Let Them Eat Cinnamon Buns: Offbeat Bride talks to the New York Times about wedding cake alternatives

June 15 |
Schlopp with a Cherry on Top!
Schlopp with a Cherry on Top! Photo by Seattle's Ben Blood

Ariel was quoted in a New York Times article that just published today, Let Them Eat Cinnamon Buns:

Ariel Meadow Stallings, the founder and publisher of Offbeat Bride, a wedding blog, said, "It's not an anti-cake movement, it's more like: If you're going to spend a fortune to feed your guests at your wedding, you might as well feed them something you're going to really enjoy, and that they're going to really enjoy."

She has featured ceremonies in which candied apples, churros and even schlopp, a Dr. Seuss-inspired parfait, take the place of the cake. Ms. Stallings said the couples' challenge is making less formal substitutions look special.

Ms. Stallings added, "Candy buffets can be really colorful, and really playful, and have a real sense of fun."


Read the full article, and tell us: how are you making YOUR non-wedding cake dessert look special?

  1. We had miniature fudge doughnuts (little doughtnuts with creme patisserie on the inside and fudge on top, they're a regional speciality) but still stacked them on a lovely cake stand, with the 'cake' topper taking up the top tier. Looked fab and mostly importantly they were DELICIOUS.

    2 agree
  2. I went to a wedding once where exactly one piece of cake was eaten–the piece the couple shared. The rest was just cut and sat there on individual little plates for the rest of the night. I can't imagine having spent that much money on a cake and seeing it demolished only to be completely ignored. It was ignored, in part, because no one really made a proper announcement in the dark ballroom along the lines of "get up and get a slice of cake. Eat the cake. EAT IT."
    I've been tossing around dessert ideas for a long time, and I've never had a "YES THAT" moment. But I DO know that part of the key to dessert success is making sure that no one can possibly forget it's there.

    7 agree
    • Something like that happened at my wedding. ^^() I made the cakes myself, but made more than I really should have. The problem with running a wedding yourself is that you lose track of time and then your mom tells you it's 7:30 and half the guests have left already and you should probably cut the damned cake now. >.< On the other hand, I got to bring home leftover cake and it was delicious.

      3 agree
    • Maybe thats why my husband insisted on personally serving everyone the cake. He carried slices around on a big platter and I handed them out.

      3 agree
  3. OMG! I said this at when hanging out with some of my friends in April. I am going to have cinnabuns at my wedding. Why not???? People are going to talk about me and what I am doing, why not have my fun and not have the stale wedding cake. We are having cinnabuns, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, cotton candy, whatever you can think is at a carnival we are having it!!!!

    4 agree
  4. I had a small cake for show, but supplemented it with mini-whoopie pies wrapped in polka-dot cellophane overflowing from wooden bowls. They looked and tasted great. The local company (www.wickedwhoopies.com) makes the minis in regular (chocolate) flavor, as well as lemon, strawberry, and chocolate chip.

    1 agrees
    • Oooh, we're having whoopie pies too! We're having several different flavors as well. Go Maine!

      0 agree
      • Yes!!! We're doing a whoopie pie tower instead of a wedding cake, too. Four flavors of whoopie goodness; classic, pumpkin/cream cheese, chocolate/peanut butter, and vanilla/lemon. We're getting married in New Mexico, so I'm ordering ours from a guy in Denver, but is originally from Maine, so he does 'em right. :)

        0 agree
  5. I recently went to a wedding where they had a cart come in and make minature donuts on the spot. It was AWESOME. They were warm and delicious and they had little doggie bags that you could put them in for later (which was awesome the next morning!)

    4 agree
    • YUM!! That sounds absolutely fabulous! I saw someone who had an ice cream buffet at their wedding, and I see where my favorite place (Marble Slab Creamery) does them. If we were getting married local and not eloping I would totally do that instead of cake!

      1 agrees
  6. I actually really love cake. Birthday cake, wedding cake, you name it. So I'm having cake because I LOVE it. Also we're having Pies. :-)

    2 agree
    • Awesome! I do want to be clear here: talking about cake-alternatives in NO WAY means I'm anti-cake. I served carrot cake at my wedding because I fucking love carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

      This is all to say: cake is great if you love cake. If you don't love cake, there are other awesome things to serve!

