DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

I can’t even tell you how much time I spent ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over beautiful dessert tables on pinterest. Then I started wondering about the practical stuff like, wait a minute how are we gonna transport all this? When are we gonna have time to cook this stuff? It’s an outdoor wedding, how do we keep bugs away? And these desserts aren’t gonna refill themselves throughout the night, how are we gonna do that?

You can find all sorts of info on how to create color schemes or add height to your items, but I had a hard time finding answers to my less-than-glamorous questions. If you’re looking to DIY your own dessert table, hopefully this post will shed some light on the nitty gritty!

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

Tip 1) Choose your tasties

I decided to keep it simple. There are beautiful dessert tables out there with 20 different options to choose from, but I knew I wanted to keep it under 5 types of desserts (excluding our little cake) for the sake of practicality. It’s easier to make big batches of a few things than small batches of a lot of things.

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

Also, having tons and tons of rice krispie treats stacked on your counters kinda makes you look like a drug lord.

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

Evan and I each picked a couple favorites we loved. For example, my mom’s homemade rice krispie treats were a must for me, and Evan definitely had to have his mom’s chocolate/toffee/pecan candy (affectionately named “Hans Pecans”). We brainstormed with our families to come up with a few other tasty treats as well.

Because our desserts had to travel to a different city, we made sure to choose things that were pretty sturdy. Nothing with frosting that would get messed up or anything too delicate that would crumble. And if you’re having an outdoor wedding and it’s hot, make sure your items won’t melt!

Also, we wanted items that would freeze well because we knew we’d have to make some in advance! This was SUCH a huge help. Some items we made the weekend before and froze, and let them defrost on the 3 hour drive to the venue. If you decide to do this, make sure you test it well in advance so you know if your items will survive the freeze.

Tip 2) Guilt your family/friends into helping. Reward with tasty treats.

Recruit help!!! My mom made the rice krispies and lemon bundts, Evan’s mom made Hans Pecans and brown sugar poundcake bundts, and my grandma made banana muffins. Don’t try to take on all the baking yourself- one person does not have enough ovens to handle that! Don’t forget to get help wrapping up any items that need to be wrapped up too (you’ll notice our bundt cakes are wrapped). It’s fun to have a dessert wrapping/eating party :)

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

You’ll notice some s’mores packs above- those were our favors! We wrapped those up while we were doing our bundts too.

Tip 3) Figure out what all these sweets are gonna sit on

I really tried to minimize decor expenditures as much as possible. So nope, I didn’t rent crystal dessert stands or go antiquing to find the perfect eclectic mix of dishes. I borrowed- a LOT. Most of the cake stands you see here are borrowed from our awesome friends and family. We just had to purchase a couple things, which I don’t feel too bad about because we will use them in the future. We mixed white and clear cake stands and let the desserts take the stage.

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

Having trouble adding height to your display? Get creative! The stand with our main cake is sitting on top of an upside down planter I found at Homegoods, and the 2 cake stands on either side of it aren’t actually stands, the are platters glued to candlesticks! Super cheap and easy.

If you are having your wedding outside, keep in mind that bugs can be an issue. That’s why we individually wrapped our moist/stickier items AND had cake domes to go over things. Yes we did have a few uncovered items, but they were “sturdier” (rice krispies and mini muffins) and they held up just fine, no issues with bugs. It helps that there was a breeze all night and it wasn’t during the heat of summer.

If you’re worried, you could definitely individually wrap every type of dessert or cover everything with domes, then remove the domes when it is dessert time after dinner. Also, if your venue has fans you could have the fans near the table which will help keep bugs at bay. Again, for us it ended up not being a huge issue because it wasn’t the middle of summer and we had a nice breeze, so our “less moist/sticky” items being left uncovered method worked just fine.

Tip 4) Make it feel like you

This was the fun part- all the pinterest-y little details that make your dessert table uniquely yours. Granted, the biggest part of that for us was the fact that everything was homemade- but even if you buy everything from the store, which you totally could do, you can still make it feel 100% you. To do that, we used a table overlay my mom made to match our runners, I made custom chalkboard labels that said what the items were and who made them, and we had quirky little Toki Doki cake toppers because we are weird like that. Have fun with it!

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

Also the dessert table is a great place to display your bouquet after the ceremony! Because it’s damn gorgeous but who wants to carry that massive thing? Putting it on the cake table gets it in all the photos and looks so pretty.

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

Tip 5) Your desserts are delicious- keep em coming!

Since we DIY’d our own dessert table, there was no vendor automatically responsible for the practical things like refilling desserts, keeping the table clean, topping off the fork supply, etc. Make sure you talk to vendors, family, or friends who can take care of these things! We hired an extra server through our catering company to help keep an eye on the table. It’s a little detail that you definitely don’t want to forget.

Well I hope this helps! It’s awesome to see the pretty side of dessert tables on pinterest…

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

…but it’s good to see the practical side too! Especially when it’s a very involved endeavor!

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

Hope this post helps any DIY brides-to-be with the logistics side of doing your own dessert table! If you have any questions please let me know and I’ll do my best to help out :)

DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

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7 Responses to DIY Dessert Table- Practical Tips

  1. Monica January 20, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    Great pointers on displaying everything. Thanks!

    • Katelyn Sheline January 21, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

      Thank you!

  2. Mollie June 19, 2015 at 6:52 pm #

    I love the tip about putting the bouquet on the dessert table. Much appreciated advice all around. When you froze stuff, did you layer foil in between the layers of treats?

    • Katelyn Sheline June 24, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

      Thank you! The treats we froze were the mini bunts, the rice krisipies, and the chocolate-toffee treat. The bunts were cooked, cooled, bagged and frozen in their individual bags (we placed all the little bags into large freezer ziplocks). The krispies were frozen in sheets with plastic wrap between each sheet. And the chocolate-toffees were just broken into pieces, placed in a freezer ziplock. Hope this helps!

  3. Mollie September 28, 2015 at 8:43 pm #

    What kind of glue did you use for the candlestick holders to the plates?

    • Katelyn Sheline October 11, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

      Hi! I used a clear epoxy glue from Michaels or Hobby Lobby. Hope this helps! :)

  4. Lora April 19, 2017 at 8:36 am #

    Thanks for these tips! How did you determine how much of each treat to make for the number of guests?

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