You have a couple of options.

By Courtney Levia
April 07, 2020
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Dessert is an essential part of any wedding reception—after all, the tiered cake is something most brides, grooms, and their guests look forward to throughout the day. But you want to serve your cake—and any other treats—at just the right time; if you slice the cake too early and guests will still be eating dinner or trying to dance, but if you wait too long, guests might be antsy to leave. To complicate matters more, the cutting of the wedding cake traditionally signified that the event was coming to a close, so some guests might take dessert service to mean that the fun is just about over.

To help you determine when you should serve dessert, we asked a wedding planner and caterer for their best advice. Read on to get the full scoop below.

Dessert Is Usually Served as Final Course of a Sit-Down Dinner

"Dessert may be served as the final course of a sit-down dinner, or it may be presented shortly following the dinner in the form of an action station or buffet," says Isabel Rokeach, event planner at Michelle Leo Events. Ultimately, the choice is yours—choose the option that works best for your party style. If you know your guests will be eager to dance, a grab-and-go station is likely a better options.

Don't Delay Serving Your Dessert Too Long

"If dessert is delayed for too long, you run the risk of wasted food as guests don't end up eating it," Rokeach explains. If the wedding cake is the only form of dessert offered, she advises planning to cut the cake immediately following the dinner so catering service has enough time to plate and serve, and guests have enough time to eat it.

Serve Dessert During the Party Stage

"The serving of dessert often signals the start to the next stage of the wedding after dinner, which I generally look at as the party stage," says Caroline Hummer, owner and lead wedding catering coordinator of Fogcutter Catering, San Francisco. "I recommend allowing you caterer to set dessert up during dinner, so that when guests are invited to the area where dancing will take place, they have something to draw them away from their tables and towards the dance floor," she adds.

Keep Dessert and Dancing at the Same Time

"When your DJ announces that there are dessert and dancing, I can almost guarantee that there won't be any people left in the dining area," Hummer suggests. "I generally see this transition happening one and a half to two hours after the official dinner start time, which gives enough time for dinner, speeches, and for guests to digest their dinner before jumping into the sweet stage of the evening," she says.

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