8 D.I.Y. Alternatives To Wedding Cake Slideshow

1. Homemade Pies

Whether it's the blueberry pie that helped your Aunt Mabel earn blue ribbon in the town pie contest last year, or that pecan pie recipe you've been eyeing for months, who doesn't love a good homemade pie? Instead of splurging on a specially made wedding cake that is equal to four weeks pay, recruit your friends to each make a different kind of pie. Not only will it ensure there is a flavor for everyone to enjoy, but what baking aficionado wouldn't want to show off their stellar pie crust making skills?

2. A Spread of Family-Favorite Sweets

These are the recipes that are often treasured most by home cooks — the ones passed down through the generations, the ones we grew up eating. Instead of a cake with many flavors, give guests a taste of different desserts that each mean something to the bride and groom. For example, serve the groom's grandmother's famous peach ice cream, the bride's father's signature berry pie, or the chocolate dessert that the bride made for the groom the first time she made him dinner. If you're looking for a way to get family members involved in the wedding without relinquishing too much control, ask them to make or bake a dessert that is a favorite of the family. They'll be happy to contribute — and there will be plenty of desserts for guests to choose from.

3. Cake Buffet

If you can't decide between red velvet, carrot cake, and cheesecake when choosing your cake layers, throw the tired creation idea out the window completely and instead offer a variety of different kinds of cakes. Ask a couple of friends to each bake something to bring to the wedding instead of a traditional gift (though if they want to gift you the cake plate the mille crepes cake was served on, they can). This way you can satisfy your father's chocolate cake demands, your gluten-free cousins' dietary restrictions, and your wish for a little bit of everything all at once.

4. Ice Cream Sundaes

If you're on a first-name-basis with your local scoop shop, this is for you. Pick up some large, commercial-sized tubs of your favorite flavors from Costco or Wal-Mart and all your favorite toppings (don't forget the whipped cream!). Make a big batch of hot fudge and/or caramel sauce, and some fresh cookies and brownies for serving. Then recruit your teenage cousins (or hire the cute teenage boys who live next door) to do the scooping. Who can resist a custom ice cream sundae after bringing down the dance floor?

5. Custom Cocoa Bar

I recently went to a winter wedding where the snowy scene was romantic, but with the temperature outside only two degrees, all guests wanted was a big cup of a boozy cocoa — not cake.


Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a fancy cake that some guests might consider ho-hum, create a custom cocoa bar with an array of garnishes. Caffeine junkies can get their java fix by adding a shot of espresso for a mocha (include some biscotti for dipping). Kids will delight in topping their Nutella-flavored cocoa with a chocolate whipped cream. Offer both dark and milk (or white) cocoas in self-serve air pots, liqueurs like Baileys and peppermint schnapps, syrups like hazelnut or caramel, and a variety of toppings like marshmallows, chocolate shavings, and cinnamon. A custom to-go cup favor would be just the thing to send guests home with here. 

6. Cheese Bar

Dessert need not only be sweet! For a smaller gathering, an array of cheeses — or a giant wheel of Cheddar — can be a satisfying alternative to something sweet, especially if the event has a more rustic feel, or is set on a farm. Create a display that is both eye-catching and edible. Lots of fruit, a variety of accoutrements (candied nuts, jams, savory spreads, dried fruits), and an assortment of crackers of all textures and compositions ensures there are a variety of combinations to excite your guests.

7. Design-Your-Own Profiteroles

You could say they're like gourmet ice cream sandwiches. Profiteroles are balls of pâte à choux — the same dough used to make cream puffs, éclairs, and croquembouche — sliced in half and filled a scoop of ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce. They're easy to make and come together in just a minute — pitchers of warm chocolate sauce can be set out at each table. Then recruit a couple of college kids to do the scooping, or if guests want, they can dig in to scoop and assemble their own. 

8. Donut Cake

Move over, cupcakes. Donuts aren't for breakfast anymore! A more unexpected alternative to a traditional layered cake, this round coffee shop favorite is perfect for stacking. But why buy a donut cake when you can make your own? Pick up a couple dozen at your favorite bake shop (or try your hand at making your own) then unleash your inner brick-stacking side to create a towering display that your guests are sure to love.