Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wedding, the dessert buffet!

On to happier food topics!

We decided on our cakes months before the wedding. Vanilla Bake Shop is our favorite LA bakery (I'm sure I just managed to offend 90% of my LA readers - bakeries are a divisive topic) and their custom wedding cakes are gorgeous, but way out of our price range ($800 minimum!). Their standard cakes are amazing and we figured out that 6 cakes (two 12" wide and four 9" wide) would easily serve our 140ish guests. They did.

We settled on flavors, I measured all my cake stands (this forced me to take inventory and it was embarrassing - let's just say what you see here is less than half of what I own) and picked out 6 that would work well together and then we did nothing until the week before the wedding, when we ordered the cakes. It came out to $420 total.

To fill it out (and because D is very much a cookie person rather than a cake person) I made 4 batches each of 4 different types of cookies, plus brownies, and spent about $80 on ingredients. I knocked out the dough in a few hours (I have a KitchenAid and an affinity for speedy assembly line baking). Baking the actual cookies sucked a bit, because it was so dang hot the week before the wedding. In light of our food disaster, I was so, so grateful that I didn't blow off the cookies, as tempting as it was at the time.

I knew that I could trust our wedding planners to set up our dessert buffet, but I was secretly hoping I'd find time to do it myself. You guys know how I feel about cake stands. While our friends hung our streamers on Saturday morning, I arranged the table, leaving notes so that it would be clear which cakes and cookies were going where. It was totally OCD. I loved it.

And of course, Michelle and Anna executed it perfectly. Michelle picked up the cakes for me (which eliminated a big logistical hurdle!) and drove them to the venue and then put everything out. I slipped out to see the final product just as guests were starting to arrive and nearly cried. I mean, the cookies were arranged in swirls. It was a work of art.

dessert buffet
{dessert buffet - photos by melissa of happy confetti photography}

It didn't last for very long, of course. In lieu of appetizers, lots of guests decided to start on cookies prior to dinner, and I could only applaud their wise decision. I would have joined in, eagerly, had I not been sequestered in the bridal suite.

We bought bakery boxes so that people could take home leftovers and it was a great move. There is always cake left at weddings and it kills me to see it get thrown away. We offered up the boxes at the end of the night and there was barely a scrap leftover. We smuggled out a couple bags of cookies and a piece of cake for our honeymoon.

For desserts, we spent $420 on cake + $80 on cookie ingredients + $30 on bakery boxes (I bought 80 boxes and we could have gone with 40 and it would have been fine - it seemed to be about one box per family and not everyone took anything home) + $40 on vintage cake servers + $15 on industrial cake knives. That was calculated to feed 150 people and it was more than enough.

It got a little chaotic after we cut the cake. Having six different cakes is a little tricky. In retrospect, I should have picked out one person to cut and serve each cake and then had an empty table nearby for the cut slices to go on. This would have made it much smoother. Heads up to anyone planning a dessert buffet sans caterer. I finally get the cupcakes at weddings craze.

And I know it is so cliche, but the only taste of cake I got that night was the ceremonial photo op bite. Sad.

cake cutting
{cake cutting - photo by melissa of happy confetti photography}

Right after I typed that I realized that it isn't true. I did get to eat some of the leftovers back in our hotel room at 3 am with my bare hands, and was joined enthusiastically by several of our friends. So that works too. Just make sure you get someone to package something for you. And maybe remember to include forks.

And because I'm still obsessed with our cake topper ...

cake topper
{by day - photo by melissa of happy confetti photography}

cake topper at night
{by night - photo by melissa of happy confetti photography}

It lives on our bookshelf currently, and I think it's probably the one piece of the wedding decor that we'll keep forever.


  1. I love the dessert buffet, what a great idea! We did a milk and cookie bar (complete with little milk shooters) at our wedding in addition to the big cake and it was a big hit

  2. Such a smart move to order so many cakes! Your dessert buffet looked gorgeous! Good job for baking yourself!

  3. Absolutely love this set-up, everything looks beautiful, charming and delicious!

  4. Wow your dessert table looked AMAZING! ALll the cakes looked wonderful and so yum - we also had one at our wedding :) Loved all the pics!

  5. My mouth is watering over that chocolate cake (it's the same one that you nearly dropped for your mom's b-day, right?). And the cookies, for that matter.

    And I'm totally with you on the cake stand obsession. I have to regularly stop myself from buying them because I have nowhere to keep them all as it is.

  6. I love your dessert spread- and I LOVE Vanilla Bakery! They did macarons for my wedding and they were delicious! Your wedding looks beautiful and like it was a fun party. Congrats!

  7. enjoy reading your blog very much, you should write a book some day :)

  8. At my wedding I didn't even get a bite of cake...and I'm not sure how I missed it especially as everyone I talked to kept going on about it but instead I think I was too busy saying hello to everyone.

    The next day I managed to get a leftover cupcake before they all disappeared to other brother being the major benefactor.

    So I agrre make sure there is a cake box for you and make it a really big one!

  9. I commissioned someone on Etsy to create a custom cake topper for us and couldn't bare to toss it after the wedding. I, too, found a home for it on our bookshelf. Whenever I look at it, I'm reminded of the most wonderful day of my life.

  10. i love your cake topper! did it feel weird not having the one big wedding cake to cut?

  11. OMG, you are amazing!! Everything you did for your wedding is so beautiful, thoughtful, delicate. I love your blog and all your tips, diy and recipes. I am your fan. Thanks so much for inspiring me every day!

  12. Lovely! Did you make your headband? It's gorgeous!

  13. @ Lauren Kent - Well, we did cut one of the largest cakes (the big white one in the center of the table) so we got the ceremonial cake cutting in. I don't think it was really any different than if we had had one large cake, but I guess I don't have any way to compare!

    @ Rowena - I semi-made my headband. I purchased some (outrageously expensive, I'll admit) crystal trim from my favorite fabric supplier and then just added elastic. Still debating what to do with it now. It's a little blingy for everyday use!

  14. Nice! Just discovered your blog while googling for inspiration for an upcoming wedding dessert buffet I'm doing for a bride here in Vermont; Thanks for the inspiration! Headband is killer too :) Cheers, JvT | |

  15. Hello! Did you order the bakery boxes online, or pick them up somewhere in LA? What size did you get?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi, Laura! I picked them up from a cake supply store because most online sources had high shipping and a huge quantity. We got 7.5 x 7.5 x 3.5, I believe. For 140 guests, we bought 50 boxes and only used 35 or so.

      You need fewer than you might think, because most people come as couples or families and they only take one box per group, in general. And because the cake gets cut at the end of the night, there are some people who are gone already. And then the crazy people who don't like cake.

      I'd divide your guest count by 4 and order that many.

      I honestly don't remember where we bought them. We were on some errand and I just searched the map for "cake supply" stores. We weren't in LA, though. Maybe Huntington Beach?

      In LA, I would check Surfas (and also see if any cake decorating/supply stores are close to you). If you're near Orange County, I know that ABC cakes has always carried them and they're located in Orange.

      Hope that helps!

    2. Thank you so much! I really appreciate the information. I have been loving all your tips this week, and getting caught up on your wedding planning posts (I am a semi-new follower). Cheers!

  16. Looking wonderful, Thank you for sharing such a delicious cakes.
    Bakery Boxes


Trying captchas this time - better or worse than having to log in to comment? Let me know! Sorry for all the hoops but the spam has been terrible lately!