What Is a Venetian Table?

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An assortment of decadent desserts on a table with flower arrangements and a romantic sculpture.
An assortment of decadent desserts on a table with flower arrangements and a romantic sculpture. (Image: Scharfsinn86/iStock/Getty Images)

Imagine a long table, or even several tables, regally displaying an array of desserts of every description. A Venetian table is just such a display. At one time, you would have found the Venetian table primarily at Italian weddings. Today, the table appears in various versions under several names at all kinds of weddings and other social functions.

Venetian Table Basics

The Venetian table is basically a dessert buffet of decadent proportions. It appears after dinner is finished and the cake has been cut, a late-hour climax to the reception festivities. The basis of the Venetian table is a Sicilian tradition called the "Venetian Hour," which is a dessert course that offers pastries, fruit, cakes and coffee. The bride and groom present this lavish array of goodies as the Venetian table.

What's Included

The Venetian table is typically abundant and lavish in food and decorations. Desserts and staging can be equally elaborate, from the culinary creations to the linens, silver and flower arrangements. The table itself can range from a single long table to a series of tables around the room or several grouped together to create a sumptuous island guests can circle again and again. Often caterers wheel tables into the reception already laden with sweets for a dramatic show, or high-end receptions may present a separate room for the Venetian table or tables.

Venetian Table Desserts

Traditionally, a Venetian table consisted of such desserts as tiramisu, Napoleons, cannoli, cheesecakes, fruit logs, sfogliatelle and cream cakes. The offerings have expanded over time to include chocolate fountains with strawberries and pound cake for dipping, ice cream sundaes with a vast range of toppings and liqueurs served in chocolate cups. "Stations" may focus on individual treats, such as a bananas Foster station, a cotton candy station or a gourmet coffee station.

Venetian Table Guidelines

A Venetian table doesn't have set rules. All of the elements, from the size and number of tables to staging to food selections, differ as much as the styles and budgets of weddings. Opulence is the standard, but even that is relative. The Venetian table may be part of your catering package, or it can be included for an additional charge. Economize by having family members bake the desserts or by buying cakes and pastries from bakeries. You can give the Venetian table your own twist by presenting a candy-land out of childhood dreams instead of the more traditional baked treats.

Alternate Versions

The Viennese table is a different type of dessert buffet that appears at weddings and other social events, such as bar mitzvahs. Again, the presentation of sweets is intended to be breathtaking in its variety and decadence. The wedding cookie table is another type of sweets smorgasbord. The cookie table, which originated in parts of Pennsylvania and northeastern Ohio, gives wedding guests a generous choice of different types of homemade cookies, usually baked by the thousands by the bride and her relatives and friends.

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