How to Style a Pastel Dessert Display

Pastel Candy Buffet

Credit: Jenna Rae Cakes/Tracey Kiansky Photography/One Plus One Design via Weddings in Winnipeg

It’s a couple of years now since candy buffets burst onto the wedding scene, and for a while there, it seemed like everyone HAD to have one. That trend has calmed a little, but I still think that a well-designed dessert display makes for an amazing focal point at a wedding, and one that will definitely put your guests in a happy mood! That’s especially true when we’re talking pastel weddings, because the mix of colours that can be achieved with a few sweet treats is particularly complementary to a mismatched pastel colour scheme. So I thought that we should break down how to go about creating a pastel dessert display, step by pretty step. You can use these same instructions for any colour scheme really – just adapt the dessert buffet display ideas here as needed! *Links in bold denote affiliate links. The cost to you remains the same, but SBB may receive a commission for any sales made.

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Dessert & Candy Buffet Alternatives

Top 10 Candy Buffet Dessert Table Alternatives

Over the years, I’ve seen all kinds of fun cakes and not-cakes at weddings but by far the biggest trend has been the candy buffet or dessert table. And it’s not hard to see why, since it’s more than just a dessert – it doubles up as decor, as a favour – even as entertainment. It creates a gorgeous focal point in one part of your reception, a striking visual reinforcement of your colours or theme. I love these tables, but what I love even more maybe are the ways that even this alternative has sprouted alternatives! With personalised menus being a big trend for weddings, the specialised food station really comes into its own, and can be a fun twist to the dessert table, especially if you’re planning something a bit different like a brunch wedding. And it’s not limited to food either – you can apply the same principle of taking a basic treat and turning it into a visual feast and apply it to drinks as well. Here are ten of my favourite dessert and candy buffet alternatives, along with some ideas for creating the look at your wedding. *Links in bold denote affiliate links. The cost to you remains the same, but SBB may receive a commission for any sales made.


What To Do Instead Of A Candy Bar

Credit: Abby Rose Photo via Bridal Guide

Not a far cry from a dessert table, the great advantage of a cookie or biscuit bar is that it’s something you and your friends and family can DIY, since it’s possible to make ahead of time if properly stored. You could ask your loved ones to each contribute a specialty, or you could make a few bases and then provide toppings and dips for guests to choose their own. Add little glassine bags to the spread and encourage guests to take a selection for the trip home or a midnight snack.

Dessert Table Alternatives Cookie Buffet Signage

Row 1: Cookie Bar Wedding Sign by Crafty Witches Decor | Row 2: Cookie Bar Banner by ByEmilySmith | Row 3: All You Need is Love and A Cookie Sign by Dainty Darling Co. (left); Wedding Cookie Buffet Sign by Vanilla Point (right) | Row 4: Custom Wedding Favor Bags by Brossie Belle


Candy Bar Alternatives

Credit: Cheryl McEwan/SouthBound Bride

I’m a big fan of this one, in case you hadn’t already noticed. I styled the one pictured above, and I had so much fun playing around with different artisan breads and cheeses. I think this makes a great accompaniment to a pre-reception wine tasting, or an alternative to a sweet dessert for savoury-loving couples. You can have a cheese cake as your centrepiece and then surround it with breads, fruits, chutneys, etc. or spread out the cheeses themselves in belljars and on different stands and platters. Make sure there’s a variety of heights and include textures like ribbon tied around loaves or cutlery.

Dessert Table Alternatives Cheese Table Accessories

Row 1: Wedding Cake Topper “You Complete Brie” by Dalatho | Row 2: Vintage Wedding Party Bunting by Vintage Bunting Shop (left); Sweet Dreams are Made of Cheese Sign by Old Potting Shed LTD (right) | Row 3: Cheese Board Sign by largeinkco (right) | Row 4: Cheese Markers by Impressions Stamped


Dessert Table Alternatives

Credit: Jen Fariello Photography via Martha Stewart

Speaking of savoury loving couples, charcuterie is another delicious way to spoil your guests during cocktail hour, as this couple did (don’t you love the idea of presenting it on a cart?). As always, variety is key, so get a range of meats, cheeses, breads and crackers, dips, chutneys and butters, as well as extras like different kinds of olives. Add lasercut tags or special labels so guests know what everything is. This is perfect if you have a bit of a Mediterranean theme to your decor (although it isn’t necessary, of course!) or just a rustic vibe going on.


Cake Table Alternatives

Credit: Christina Brosnan/Styled By Amber via One Fab Day

Show me the way to the next whisky bar… no need to ask why, when it looks as pretty as this one. Add cigars and this is a little paradise for the boys, one they’ll be talking about long after the big day. We have a great little DIY article on how to put your own whisky bar together from a real SouthBound bride.

