Here come the bride and groom to cut the cake. Wait; perhaps that isn't their style. Maybe the couple want something that fits their personality better -- a little whimsy, a bit of easygoing finger foods or something sophisticated and unique. The traditional wedding cake isn't a given anymore. When it comes to the sweet touch, couples have choices. There are no rules.
Yes, there are still traditional three-, four- and five-tier wedding cakes, but they aren't necessarily all frosting and flowers anymore. The superhero groom, for example, could have a cake that reveals its own Batcave entrance. Cakes can be made to look like scenic adventures. They can have surfboards, tourist attractions, piano keyboards -- the list is almost endless. The cake can fit the wedding theme, whether it's castles, beaches, computers and technology, or skydiving.
And there doesn't even have to be a cake. Weddings can feature doughnut walls, cupcake towers, trays of petits fours or ice-cream parfaits. Having an early-morning wedding? Try serving Belgian waffles with ice cream. Nighttime weddings are perfect for milk and cookies, such as chocolate chip cookies, shortbread cookies, snickerdoodles or colored sugar wafers. Young couples with lots of college friends attending might even enjoy serving alcoholic, as well as nonalcoholic, Jell-O shots.
Another terrific alternative can be Bundt cakes. Put a full-size cake on each table to let the guests help themselves, or put mini Bundt cakes on the dessert table with a choice of toppings. The full-size Bundt cakes can serve as part of the centerpiece. Try mini angel food shells with fruit and whipped cream for a delicious and light taste. Top a stack of Rice Krispies bars with a traditional or not-so-traditional cake topper; no one is too old to appreciate this sweet and slightly gooey treat. A good idea when serving sticky-finger sweets is a basket of wet wipes for your guests.
Parfaits can be served in Champagne flutes, wine glasses, mini or full-size sundae glasses, or even shot glasses. Parfait fillings can be ice cream, pudding or cheesecake. A delicious dessert starts with small juice glasses and a base of crushed graham crackers. Fill it with creamy cheesecake, and top it with blueberries, strawberries or raspberries. You can use colors that match the colors of the bridal party, wedding theme or season.
Even more wedding dessert ideas include small scoops of ice cream on palette-shaped cookies, made-to-order dessert crepes, macaroons and homemade toaster pastries. Couples have even had "cakes" made of multiple-tiered cheese wheels and served their guests small wedges of cheese with grapes or sliced apples and bread or crackers. Depending on the venue, wedding desserts are the perfect setting for your favorite aunt's blue-ribbon blondies and brownies. Say "yes" to your friend who wants to bring her homemade rugelach and mini pastries.
If you or your guests are health-conscious or require gluten-free desserts, try yogurt and fresh fruit parfaits. Pair up doughnut holes, fresh fruit pieces, marshmallows and even pretzel sticks with chocolate and caramel fountains, whipped toppings or syrups for fun do-it-yourself wedding sweets that your guests will love. Outdoor weddings with fire pits are perfect settings for s'mores. Give each guest an individual s'mores kit and watch the fun. What is a more perfect fit at a summer beach wedding than small pastel-colored cotton candy cones?
Couples who opt for nontraditional desserts can have a traditional cake cutting and photo opportunity if they want with a small one-layer cake or big cookie cake. Both can be adorned with cake toppers and later cut into small bite-size pieces to be served at the dessert table along with other goodies. The ceremonial cake cutting and photo op can also be done with a deep-dish fruit or custard pie.
Planning a wedding can be stressful, but it can also be a time to insert some nontraditional memories. Weddings should be as individual as the couples and their personalities. Traditions can be a guide, but they're not necessarily a mandate. The bride and groom should plan the wedding that they will remember as theirs in every way.