11 Wedding Cake Alternatives for a Non-Traditional Reception

Not into cake? Break free from tradition and explore these fresh wedding cake alternatives instead.

Published July 11, 2023

It's hard to live up to your childhood dream of getting a magazine-cover worthy wedding when you're staring a plain white wedding cake in the face. Instead of sticking with the basics, break free from tradition and make a big splash with these wedding cake alternatives that'll please even the pickiest crowds.

Try Macaron Trays


If you've ever walked into a pastry shop, then you've probably admired the dainty macarons in the display case. These bright pastel pastries come in a wide variety of flavors - enough to satisfy every palate. If you don't want to make your family deal with a massive crumby cleanup after your wedding, these finger food-style desserts are the perfect wedding cake alternative for you.

Set Up a Series of Cheese Boards


Charcuterie boards were everywhere a few years ago, and while a lukewarm meat spread might not be the vibe you're going for at your outdoor wedding, a fancy cheese board just may fit the bill. From gruyere to muenster, you can fill a table full of cheese boards with a variety of crackers, jams, oils, and herbs that guests can taste test.

For your lactose intolerant and vegan friends, you can include a few vegan-friendly cheese trays, too. To cheese lovers, no wedding cake will stand up to a delicious wheel of cheese, and this elevated buffet can be a quirky way to celebrate your nuptials.

Serve Some Tiramisu


If you really want to stray from the traditional wedding cake but want to add an old European sensibility to your reception, cutting slices of delicious tiramisu is a great idea for you. This coffee-flavored dessert with its dusting of cocoa carries itself with a bit more class than your classic pies or puddings do.

Make Bouquets of Cake Pops


Inviting a ton of guests but want to stick to a strict budget? Instead of busting out a multi-layered cake full of fondant flowers and food-safe airbrushing, set out bouquets full of delicious cake pops. Cake pops are a great option if you want to stick close to tradition, but you don't have a massive budget or don't want to limit yourself to only enjoying one or two flavors after your ceremony.

Go Dainty With Meringue Cookies


There's nothing quite so whimsical as a colorful candy dish full of little puffy meringue cookies. Meringues are a super customizable wedding cake alternative. You can pick flavors, colors, and tiny decorative elements. For example, you could add a few edible pearls to match your dress. Having meringue cookies is a great way to save money without skimping on style.

Host an Ice Cream Sundae Bar


When you think about dessert options other than wedding cakes, a sundae bar immediately comes to mind. If you're planning a hot summer wedding, a nice fruity or chocolatey sundae is an awesome way to cool down. Your guests will love getting to customize their cones and toppings while tapping into their inner child.

Keep Clean-up Easy With Parfait Cups


If you've been to a wedding, then you know exactly how harrowing it can be cutting the first slice and making sure it goes far enough for every guest to get a piece. Don't add another thing to stress out about on your big day by bringing out a huge wedding cake. Instead, set up a table with easy pre-portioned parfait cups. From savory to sweet, the combinations are endless, and these self-served cups can keep your pesky cousins from taking more than their share.

Stick to Simple With Fruit Tarts


Hosting a morning or midday wedding and need something a bit lighter on the stomach to celebrate your nuptials than a sugary-sweet wedding cake? Look no further than fruit tarts. Fruit tarts are bite-sized sweets your friends and family can master. Once you've got the base down, the sky's the limit for what fruit topping decoration you can come up with.

Go No Fuss With Cheesecake Slices


If you want a no-stress wedding cake, stick to something much easier to transport and set up like a series of cheesecakes. While an individual cheesecake doesn't go as far as a four-tiered wedding cake, needing to have several gives you the excuse to go hog-wild with flavors. And if you're on a tight budget, a cheesecake is something you can ask family and friends to cobble together while a complicated decorated wedding cake isn't.

Enjoy a Fresh Take With a Fresh Fruit Table


Not everyone is itching to cut open a huge cake on their wedding day. Some people have strict dietary restrictions that mean they avoid sugar, and cakes tend to be drowning in the stuff. Round out your wedding spread with something a bit on the fresher side with a massive fruit tray. Dress it up with some cut flowers, and if you don't want to leave the sweet-tooths in the dust, you can add a sugary element with a chocolate fountain.

Try a Naked Cake


If it's just the sweetness of the frosting that's holding you back from cake, try a naked wedding cake. It has a lot less frosting, but it's a delicious and elegant alternative to a traditional buttercream or fondant cake. 

Wedding Desserts You'll Need to Savor


When you're planning a wedding, there's so much pressure to get the right dress, the perfect location, and the best cake flavor. Instead of trying to live up to these impossible expectations, surprise your guests with something more original. These wedding cake alternatives are sure to be a hit, and your guests will want to savor every last bit.

11 Wedding Cake Alternatives for a Non-Traditional Reception