      EVERYBODY WINS!

      7 agree
      • I luvs carrot cake too – it will be one of the layers on our cake. And if no one eats the cake, well – YAY! More for us – we could live on pizzas and cake for a week at least!

        0 agree
    • I was totally caught off-guard, reading this where people said they actually HATE wedding cake. Not prefer pie (who doesn't) but HATE wedding cake? Is it wedding cake or all cake? I LOVE cake; wedding or otherwise. I always weasel myself a corner slice with three times the frosting and the flower on top.

      We're doing wedding cake, but I'd like to think that it'll be tasty. It's not one of those stiff fondant cakes, but butter cream and lemon cake. How could it be bad?? I personally plan on skipping dinner and then eating cake until I'm sick. It's kinda one of my childhood dreams, really.

      Oh, and we're having doughnuts, too. Because I love doughnuts and love thinking about a pile of glazed old fashioneds on an elegant cake stand with a penant stuck in the pile.

      1 agrees
      • Mr. Ivriniel and I don't much care for cake. Especially for icing. It's just too sweet.

        On the other hand I love fruit cake, which is what my parents had for a wedding cake (more specifically, they had a Jamaican Black Cake made by a friend of my mother's) which at least in this parts, was the traditional wedding cake for the longest time.

        0 agree
    • I think a lot of the reason people say they hate wedding cake (and wedding cake specifically) is because, at least for all the wedding I've been to, and my husband has been to, and my friends have been to, wedding cakes tend to be very dry and flavorless. They are often a boring taste (if they taste like anything at all) because they are trying to appeal to everyone with one flavor, and they are often dry because they are made days in advance, and have to be fairly sturdy to be decorated prettily and cut prettily. I love the fact that, more and more, cakes at weddings are becoming more like real, everyday cakes that are moist and delicious and come in FLAVORS (even if it's just yellow cake)! So yes, I do think people hate wedding cakes specifically, as a general rule, without necessarily hating cake (because I mean… how can you hate all cakes??)

      8 agree
      • All of my ex-boyfriends hate all cakes; my current boyfriend loves cake. I just… can't… imagine being with someone who won't eat too much cake with me. This one's a keeper, haha.

        9 agree
        • I just…I agree so hard, that was in fact the first thing on this entire website I've THIS-ed. And I've been stalking this website for years.

          1 agrees
      • I agree.. I am not a huge "wedding cake" fan. That is why I have specifically asked for a huge yummy birthday cake disguised as a wedding cake… Birthday cake I like :)

        0 agree
    • Have a funnel cake station. When I was in culinary school we would make the funnel cakes and 1/2 cook them at the school, set up our portable station at our destination, then fry and garnish to order. If you can't find a bakery, search vendors, see if your venue has this option, or check out your local schools.

      2 agree
    • i feel this way about mardi gras king cakes

      0 agree
  7. This makes me sad… wedding cake is how I make my living! :(

    0 agree
    • Halle, just because some people choose to wear non-white wedding dresses doesn't mean that David's Bridal is going out of business any time soon.

      In the same manner, there will always be people serving wedding cake. I don't think your business is going to be affected by this niche trend.

      5 agree
      • I know that business won't be affected, I just don't want to lose any of my offbeat brides. They're my favorite. Shhh… don't tell the others.

        7 agree
      • It's a HUGE trend here to do both–have a candy buffet and a massive cake or little individual wedding cakes on every table but serve whoopie pies and signature cocktails as "dessert". Some of our brides do a traditional wedding cake, then use a less traditional dessert as the groom's cake. One couple baked a DOZEN pies themselves then had a cake, anyway.
        Just sayin'. I agree totally that the wedding cake is NOT going away, even at weddings where other dessert is available.

        1 agrees
    • I'm having cake and I'm offbeat! Lol. We're having my FH's boss's wife do our cake (she's a pastry chef) and its going to be marzipan with chocolate ganache. To hell with picking a generic flavor everyone might like… I want an awesome flavor that I know I'll love, and if the entire cake is left over at the end, well, MORE FOR ME!