Dessert Table Alternatives Whisky Cigar Bar Signage

Row 1: Whiskey Bar Sign by maliladesigns | Row 2: Custom ‘CIGAR and WHISKEY BAR’ Printable by JoJoMiMi (left); Custom Cigar Bands by iCustomLabel (right) | Row 3: Cigar Bar Sign Display Box by Elegant Signs


Cake Table Alternatives

Credit: Eat Drink Chic via Pocketful of Dreams

The perfect beach version of a candy bar – your guests will love the childhood delight of being able to build their own ice creams and sundaes and it’ll keep them cool on a summer day too. Styling the ice creams, cones and toppings to look like an old school ice cream parlour adds to the fun and nostalgia. See here for a DIY tutorial including downloads and templates if you like the look above.

Dessert Table Alternatives Ice Cream Bar Accessories

Row 1: Sundae Bar Sign by Hottomatoink2 | Row 2: Ice Cream Banner by UrEnvitedToo | Row 3: Ice Cream Stand by Beebas Shop (left); 50 Pink Striped 8oz Paper Cups by Sparkle and Comfort (right) | Row 4: DIY Printable Wedding Sign by The Arty Apples (left); Personalized Dessert Spoon Ice Cream Flat Spoons by Mushroom Wooden Craft (right)


Alternatives To Sweet Tables At Weddings

Credit: Pen N’ Paperflowers Studio & Design via Hostess With The Mostess

Okay, you KNOW that many of your guests are going to just adore this idea! I mean, who doesn’t love popcorn? By all accounts, this is a really simple alternative to a dessert bar, and one that guests can interact with if you include a number of toppings and flavourings. I love the rustic styling of the one above (you can get all the printable elements here), but you could make this work for any setting by customising the labels and table.

Dessert Table Alternatives Popcorn Bar Signage

Row 1: Mini Popcorn Box by Erickson Design | Row 2: Popcorn Seasoning by dellcovespices (left); Popcorn Bar Collection by Pen and Paper Flowers (right) | Row 3: Wedding Popcorn Bar by Details Darling Shop


What To Do Instead Of A Candy Bar

Credit: Lauren Rae Photography/Storyboard Wedding & The Perfect Palette for Aisle Society via Burnett’s Boards

If you’re hosting a morning wedding or if the bride or groom have a real passion for tea or coffee, this is a fun way to go. Provide a number of varieties, beautifully laid out, and encourage guests to try a few. Make sure you include lots of visual variety so it doesn’t just look like the tea table at a PTA meeting.


Dessert Table Alternatives Coffee Tea Bar Signage

Row 1: Coffee Bar Sign by Evergreen Design Signs | Row 2: Coffee and Tea Bar Sign by Pingooin (left); Sweet Sayings Sugar Packets by Island Life Gifts (right) | Row 3: Wedding Coffee Cups by Labels Rus


Candy Bar Alternatives

Credit: Jessica Claire/Brooke Keegan Weddings and Events via Style Me Pretty

Brunch weddings are so awesome, and the food is a big part of what makes them so fun. I love the idea of a cereal buffet (even if I personally loathe cereal) – it’s such a fun breakfasty twist on the candy buffet! This kind of cheeky twist is exactly what makes alternative food stations so fun, and a real talking point for guests. Who hopefully like cereal more than I do.

Wedding Cereal Bar Sign

Printable Cereal Bar Sign by Vintage Bells & Co.


Dessert Table Alternatives

Credit: Erin Hearts Court/Brown Paper Design via 100 Layer Cake

Make your guests feel like VIPs with their very own champagne bar! Be creative – add syrups and mixers, pretty swizzles, fruit pieces, etc.

Dessert Table Alternatives Champagne Prosecco Bar

Row 1: Sip Sip Hooray Party Banner by LantzandLady | Row 2: Bubbly Bar Sign by Avenue21Designs (left); Personalized Name Drink Stirrers by Avenue21Designs (right) | Row 3: Gold Wedding Sign by MWLdesignsLTD


Cake Table Alternatives

Credit: Olivia Morgan Photography/Southern Grace Events via Ruffled

Donut even joke, donut displays are where it’s at right now for wedding treats! And there are so many cool ways to display them, from donut walls, to towers of donuts, to donut wedding cakes, etc. etc. Yum.

Dessert Table Alternatives Donut Display DIY

Row 1: Treat Yourself Pastel Doughnut Wall by supersweetparty (left); Donut Favor Bags by Nottingham Paper Goods (right) | Row 2: Donut Stand by Freestyle Mom | Row 3: Donut Bar Lettering by Freestyle Mom (left); Donut Wall by 10th and Main Designs (right)