So you’ve decided to create your own sweet table. Congratulations! Who doesn’t love a good dessert buffet?
If you’re someone who is confident in their baking ability (or their loved ones’ baking abilities), then this should be fun for you! If you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of baking experience, don’t worry- there are PLENTY of easy dessert recipes out there that can easily be customized to suit your needs. And practice makes perfect! Regardless of your skill level, the number one thing you should do is practice, practice, practice making your desserts. Unless it’s a recipe you’ve made many times before, it’s advisable to do multiple test runs of whatever you plan on serving your guests at your wedding.
To help you make sure you have everything under control, here’s a step-by-step checklist to use for planning your sweets table:
Investigate your venue or space. Are there power outlets you can use? Do you have access to extension cords or thermal storage? Are you able to bring in whatever you need to keep the temperature of your food where it needs to be? Do you have anything that even needs to be kept hot or cold?
Delegate. Who is making the sweets, here? Will it be you and/or your partner(s)? Or are you able to enlist the consensual help of your loved ones? Does everyone involved have the skill set, the time, and the facilities & equipment to make the desserts?
Make notes of dietary restrictions and allergies. Does anyone have any food allergies? Are they mild, moderate, or severe? Does anyone have any dietary restrictions (ie. is anyone vegan, gluten-free, diabetic, etc.)? You want ALL of your guests to be able to enjoy your sweet table. Make an effort to be inclusive, and make sure there’s something for everyone!
Select your desserts. This part, for me personally, is the most fun. What do you want to serve? You could just fill the table with all of your favourites… or you could stick with one type of dessert (cookies, pies, cakes, candy, bars, etc.) and leave it at that. There’s no wrong way to do it! But if you want to create an excellent variety of desserts, consider serving desserts that create contrast: Crunchy versus soft. Sweet versus salty versus tart. Nostalgic comfort food versus high-end or experimental desserts. This is where you can get creative! If you want to go the extra mile, try to coordinate your desserts with your wedding’s theme or colour palette.
Make a schedule or timeline. How far in advance can these desserts be made? Can they be frozen, or do they need to be made within 24 hours of the event? How much time do you need to make each of the desserts? Setting a specific time aside for making your desserts, or having a schedule for everyone to follow, can save you hours (if not days) of stress.
As an added bonus, here’s a quick list of desserts that do not freeze well:
Desserts with Gelatin or Jelly
Custards or Puddings
Desserts with Cream components (trifles, eclairs, cream filling, etc.)
Delicate Cookies with High Moisture Content (florentines, tuiles, etc.)
Desserts with Crumb or Streusel Topping
Make enough for everyone. When you’re trying to gauge how many items to actually make, a good standard is two to four items per person, depending on the dessert.
Style the actual sweets table. This can be as simple or as complex as you want! If you’re doing this yourself, figure out your table linens (tablecloth, skirting, runners, overlays, etc.), serving trays or stands, and table accessories. To help give your table a polished presentation, try to keep things symmetrical and vary the height of your desserts. Don’t forget the labels (and allergy warnings, if applicable)!
Again, I cannot stress practice enough. Make your desserts multiple times before your wedding, and don’t hesitate to get other people’s opinions if you need them. If you’re doing something wrong or getting an undesirable result and you don’t know why, a loved one with more experience (or if necessary, Google) can give you some tips on how to improve your desserts and avoid any pitfalls!