      5 agree
      • Yaknow, I feel like this is a very Offbeat Bride thing. "Food left over at the end of the day? I'M TAKING IT HOME."

        So nice to know that Offbeat Brides will not only give your cake business a challenge with an AWESOME concept cake, they'll love it so much that they'll take it home with them and nom on it for days. :)

        1 agrees
        • If I pay for the cake, someone's gonna eat it. If that someone is me, then I win! I can't imagine paying for cake (especially if it's fancy, decorated, traditional, overpriced cake) and then NOT taking it if there's any left.

          2 agree
  8. We didn't ditch the cake all together but instead of shelling out $6/slice for a single cake that I'd have never been happy with on our budget, we asked family members to bake different cakes for us. It was AWESOME. Each granny made their specialty, the dads both baked something, my mom, my SIL, and a few aunts all pitched in and we ended up with a delicious and sentimental display of pretty much every cake we've ever loved. :)

    9 agree
  9. At my mom's wedding, years ago, we had a wedding cake shaped candle that was just set on the table besides huge pans of tiramisu. We had chocolate biscuits and fresh strawberries too. Nobody seemed to miss cake.

    0 agree
    • There is an amazing picture of my grandparents' wedding in the Bronx 66 years ago with the two of them standing happy as can be in front of the largest pile of cream puffs I've ever seen. – Beautiful – the urge to go off the cake path began generations ago :)

      1 agrees
  10. We're doing a display of petite fours! Basically, they're just bite-sized cake-like desserts. All of our food is finger food, because I want people to be able to be mingling most of the night, and I feel like this fits with that.

    I'm just not a fan of "traditional" wedding cake. I don't mind cakes in general, but don't like fondant and often a whole slice of cake just seems like too much when I've been eating, drinking, and dancing all night.

    We're putting our petite fours on a big multi-tiered display, and putting the cake topper on the top tier. So it will still obviously be the big, wedding-y dessert.

    1 agrees
    • Oh, petits fours were SUCH a treat when I was a kid! I'm putting this on my to-serve list for sure (along with pies!).

      0 agree
  11. We had fortune cookies- in our colors: orange, blue (blueberry), brown (chocolate) and white (coconut!) and a giant one to break together. We piled some by color into a big monogrammed hurricane vase that my aunt had given us and spread the rest around it and the giant one on the "cake" table! We also had a candy bar (also in orange, blue and brown) and felt that no one missed the cake that cost twice to three times as much as all that :)

    2 agree
  12. I have just never loved cake. Ever. I think I am missing the cake gene. We are doing a 1950's vintage back yard BBQ kind of thing. So I am doing cupcakes I will make myself. I found some cherry flavored ones I will decorate very bright "Soda Shop" like. I will also do a candy buffett. They are very trendy right now but oh so much fun for kids and adults plus we can do a slew of vintage candies. I am still trying to decide if I should do a few individual pies too. Since pies just remind me of the 50's.

    2 agree
  13. I'm not into cake, if I had to give up any dessert for life it would be cake. That said, the dessert at my wedding will be a complete surprise. The pastry chef at the restaurant we are having the reception at makes 5 different desserts every night. Everything I've had there has been great and the presentation is very artsy so I'm not worried about specialness.

    1 agrees
  14. We're buying a plain, round, white grocery store cake as the official "wedding cake" because sometimes the groom says things like, "We're having a white cake to cut, right?"

    Since all the women intimately connected with the wedding bake, the day before the wedding we're having a "Baking and Boxed Wine" day as a bachelorette party, and everyone is making their specialty. I'm making dipped chocolate strawberries to put on top of and around the wedding cake.

    Depending on how successful this experiment is, we'll run out and buy some more round grocery cakes to fill in any blank spaces on the desert table.

    Then we'll put all the offerings on white platters and cake plates, and call it a day.

    1 agrees
  15. We're doing rounds of cheese stacked on top of each other, decorated with fruit and served with quince paste and candied walnuts on the side.

    This will be post-nine months of No Cheese For Alien Spectacles and I will be eating allllll the cheese. I hope the guests love it too.

    3 agree
    • Oh man that sounds good. We are considering getting a wheel of cheese and a dude to stand and slice it for our cocktail hour. Cool idea to do that for your dessert!

