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Just Desserts: Wedding Cake Alternatives

Savory cheese wedding cake, wedding cake alternative
A savory cheese wedding “cake” stack by St. James Cheese Co. | Photo: Dark Roux

Written by: Rena Sweeney, Alchemy Events

Wedding cake is one of everyone’s favorite traditions, the centerpiece of your reception and many older guests will wait to leave until they’ve had a slice…but, it might not be for you.  If you’re not a “cake person”, want something unique or that tells a story, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite alternative wedding dessert options for you that will still satisfy your guests’ sweet tooth.

Wedding King Cake by Haydel's Bakery
Wedding King Cake by Haydel’s Bakery | Photo: Michelle Preau Photography


This New Orleans tradition is the perfect way to still give your guests a cake-like dessert while also infusing a little bit of Mardi Gras into your wedding. Since king cake is not widely available year round, it’s also a great way to give your out of town guests a chance to taste it. Our favorite way of doing this is to special order king cakes from different bakeries to create a king cake buffet, like this featured couple did. This way you can offer your guests a wide variety of king cakes, from traditional to some of the newer, unique options being offered in New Orleans.  However, if you still want something a bit more traditional looking, bakeries such as Haydel’s offer a beautiful tiered wedding version!

Wedding King Cake Buffet
Wedding King Cake Buffet | Photo by Studio Tran


Who doesn’t love tapas? Bite sized pastries such as mini eclairs, frangipane, napoleon and tarts are a hit because wedding guests can select several varieties and graze on the display throughout the night. Ask your baker about personalizing these options as well by including elements and colors that match your wedding aesthetic or by offering options that are reminiscent of your childhood. Meringues are a NOW magazine favorite; we adored our featured couple Caitlin & Donald’s mushroom styled meringues from Lord of Meringues for their micro-wedding.  

Mushroom shaped meringue wedding favors
Mushroom-shaped meringue wedding favors by Lord of Meringues | Photo: Dark Roux

If you grew up eating sweet potato pie, ask for mini versions of those or, as shown, ask for edible images to be added to brownies, cookies and more to go with your theme. You can even serve another NOLA favorite, fried hand pies by Haydel’s Bakery – with the wrappers customized with your wedding date, of course!

New Orleans Style Fried Hand Pies by Haydel's Bakery
New Orleans Style Fried Hand Pies by Haydel’s Bakery | Photo: Michelle Preau Photography


These two dessert favorites are both tricky when it comes to sitting out for long periods of time.  We understand if you can’t pass them up, though, so we recommend either speaking with your baker about a tiramisu type cake that is room temp safe and stable, or bringing these treats out when it’s time for dessert. Your guests won’t worry that they didn’t see a big wedding cake sitting out all night when you serve these decadent desserts! You could also consider a cheesecake action station where guests can select from various ways to top their treat.

Wedding cheesecake
Wedding cheesecake | Photo: Dgass Photography


Is your sweet tooth satisfied by more savory desserts? Then a dessert cheese might be for you!  St. James Cheese Company can work with you to select your favorite varieties and also sends one of their knowledgeable staff members to slice, serve and guide your guests with their selections. If you’d like to have it accessible all evening, consider pairing it with a charcuterie display for savory bites earlier in the evening, followed by sweeter options such as a pralines or fruit paired brie later on.

Pralines from Pigeon Catering and Events | Brian Jarreau Photography
Pralines by Pigeon Catering and Events | Photo: Brian Jarreau Photography


It doesn’t matter if you have them made on site or if they’re pre-made, these are bound to be a hit!  Locals and visitors alike enjoy pralines in original, chocolate, coconut and other specialty flavors. You can stack them up in a tier, offer them at each place setting as favors or have an action station where guests watch them being made. However you do it, everyone loves a good praline!

Wedding Donuts
Wedding Donuts | Photo: Ashley Rhain


As traditional or wild as you want, many bakeries offer delicious donuts that are sure to satisfy!  While there’s always something to be said for a good traditional glazed, consider adding fun options like cereal topped, flavors based on other desserts or even donuts in the shape of letters that spell out your names.  We also love the idea of asking your caterer to pass mini donuts toward the end of the evening along with shots of milk, coffee or a specialty drink paired to match.

Check out these weddings that included donuts for their guests: Emily & Edward at The Chicory | Susan & Richard at The Cabildo | Allison & Jon at Chateau Country Club

Wedding Beignet Tower
Wedding Beignet Tower | Photo: Photography by Louis


We’re rounding out our list with the most iconic New Orleans dessert of all time- beignets.  There’s not much we need to say about this one.  Whether passing mini beignets at the end of the night or creating a tower of them, just make sure they’re fried on site so they’re as fresh and delicious as can be.

Mini beignet and cafe au lait shooters
Mini beignet and cafe au lait shooters by Pigeon Catering | Photo: Jessica the Photographer

Whether you want something nostalgic or New Orleans centered, we do recommend having sweets of some sort to offer your guests.  If you’re still not sure if any of these are the right fit for you, start to brainstorm about what desserts hold meaning in your life. Maybe you had Baked Alaska on your first date or bonded over a shared love of Twinkies; whatever it is, this is a day to celebrate the two of you so lean in to what makes you unique!

Check out THE NOW LIST for local bakeries and caterers for your wedding.


(click each photo for details)

Poof Cotton Candy | Photo by Julia Bailey
Gambino's Bakery Dessert Bar. Photo by Tasha Rae Photography
Wedding Brownies and mini pecan pies
White wedding king cake
chocolate mousse wedding dessert
Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake Stack
Wedding Rootbeer Float Station
Savor macarons
Wedding macaron place cards
Vegan strawberry pudding by Marie's Fleur De Lis Catering. Photo: Jessica The Photographer
Decadent “Phases of the Moon” Macarons

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