9 Wedding Cake Alternatives, If You Want Something Non-Traditional

by Kristine Fellizar
Wedding cake decorated with donuts and wild berries. Fashionable luxury stylish cake

The wedding cake is always a must-see at any reception. It can definitely say a lot about the couple and their personality. When it comes to your wedding, you can go traditional or be as creative as you like. Nowadays, you don't even need a wedding cake at all. There are a lot of great wedding cake alternatives you should consider, if you want something non-traditional.

"I think more and more, couples are looking to break away from wedding traditions in general," Sarah Carroll, San Francisco-based wedding planner, tells Bustle. Traditionally, the cutting of the cake ceremony represents the couple's new life together and acts as the first thing they do as a married couple. While it's a fun tradition, it's not a necessity.

Besides, wedding cakes can get pretty expensive. According to The Knot, the average couple will spend around $540 on their cake. "For some, it's more cost effective to look for alternatives like offering other desserts. For others, it's more fun to offer an alternative that feels more personal," Carroll says.

For instance, Kate Holowchik, head pastry chef at Ledger tells Bustle that people are getting more "progressive" with their flavor choices and ideas for wedding desserts. They're also looking for "smaller formats" like cookies or cupcakes, which are a lot less wasteful than a large cake.

"In consultations, people are no longer deciding between chocolate and vanilla, and what their parents would want or expect," Holowchik says. "Instead, they’re looking for more custom stuff, making the dessert about the couple and something that provokes memories. They're realizing that the ‘wedding cake’ can be more about themselves than their guests."

So here are some wedding cake alternatives, if you want something non-traditional.


A Breakfast Station


The best part about having a wedding, is being able to do whatever you want. If you want to have breakfast instead of a three-tier wedding cake, make a breakfast station. "Not everybody enjoys dessert, but almost everybody enjoys breakfast," Karen Norian, a wedding planner for Simply Eloped, tells Bustle. "Pancakes, waffles, French toast — there's something for everyone. Add fun toppings like whipped cream, chocolate chips, or strawberries and let each person create their very own midnight snack."


A Cheese Cake

If you like cheecake, it can make a great alternative to a traditional cake. But if you're into more savory treats than sweets, Carroll suggests an actual cheese cake. "I've been seeing an upward trend in cheese in the form of a cake," she says. "Lots of couples are not into sweets and prefer a savory dessert. Wheels of cheese can be stacked to look like a cake and displayed during cocktail hour, then cut later in the evening and served paired with jams and fruit."


A Donut Wall


Another fun alternative to a wedding cake is a doughnut wall. "Not only can you offer multiple flavors for guests, but from a visual and design standpoint, this creates an Instagrammable element to your wedding," LeighAnne Tucci, senior catering manager at Conrad New York Downtown, tells Bustle. You can go for an assortment of different colors and flavors, or you can keep it simple and have it decorated to match your wedding colors.



One popular alternative to cake is pie. "I've seen this done at a wedding with a rustic chic theme," Whitney Cox, wedding coordinator at Vegas Weddings, tells Bustle. "The brides had a large pie which they used for the 'cake cutting' photos, then they served miniature pies to all of their guests in a variety of flavors." Miniature pies are great because it can give your guests a variety of options to choose from. That way, you're less likely to waste money on a cake that only a few people actually want to eat.


A Cinnamon Roll Cake And Vanilla Latte Station

Courtesy of Jenna Joseph Photography

"Younger couples don’t want to follow tradition any more," Sutisa Spellman, catering manager at Pechanga Resort Casino, tells Bustle. "They want it to be more fun for their guests and more visual. More photo opps, more interactive. They also care less about the cake-cutting part of the reception." For one wedding, Spellman helped put together a cinnamon roll cake and vanilla latte station. It's all about finding something that has a lot of meaning to you and your partner.


A Dessert Table

"I've seen many couples opt to do a 'takeaway' dessert at the favors table," Rachel Urban, lead wedding planner and designer at Loli Events, tells Bustle. "Couples are open to thinking outside of the box and therefore it's becoming more and more important to offer an elevated and unique guest experience." Instead of just having one big dessert, put an assortment of little ones together. For instance, mini donuts, cookies, and macaroons are great things to include in your dessert station. People can just grab and go whenever they want.


A Champagne Tower


"One of our favorite alternatives to the cake is a champagne tower," Valerie Gernhauser, owner and principal planner and designer at Sapphire Events, tells Bustle. Instead of the traditional cake cutting, the couple will kick off the reception with a celebratory pour of champagne on the tower. "As the champagne cascades down, each of the rows fill up, and the couple toasts to the start of their new lives together," Gernhauser says. It's unique and easy to pull off. It also gets the party off to a great start.


An Ice Cream Truck

If you want to surprise your guests with something fun, hire an ice cream truck. According to Norian, many ice cream trucks are available to rent for special occasions and many of them aren't that expensive either. "Your guests will enjoy a piece of nostalgia while happily eating their ice cream sandwiches, and will leave your wedding with a fun story to tell (and likely an Instagram post praising your dessert choices)," she says.


Candy Stations


An alternative to the dessert table is a candy corner. According to Kevin Dennis, owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, you can set up a corner of your reception to mimic a full candy store, with chocolate, jelly beans, lollipops, cotton candy, and whatever you like. "The sky is the limit," Dennis says. "You'll have the creative freedom to really put your own twist on the decor."

As you can see, you don't need to limit yourself. It's your big day. If you want to hire an ice cream truck or have pancakes and waffles instead of a more traditional cake, go for it.