Dessert is a sweet way to end any meal and a wedding is no exception. But who says you have to just serve cake?
Wedding cakes date back to ancient Rome when -- for good luck -- a cake of wheat or barley was broken over the bride's head. The bride and groom then shared the crumbs.
Over time, cakes have gotten sweeter and now they're not the even the only treat dished out on the big day. Here's a look at the sweet indulgences making a statement at wedding receptions and dessert tables.
Many couples and their guests are saying "yes, please!" to pie for dessert.
"Pies are the opposite of the overly formal, too-pretty-to-eat vibe of traditional wedding cakes," says Mariana Leung, event designer at Wicked Finch Farm, who says pies are a natural fit for rustic, bohemian weddings.
Pies make a nice presentation, too. Leung has seen brilliant displays of small pies, as well as larger pies, stacked in a wedding cake configuration. There are great color combinations by alternating fruit pie, like apple or cherry, with rich fillings like chocolate or banana.
You can make your own pies or buy them. Bubby's bakery sells pies locally and for mail order. Flavors change depending on what's fresh and in season from local farms.
Doughnuts displays have been all the rage at weddings lately and for good reason. They're budget-friendly and taste amazing. Plus, they photograph well. Instagram and Pinterest are filled with images of impressive doughnut walls. Hint: search #DoughnutDisplay
While the doughnut walls are easy to make with pegboard and loads of round doughnuts, your dessert table isn't limited to circular sweets. Set up a plate of doughnuts as a practical centerpiece for each table. Or use tiered plates to create your own delicious doughnut table featuring a variety of your favorites like glazed crullers, doughnut bites, chocolate-frosted with sprinkles and yes, powdered doughnuts. (Note to brides: White sugar will blend right in with your dress; just be careful with that jelly filling!)
For a fancy approach, you can do tray-passed doughnuts with a chocolate or caramel dipping sauce.
Wedding guests love an experience. Interactive dessert stations, ranging from build-your-own ice cream sundaes to candy tables to make-your-own s'mores are gaining in popularity. Other out-of-the-cake-box dessert ideas include cotton candy, mini cupcakes, tarts and pastries.
"Instead of the traditional wedding cake, we've seen a lot more dessert bars," says Tasha Bracken of SD Events, who notes having variety at the table gives guests options to customize their treat.
One of Bracken's clients wanted boardwalk-style treats for her dessert bar, an homage to the bride's summers spent on the Jersey shore. That dessert table featured waffles with ice cream and displays of the bride's favorite candies, as well as a chocolate fountain with a variety of fresh fruit for dipping.
These DIY stations satisfy a sweet tooth and double as entertainment; that's a wedding win-win.
The newest wedding dessert trend is like an edible pinata. It even comes with a mallet for smashing. LA SmashCakes is whipping up handmade, candy-filled chocolate pi?atas in a variety of shapes from hearts to cupcakes and more. The custom-made party treats look like traditional cakes on the outside but break the exterior and candy spills out!
Often brides and grooms offer their dessert to go. Pastry chef Alisha Falkenstein at Kimpton Hotel Vintage creates macaron cookie towers. Guests can grab a macaron or two to enjoy in the moment or at a later time. Milk and cookies has become another popular staple for the end of the wedding party.
*Not a Cheesy Idea
Customized cheese plates are a sweet (and often savory) option for wedding desserts. While the display doesn't need to be extensive, it should feature a few varieties of cheese, including ones most appealing to all guests, such as cheddar, Gouda and Parmesan. Add in some of your other faves like Stilton, Brie or manchego. Pair the cheese with nuts and fruits -- the perfect mix of sweet and salty.
Offer up coffee, tea or cider, too. And no matter what desserts you serve, be sure to provide guests with plenty of napkins.
Kristen Castillo is a three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist. An editor and writer for wedding magazines, she's written hundreds of wedding articles, as well as an e-book, "Weddings on a Dime."