      0 agree
  16. There's a woman in the DC area who makes ice cream/fro-yo using liquid nitrogen. It's just her and she's been to some major events in the area. From what I've seen/tasted her stuff is fantastic, easy to whip up batches as needed, and fun to watch. I fully intend on serving that in lieu of cake.

    Sadly I can't remember her name. Wah wah.

    0 agree
  17. We're doing a "decorate-your-own-sugar-cookie" bar instead of serving wedding cake. Fiance was sad that there wouldn't be ANY cake, so we're going to bake ourselves a small round one to cut for pictures and for him to eat. Everyone else gets cookies!

    0 agree
  18. I love this post! The boy and I are planning a "Breakfast for dinner' themed wedding and we're thinking a layered cake – coffee cake, carrot cake, and a cinnabun layer. I am HOPING I can find a vendor that will do this for us locally.

    (We don't have a date planned yet, but the wedding is essentially planned, ring or no ring)

    0 agree
  19. We're going to have red velvet cupcakes. It will be DELCIOUS!

    I think the best wedding desserts have to be the ones that the couple actually enjoys to eat. That's why I'm staying away from fruit cake – I cannot stand it!

    0 agree
  20. I am not a huge cake person. But I LOVE pies. Specifically, fruit pies. I know other family members are not in love with pie like I am so being that I am having a small celebration ~40 people, we are doing to have cakes AND pie and maybe some cheesecake! I love options and having a small guest list means we have a lot more wiggle room.

    0 agree
  21. Holy crap do the BF and I love cake. SOOOO HARD. Except at our wedding the plethora of cakes will not be accompanied by whipped cream or buttercream frosting, but heavy pouring cream! And probably also milk. We loves us some cream on cake.

    0 agree
  22. Neither one of us are eating flour these days — so — wedding cake would simply be for the guests, and we wouldn't have any!! Not an option because I LOVE DESSERT. So we are going for a 8lbs TRUFFLE by the amazing Gayle's Chocolates in Michigan (we are in NY) – I can't even tell you how totally psyched I am to cut into a beautiful, huge truffle and put daubs of it on fresh berries from a nearby farm! OMG.
    To you cake lovers out there – respect – but Dark Chocolate Truffle?? That's a solution I can applaud myself for! Gosh I hope it works!! :)

    1 agrees
  23. We are doing a destination wedding, and it happens to include lots of stuff we originally didn't want, such as a cake. AND THEN. It turns out they had this amazing bloody-looking cake: http://morganculture.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/awesome-cake.jpg .

    At the at-home reception (one of them, anyway), we're making cannolis, which is an old Thanksgiving tradition we used to do with my grandmother, who now has dementia and has no idea who I am. We get awesome AND sentimental!

    1 agrees
  24. This post couldn't have come at a better time for me, the Boy and I are looking to reduce costs for our wedding and the price of wedding cakes are ridiculous where were are from so it is cool to see all of these alternative ideas! Thank you

    0 agree
  25. We're doing cupcakes and chocolate dipped strawberries. I have celiac's (as do several of our guests), so we're doing both gluten free (from a fabulous gf bakery in RI- new england brides) and regular cupcakes . I also don't overly love cupcakes, so i insisted on having dark chocolate dipped strawberries as well. We're making our own displays (though we're having the gf cupcakes served to gf guests first, to avoid cross contamination).

    it was the most cost effective thing for us, and neither of us care about those mammoth cakes, so it was perfect too! love these other alternative ideas though (too late now). we had some friends who did an ice cream bar at their wedding- which also sounds awesome.

    1 agrees
    • Dietary restrictions are one of the big reasons why we opted for a bunch of different cakes. What's the fun in it if you can't even eat your own wedding cake (or cake representing item)??

      0 agree
      • exactly! plus more flavors = more options (for the same price) = more happy people!

        0 agree
  26. My first wedding we had a cake on each table. Then we came around and cut and served each cake.

    At my second wedding, we had a choice of apple and cherry strudel. It was so good.

    0 agree
  27. For our engagement party my stepsister gave us a recipe book for mini pies – so many amazing sounding suggestions, including pies in jars. I think I maybe want a pie table instead of a cake one!

