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While nothing says, "wedding" quite like a three-tiered cake, there's a reason more and more brides are skipping the classic big-day dessert for milk-and-cookie shots, ice cream sundae bars, French macaron towers, and more. It's just fun to surprise guests with an unexpected and super-sweet finish, plus it's one more way to showcase your personal style on your special day.
In dreaming up your very own grand finale, remember these pointers.
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Have Real Talk with Your Pastry Pro
Talk to your caterer or cake baker about what they can do and have done. Don't just focus on the look of their desserts; ask about the taste, too.
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Think of a Few of Your Favorite Things
Think of your favorite meal, desserts, snacks, and candy, and brainstorm how those flavors could be transformed into desserts. Yes, your baker can make a cake inspired by Thanksgiving, caramel apples, Lay's potato chips, or M&Ms!
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Look for Inspiration
Incorporate flavors that reflect your culture, such as Mexican tres leches cake or British fruitcake, the region, like buckeyes if you're from Ohio, or key lime pie, if you grew up in Florida, or season, like citrus in the summer or apples in the fall.
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Use Your Imagination
Imagine your dessert. Does it look like a cake, or something entirely different? What color is it? And how tall? If you're starting from zero, look for inspiration in your wedding details, such as your palette, flowers, the design on your dress, or even your new married monogram.
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Think About Quantity
Decide if you want to have one dessert, two options, or a full spread or bar.
To help inspire your own creative dessert, we rounded up the following twists on the last course.
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Serve Dessert During Cocktail Hour
If don't have much of a sweet tooth, or plan on slicing up something savory anyway as your last course, surprise guests by dishing out dessert during hors d'oeuvres—within reason. Let the flavors and food you'd normally find in an appetizer spread, like soft cheeses, berries, and herb crostini, inspire your selection. Here are some recipes that caught our eye: lemon-rosemary olive oil cake (above), sweet potato cake with molasses buttercream, pistachio olive oil cake with fig compote filling, and roasted-grape-and-rosemary goat cheese tarts.
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Serve Breakfast for Dessert
Ever since donuts, waffles, and biscuits hit dessert bars, and crepe cakes and panCAKES, cake tables, brides have had breakfast on the brain, and full disclosure, so have we. These pastry-inspired recipes are sure to inspire your own tiered treat: cinnamon roll cake (above), French toast cake, and blackberry-and-apple scone cake. After all, what's more fitting than serving the most important meal of the day on your most important day?
Reserve the debut of your signature drink for the end of the night and you'll prove the saying about saving the best for last. Just because drinks don't require a plate and fork, doesn't mean they can't be cake-like (in the same way that desserts can be booze-like). These cocktails are rooted in classic wedding-cake flavors, but you should follow your own palate: strawberries and cream (above), lemon chiffon, chocolate torte, carrot cake, peanut butter mousse, and red velvet. If you're stuck on which flavor to savor, then mix up two! This is a great opportunity for a "his and hers" moment, in the same way you might serve a groom's cake if you were going with a more traditional last course.