Planning a wedding means making a lot of decisions, but once the gown is picked out, the venue booked and the couple is ready, there is the issue of the food. Traditional wedding cakes are both beautiful and practical: they feed guests. A dessert bar can do the same thing, only instead of a single cake, wedding guests have a choice of treats. Each has its pros and cons.
Price might be the deciding factor for most couples. According to CNN, couples spent an average of $560 on their wedding cakes in 2012. This average, of course, can vary depending on where you live. A couple in a busy metropolitan areas is likely to spend more on a wedding cake than a couple in a more rural area. A dessert bar’s cost can vary depending on the desserts you choose. Plated desserts at a buffet could cost up to $15 per plate, while a self-serve dessert bar can go as low as a few dollars per guest. Dessert and catering prices averaged $63 per person in 2012, but menu items certainly impact how much you’ll spend. Even a buffet at $5 per person adds up quickly when you have more than 100 guests.
A wedding cake provides limited choices. You can select different cake, filling and frosting combinations for each tier, but some wedding cake designers and bakeries charge extra for this. In addition, you’ll be limited on fillings and cake flavors based on the season. For example, a cream filling could not be used for an outdoor wedding in summer due to spoilage risks. Dessert buffets can give your guests more selection and can range from an all-chocolate bar to candy buffet to a full dessert assortment or ice cream station. You will be limited by the dessert items the caterer or venue offers in its dessert buffet menu.
If you’re a do-it-yourself-type, you might save more time and money with a dessert buffet. This is because you, friends and family can buy or make desserts, such as puffed rice treats, cookies, brownies and cupcakes. This helps save on the cost of a professionally catered dessert buffet. While you can also make a wedding cake at home, it requires experience and skill, especially if you’re creating a multi-tiered cake. Making the items for a dessert bar may take a few hours, while a wedding cake usually takes several days to make.
If you can’t decide, there’s always the option of both. To save on costs, consider using a faux wedding cake -- a set of foam tiers that look and are decorated like a wedding cake. The top tier can be real or fake. Serve guests sheet cakes so they still get some cake. A simple dessert buffet can be used to supplement the cake. Or, create a tower of cupcakes instead of a wedding cake to have the grand look of a wedding cake, but at a lower cost.
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