a different, very small cake on each guest table. If you have 10 tables, then you can have 10 different cake flavors! It also encourages your guests to get up and mingle, so they can sample many different cakes.

Cupcake Tower

This is arguably the most popular alternative to a wedding cake, but for good reasons! They come in all sorts of flavors, your guests can try many different types, and they can be decorated in any way you like!

Poached Pears

Red wine soaked poached pears are a wonderfully delicious fall wedding dessert idea. If you are having a brunch or daytime wedding, this is also a great way to finish off the meal!

Kransekake

Also known as a Wreath Cake, this is a traditional Danish and Norwegian cake served for special occasions. It is constructed with layered rings made of almond, sugar and egg whites. They can be hollow or filled with treats such as fruits, chocolates, candies, or even a bottle of wine.

Ice Box Cake

Vintage cakes are definitely making a comeback, and this one is no exception. Nabisco marketed their chocolate wafers with a recipe for this cake on the box. The recipe is simple, layer the wafers with whipped cream in between and refrigerate overnight.