dessert bar 101: styling

July 30th, 2013 | Posted by Hello Love in Sweets - (Comments Off)
(This is part two of a series on creating the ultimate dessert bar. Find part one on the dessert bar basics here.)
Before the desserts tempt you guests’ sweet tooth, you will want the beautiful styling of the table to be the eye candy that draws them over. (It’s also just a good excuse to create another amazing styled moment. As if you needed one?) Some of the most beautiful elements of the most beautiful dessert bars are the table props, backdrops and styling flourishes. Extra attention to detail here will really make your dessert bar pop. Read on for our tips and suggestions on how to style your table like a pro.

Tip #1: Room Placement, Lighting, Accessibility
It may sound obvious, but I’ve set up quite a few weddings that didn’t fully realize the significance of these three factors, resulting in beautifully styled dessert bars hidden in dark corners and photographs pocked by unfortunate wall markings (thermostats, electrical wires, venue advertisements, etc.) Something I have really learned in this business is that good photographs aren’t a guarantee: you have to set the scene for them, so:
- Make sure you choose a spot that has plenty of light and that the wall flanking your bar is free of any eyesores (or that you will be able to hide any that may exist with your backdrop and styling details).
Consider guest accessibility as well. Dessert bars imbibe a solicitous, come-and-go vibe, and you want your guests to be able to snack between dance party breaks, so make sure that there is plenty of room and access from both sides to your bar. Placement near the dance floor and bar areas are ideal.
Tip #2: Get Creative with Serving Pieces
A truly beautiful dessert will look amazing no matter what it is served on, but here we are talking about taking it to that next level of knock-your-socks-off styling. The classic approach is to forage or rent a collection of lovely milk glass cake stands, and this can be utterly beautiful. BUT. If you’re looking for something a little different and equally as charming (which of course you are because you’re here!), try some of these ideas:
For something Rustic:
- mix up materials: galvanized stands, vintage silvers and coppers, woods and whites look beautiful together
- use wooden slabs of varying thickness (alone, turn them into cake stands, or layer them with cake stands)
- rent vintage wooden crates, egg boxes and scales as props
- beautiful woodcut platters and cutting boards with vintage silver
- berry baskets paired with vintage hankies are always lovely
- rent interesting furniture pieces in place of tables
For something Modern:
- acrylic stands come in all shapes and sizes (really. for anything from cake pops to macaron towers to cake knives)
- BHLDN and the like carry some striking unusual stands inspired by everything from sea creatures to royal parties
- pair statement pieces like cut geode platters or artisan ceramics with understated white (more affordable) pieces.

dessert bar 101: the basics

July 23rd, 2013 | Posted by Hello Love in Sweets - (Comments Off)


Over the next few posts, we are going to walk you through the how-tos of assembling a dreamy dessert bar that strikes the perfect balance with style, taste, and practicalities. There are a lot of details to cover to pull off a beautifully styled table: menu, servers and flatware, props, backdrops, and signage to name a few, and then there are all the practicalities like quantities, organization, and utility. It can be a bit overwhelming for the novice and professional alike. But take a walk through our dessert bar boot camp over the next couple of weeks and you will be fully prepared to create a striking spread that even Martha would approve.


I like to think of the dessert bar as a party within a party, and like a party, it takes planning to pull it off. So let’s start with the basics.

First up: the venue, date and event style.

These determine the styling direction for your table, and play an important role in menu design. Are you having a casual backyard dinner party with long tables and cafe lights? Is your event more rustic – set in a barn/stable/mill, or at a family ranch estate? Are you going for a super-styled bash set in a white-walled gallery or loft with warehouse windows and exposed brick walls? A more traditional ballroom? A destination escape set amongst palms and sand? It may seem obvious, but it’s important to have this figured out first before jumping into a menu tasting or design.

Next: menu design!

So now that you have your style and venue chosen, it’s time to choose your sweets. The most important factor is that you serve items that you love, because even if you have the most beautifully styled dessert bar anyone has seen, it’s going to be a flop with food that is unsatisfying. Use your event date and style as a guide for brainstorming:

-Think about the season your event will take place in – what are some flavors, fruits and experiences that come to mind?