    1 agrees
  28. My stepsister gave us a recipe book for handheld pies, for our engagement. So I'm thinking a pie table may be in order on the day!

    0 agree
  29. We had a cake of cheese! Wheels of cheese stacked on top of each other. It was amazing.

    We also had a normal wedding cake (wedding cake in the UK = fruit cake) but only because my grandma wanted to make it. So she made it and my mum and I iced it and we all ate loads of cheese too!

    1 agrees
    • That sounds fantastic, if only because fruit cake and cheese (especially Wensleydale or a similar cheese) are delicious together :)

      0 agree
  30. Neither of us is a huge fan of cake, so our plan for the wedding is going to be strawberry shortcake. We're going to have biscuits as the base for the shortcake, since that is what my fiance grew up with. People can then compile their own shortcakes, with whatever amount of fruit and whipped cream they want!

    0 agree
    • That is how I grew up as well! I didn't even know there was any other option for years.

      0 agree
  31. A wedding I went to had a tower of tiny pies in different flavours instead of a cupcake tower. It was AWESOME.

    I like cake but I don't like icing or frosting. Lots of women in my family bake so asking them to make a bunch of different cakes (I like cakes like carrot cake, banana and walnut, apple, lemon and poppy seed etc) sounds great.

    0 agree
  32. I LOVE my mom's triple chocolate cake and always request it for celebrations. Luckily, my mom kicks ass and offered to bake enough triple chocolate cake and lemon cake for all of our guests. Not sure, however, what my fiance and I are going to cut into since he doesn't love cake nearly as much as moi. We are doing something a bit offbeat for our toast though – homemade cookies and shots of milk. Delish!

    0 agree
    • We are doing cupcakes for the guests and a small two tier for us to cut into. We are doing two flavors: chocolate for the cupcakes and pumpkin pie spice for the cake.
      We chose chocolate because that is the first flavor of anything that disappears at family reunions, so everyone will be happy. We chose pumpkin pie spice for the smaller cake because we love pumpkin anything.

      0 agree
  33. Cake is not a wedding standard in my country, so we're expected to have croquembouche (choux stuffed with crème pâtissière and glued together with caramel). It might sound delicious, but it's usually absurdingly difficult to eat because of the hard caramel part. Instead, we're having a blueberry pie, which is a favorite seasonal dessert in our area :)

    0 agree
  34. We had a small cake (chocolate) but since neither my husband nor I really LIKE cake, we also had balls of eggless raw cookie dough in mini muffin cups. It was a big hit, and all the extra went home to our freezer to make cookies :-D We also had fruit and whipped pudding dip.

    0 agree
  35. Some ideas I've kicked around with the future husband (who thinks I'm kidding but I'm not!):

    * eclairs
    * brownies (I'm kind of famous in the family for my brownies)
    * tarts
    * doughnuts
    * pudding parfaits
    * cookies and milk
    * cream puffs
    * mini cheesecakes

    I only mention these because I haven't seen some of them in the comments yet :)

    The future husband is a cake guy – specifically, a German chocolate cake guy – so we'll have that for him for sure, but since I can't eat it because of the nuts, I think it's only fair to have a non-cake dessert buffet extravaganza! ;)

    0 agree
  36. My partner is allergic to butter. AND margarine. So when we eventually do get married (yeah… another OBB stalker… I'm not yet engaged…) I'm going to make our wedding cake – BUTTERLESS!!! I don't trust anyone else not to make him sick :/
    Bottom layer rainbow, top layer chocolate!!
    I'd love to have MILLIONS of desserts (like rainbow layered jelly, chocolate mouse, pies….) but for me personally, RAINBOW CAKE IS WHERE IT'S AT

    0 agree
  37. We are having a fun outdoor super laidback wedding with food trucks (more specifically a fish & chip truck and taco truck…with plenty of space for cross contamination with fish tacos) and other exciting things like a bouncy castle. Going with the general atmosphere we're having an ice cream truck pull up in the evening in lieu of cake. They'll have scoop ice cream and sorbet as well as fudgesicles, creamsicles and my fav lime popsicles. Even with the truck pulling up and all its way way cheaper and there'll be no tidy up at all :)

    0 agree

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.