6 steps to create a stunning DIY wedding dessert table

pink girly dessert table

A Simple Photograph via Style Me Pretty

The wedding dessert table has become a staple as many couples opt to skip the giant wedding cake for a more varied assortment of sugary goodies. After all, why choose one dessert when you could offer your guests a whole buffet table full of your favorite desserts? Not only does the dessert table offer your wedding guests more choices, it also can be more cost effective, depending on what type of desserts you’re serving, and how much of it you’re DIYing.

While a dessert table might seem pretty straightforward (cakes + donuts = success, right?) event styling rookies might have a tough time creating a DIY wedding dessert table that looks as drool-worthy as the sweet spreads on Pinterest. So how do you create a beautiful and affordable dessert table in a pinch? We’ve broken down the process with a few steps and resources to help guide your way.

Step 1: Pick a theme

As with all other elements of your wedding day, you’re going to want to follow some kind of cohesive theme when it comes to your dessert table. Having a Gatsby-themed art-deco wedding? Make sure to incorporate any colors and motifs from your wedding theme to the dessert table. Picking cake plates, decor and tablecloths or a backdrop within this theme is a good starting point. (More on decor and dishes later…)

For extra added impression, add some themed touches to your desserts — you can do this with a fun cake topper, edible glitter, colorful floral touches… you get the idea. No need to get too fancy with the food — plain white frosted desserts provide the perfect palette to make these themes or colors pop.

monochrome art decor dessert table

Jen Huang Photography via Lael Cakes

2. Height

The difference between a blah and beautiful wedding dessert table is HEIGHT — this is the one key element that will turn an ordinary table full of desserts into a Pin-worthy masterpiece. It creates depth and visual interest, and allows you to emphasize the most important elements of your dessert table, like the cake.

So how does one achieve height on their dessert table? Cake stands are an obvious choice, and allows for you to create a cute display for each dessert. Make sure to find a varied assortment of sizes and heights — having a table full of cake stands that are the same height wouldn’t have quite the same visual effect you’re looking for.

If you don’t have a bunch of cake stands to use for your dessert table, you can find some fairly affordable options if you search around! Our recommendations:

  • Home goods! Get thee to a Home Goods and find incredibly affordable cake plates. Just do it.
  • Pier 1 has a few basic glass and ceramic cake plates for under $20
  • Ikea is one of the best places to get affordable decor for cheap. Cake stands are no exception!

dessert table decor

Katie Vowels for Annie McElwain via Style Me Pretty

If you don’t have the budget, time or energy to find cake stands for your dessert table, you have a few options to add height to your dessert table:

  1. DIY it: You can create your own cake stands! We love this DIY tutorial by The Bearfoot Baker and this DIY tutorial by Wedding Chicks. You’ll be whipping up the perfect dessert table stands in no time!
  2. Use vintage crates, boxes, or whatever else you can find that will create height: Who says you need to use cake stands? If your wedding has a rustic theme, old wooden crates or boxes could work just as well to create height. Or, cover your stands with fabric or the tablecloth to disguise the stand. Easy!

dessert table backdrop

Sarah Kathleen Photographer

3. Decor elements

Okay, you have a theme for your dessert table and you know you’ve got to add some height. Great! Just a few more steps… bear with me now!

You’re dessert table is going to look pretty darn sparse if you don’t have something else on the surface to fill it out, visually speaking. The easiest way to fill out your dessert table with decor is to add flowers, candles and/or whatever else you’re using for decor. Make sure when you’re talking with your florist (or whoever is doing your flowers) that you mention needing a few extra vases for your dessert table. Adding in candles might not be a bad idea either.

There’s no fast and quick rule to how many vases, candles or extra decor you’ll need — a lot of this will depend on how much space you’ll have on the table once the desserts are placed. Make sure that your table doesn’t end up looking too crowded and cluttered, though! Give each dessert stand and piece of decor some space. Remember you might also have serving utensils, silverware or dishes on the the tables as well — this may affect how many pieces of decor you’ll need to add.

rustic dessert table

Smitten Studio

4. A backdrop

Okay, technically you can do without a backdrop, but it really helps to call out your dessert table and give it that extra-special touch, and doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Some amazing backdrop ideas we’ve seen include:

  • Ballons
  • Ribbon garlands
  • Photo garlands
  • Marquis lights
  • A simple fabric backdrop

signage

Ameris via 100 Layer Cake

5. Signage

Your guests are going to want to know what tasty desserts they can choose from! Make sure to clearly mark the desserts with place cards or other simple DIY signage. Nuff said.

cupcake signage

Jen Rodriguez via Ruffled Blog

6. Your desserts!

Okay last step — make sure you have your desserts planned out and ready to go on the big day! If you’re doing a DIY wedding dessert table, that probably means you’ll need to do more than just pick up your wedding cake from the bakery. If you caterer or baker isn’t planning on delivering your wedding desserts, make sure you have a trusted family member or friend assigned to pick up the cake and any other cupcakes/donuts/cookies/whatever that you’ll need for the dessert table.

(While you’re at it, read our tips for saving money on your wedding cake…)

In terms of quantity, think of it this way — it’s always better to have more food than not enough, and that goes doubly for desserts! A good rule of thumb from Sweet and Saucy Shop is:

  • For a table full of mini-desserts (no cake), allocate about 3-4 mini-desserts per person. (Editor’s note: take this down to 1-2 mini-desserts per person if you’re also having cake.)
  • You don’t want to overwhelm guests with options, so choose 2-3 more options than what you’re allotting per guests. For example, if you are assuming 3 mini-desserts per person, you should have about 5-6 dessert options.

That means if you’re having a dessert table and a wedding cake for 100 people, you should have about:

  • 2-3 servings (including cake slices) per person, or about 250 dessert servings total.
  • 4-5 different types of desserts to choose from

frosted wedding cake

Kristin Sweeting via 100 Layer Cake

Now that you’ve gotten all the planning tips you need to create the best DIY wedding dessert table ever, it’s time to go forth and conquer! Which of you brides are planning on DIYing your dessert tables, and how did you accomplish a stunning spread? Let us know in the comments!