- Think about the weather, too. If your event is in the heart of summer you will probably want to serve treats that will be refreshing (and possibly even frozen). If guests will be bundling up and trekking through snow to attend, you’ll want at least a few options that will keep guests warm and toasty.

- Think about your style, and the types of foods you associate with them. For example, something rustic usually calls to mind pies, fresh fruits, shades of brown (caramel and chocolate, for example), while something modern may call to mind more color, geometric shapes, symmetrical servings, and clean lines.

- Think about your colors. Is your affair monochromatic, pastels or jewel tones, or all over the place? If color plays a significant role in your event design, you will most likely want it echoed on your dessert table too.
With all these things in mind, get with your fiance, family, or event co-hosts and make lists of treats and flavors that you love, inspired by your date, venue, and style. Use this targeted list at your starting point when researching, and then meeting with caterers and bakers. A talented baker will be able to spitball with you and come up with some items that fit your personal tastes and style.
With menu in hand: determine quantities.
One of the biggest stresses for most couples planning a wedding with a dessert bar is the quantities of items to order. Here’s a simple guide I offer to most:
- If cake will be served, bet on 1-2 additional dessert bites per guest.
- If no cake will be served, or only a small cake, bet on 3-4 dessert bites per guest.
 There will always be those who (for reasons totally crazy, right?!) don’t sample any treats. And there will be those who want to sample everything. With all the work you are putting into style and presentation, and with the right baker in hand whipping up unbelievably tasty treats, guests will want to sample a couple of different items. 3-4 per guest is a good median rule.
So now that we know our date, style, venue, menu, and quantities to order — we can start the fun styling and organizing — the subject of next week’s follow up post!



best of the best

July 16th, 2013 | Posted by Hello Love in Sweets - (1 Comments)


This weeks post is short and sweet but definitely near and dear to our hearts. This is the short list of our favorite cupcakes around. We recommend trying them all asap! And just a heads up, do yourself a favor and order and ice cold glass of milk to go with!


Sprinkles (they have several locations). They only sell cupcakes. Enough said!


We love Society Bakery in Dallas! Their coconut cupcakes are crazy delicious (so are all the other flavors) and they always have amazing seasonal flavors to try!


This is one of my all time favorites. I definitely had Magnolia Bakery withdrawal after I moved back from New York and I was so happy to learn (right before my last birthday – perfect timing!) that they had a Los Angeles location! Buttercream, buttercream, buttercream…


SusieCakes in Los Angeles is old fashioned in all the right ways – everything is homemade in small batches and they use only the finest natural ingredients! So delicious!










for your fella

July 9th, 2013 | Posted by Hello Love in Sweets - (Comments Off)

 My earliest memories of wedding cake are not towers of ivory but rather the jarring collegiate tributes of Southern groom’s cakes. As a young wedding guest, the face of a college mascot (be it horse, pig, mustachio-ed cowboy) or simply bold letters spelling out the groom’s alma matter were memorable but by the time I had reached adulthood and was post-college, planning my own wedding, a tribute to my fiancé’s university was the last thing on my mind. Lucky for me, my fiancé had no objections to this. The thing is, weddings today are so different than weddings twenty, ten, even five years ago. Today’s weddings are stylish affairs, inspired by place, sentiment, seasons and not always collegiate loyalty. More and more couples are opting for a single wedding cake or a collection of smaller cakes representing their union (and ability to choose yummy flavor combinations together). But the groom’s cake is not a piece of history just yet. the cake tasting is one of the few elements of wedding planning that your groom will almost certainly not want to miss out on. For many couples the idea of a groom’s cake still holds a special place in wedding tradition – so what exactly do today’s groom’s cakes look like? Well, here are a few ideas that speak the language of both stylish wedding and total dude, at once, in perfect harmony.

Chocolate cake has always been the yin to the white bridal cake’s yang, and so, it translates exceptionally well as the Mr. to your Mrs. This naked version, with its delectable ganache drip and sophisticated fruit styling is very of the moment and striking in its simplicity.

This mustache cake is as adorably hip as the guy holding it!

A beautiful mess: these cakes embody the quality we often come to love about our guys.

A perfect pair: sometimes symmetry is the sweetest way to say “his & hers”. The dichotomy of these cake pairings is perfection – they play off each other’s height and style to create a perfect pairing that speaks to the event’s style.

Side by Side: These cakes take a more traditional approach with a taller bride’s cake accompanied by a smaller groom’s cake. The key here is simplicity. Both of these tables exude a beautiful but minimal styling approach that emphasizes the simple elegance of the cakes. The addition of the graphic banner gives the scene a playful punch.


macaroons styled

July 2nd, 2013 | Posted by Hello Love in Sweets - (Comments Off)


Macaroons have almost become a wedding party staple these days and we are certainly better for it! These adorable little cookies are cuteness bombs that elevate the celebratory vibe for every setting they find themselves in. A dessert bar favorite for their ability to pack flavor and color into one package, they are just about perfect on their own, but check out the playful ways designers are using them to accessorize moments. Just when you thought they couldn’t get any cuter…they do. This is one trend that continues to inspire!


This may be my favorite with bold and beautiful graphics! What an adorably creative way to incorporate a sweet message and/or your party branding into the sweet.



Tea party! A simply charming way to style macaroons for a bridesmaids brunch or shower – collect some of grandma’s china piece and mix and match to create a truly stunning display.



into the woods

June 25th, 2013 | Posted by Hello Love in Sweets - (1 Comments)


There are a great many fall and winter weddings in the works these days, so why not take a break from the summer heat to fantasize about a romantic, woodsy wedding, set atop a piney bluff, deep in the forest, or really any little spot surrounded by trees and cool crisp air. These are some of my favorite ideas to work with because there’s just so much inspiration to be found in nature. Cakes and fresh flowers, branches and leaves are a perfect pairing and one of the most beautiful and sophisticated choices for elegant wintery weddings. The whimsical fauna of the forest provides an adorably playful place to pull inspiration for weddings that are after some enchanted charm. So many ideas to fit so many styles…

Garland Greens: Wrapping garlands of rich leafy greens around crisp white cakes and rustic desserts is a stunning way to style your table. Request these custom items from your florist.


Crowned with Herbs: A clean white canvas is the perfect way to let an earthy mix of fresh picked herbs or branches shine. These cakes execute that concept perfectly.


Elemental Styling: Some of the most striking cakes are those that are styled with found objects and as found objects. These little twists are clever moments that seamlessly intertwine the entire event’s style.


Forest Creatures: Fungi, squirrels, insects…these cakes leave no stone unturned…and in so doing, the cakes created are beautiful and unforgettably quirky, speaking to the wedding’s fun vibe!




xoxo -

emilysig copy







Sources:  Cluney PhotoTec PetajaApryl AnnCake Walk (created the sweets on the dessert table), Bows and Arrows (garland on the dessert table), Martha Stewart WeddingsClare West PhotographyRyan Ray Photography Enjoy Cupcakes (created the rosemary and berry cake), Heather Roth PhotographyRebecca Hollis PhotographyCaptured by JenKiss the GroomM. Robin Cakes

cake trendsetters

June 18th, 2013 | Posted by Hello Love in Sweets - (Comments Off)
Now that last week’s post has you ready to buck with wedding cake tradition and source something fresh and on-trend, (or at least has opened that door a little bit,) I wanted to showcase some of my favorite wedding cake trendsetters to get those wheels a turnin’. These designers are true artists – they have pushed the limits of technique and tradition to create something completely new, and in turn have inspired tons of cakes across the world. From intricate and delicate detail work that mimics couture fashion to rough, unfinished facades that tug at a viscous vocabulary, these cakes span a wide range of style. They each remain statement pieces and works of art, but there’s a softness about them that translates as “cake” and makes them a little easier to cut into.

Maggie Austin


Austin’s most famous cakes are surely those swathed in her uber delicate gumpaste fringe. What sets these apart from other fringe work is how incredibly delicate the fringe is – she reaches an unparallelled level of translucence with her fringe – it actually seems to reflect light with an almost paper or fabric-like quality, an incredible other-ness. She also sets the bar incredibly high for sugar flower work with flowers that look unbelievable lifelike. And if that isn’t enough (I mean, Really!) check out her gorgeous painted cakes inspired by stained glass.