Weddings are about two things: celebrating the union of two people, and providing hospitality to those who’ve come to celebrate. How you chose to do those two things is entirely up to you. That freedom extends to dessert!

Cake – Love wedding cake? Wonderful! Go for it. There are dozens of cake flavors from which to choose, with an exponential number of layer combinations. Add to that all of the possibilities in surface decoration, and you have infinite varieties of wedding cake.

Cupcakes – One step away from cake brings us to cupcakes, which are simply cake in a different form. Individual servings allow for more flavor choices. Want a dozen different flavors? You can have it with cupcakes. The downside is cost. Decorating every one of those little guys takes time. The cost per serving is more than with cake. Cupcakes are also more complicated to display, usually requiring a special stand (which can often be rented from the cupcake bakery).

Pie – Everyone loves pie! What looks and smells more like home than half a dozen pies on a table, just asking to be eaten! You can be as decadent as you want with pie, mixing and matching fillings and toppings. Pie can be served either from a buffet or dessert station, or family style, with a pie or two on each table.

Brownies, blondies, lemon bars, and the like – A great way to keep costs down, or to simply avoid cake, is to go for single-serving desserts. They are far easier to prepare and serve than cake. Caterers often have them as menu choices and if not, they’re an easily-procured bakery item. If your plan is DIY catering, brownie recipes are a mainstay of home baking. The portion sizes are smaller than cake, cupcakes, or pie, which smaller eaters and people managing their intake of sweets will appreciate.

Crème brûlée – Want to get fancy and still stay with single-servings? How about some créme brûlée! With a vanilla-flavored custard base and a torch-hardened layer of sugar on top, the presentation value is high, and the eating experience is always joyful. If you don’t like vanilla, chefs love to tinker with créme brûlée recipes to make something special.

Ice cream – I love ice cream and could eat it ’til it comes out my ears! But storing and serving ice cream for a wedding reception has its challenges. If you’re planning a summer wedding, especially if your reception will be outside, ice cream may not be your ideal dessert. But if the temperature suits, freezer space is available, and everyone can be served in a reasonable period of time, then game on!

My favorite dessert is ice cream sundaes (I just went and and made one after writing this paragraph!). You or your caterer can set up a make-your-own-sundae bar, with two or three flavors of ice cream, a selection of fruit (strawberries, bananas, and raspberries come to mind), liquid toppings like chocolate and caramel, chopped nuts and chocolate shots (or jimmies, or sprinkles, depending on where you grew up), and of course, whipped cream!

If sundaes don’t float your (banana) boat, how about ice cream cake? You get all of the features of cake, plus ice cream!

If you’re thinking ice cream cones and you’re near a city, there are food trucks like Tahaka Brothers in Baltimore who specialize in bringing ice cream to events. You’ll need a place for the truck, of course, rain is an issue, and you’ll want to allow time for everyone to get to the truck, get served, and return to the reception area.

No matter what you chose to serve for dessert, you can always uphold tradition – whatever you understand that to be – with a cutting cake. A small cake, just large enough to cut and photograph, is all that you need.

Dessert is a great opportunity to add fun and surprise to your wedding reception. Be creative, serve what you like, and have a blast!

Next time: The Wedding Planning Mindset.

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David Egan
David Egan
David L. Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a wedding and event venue in downtown Baltimore. Visit, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook.