- 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).
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 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.
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!
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 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.
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!
Sources: Cluney Photo, Tec Petaja, Apryl Ann, Cake Walk (created the sweets on the dessert table), Bows and Arrows (garland on the dessert table), Martha Stewart Weddings, Clare West Photography, Ryan Ray Photography , Enjoy Cupcakes (created the rosemary and berry cake), Heather Roth Photography, Rebecca Hollis Photography, Captured by Jen, Kiss the Groom, M. Robin Cakes