Candy buffet ideas: How to save money and up your sweets table game

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Photo from Grace & Kevin's lakeside beer and barbecue wedding by Samir Solanki

Planning a big ol' sweets table as your dessert, cake alternative, or guest favors? This can either be a spend-fest or an exercise in skillful saving, depending on your choices and a little bit of luck. From cheap candy alternatives to space hacks, we've compiled a big list of candy buffet ideas to save money and make your candy buffet win over every sweet tooth on your guest list.

How much wedding candy should you provide?

A quick rule of thumb is to allow for four to eight ounces of candy per guest, but an easy way to economize is to provide smaller favor bags/boxes, especially if your wedding is mostly adults who will likely take less candy in general. Also, providing smaller scooping devices (or serving tongs for smaller jar openings) can encourage guests to share the wealth with everyone else. Think about including a sign that instructs everyone to "enjoy one bag," too. It never hurts to make things clear in a nice way.

Use bulky candy to take up space on your table

Candy buffet ideas to save money from @offbeatbride
Photo from Mandy and Nathan's candy woodland wedding by Ateia Photography
Marshmallows, cotton candy, taffy, caramel corn, bigger gummies, big gum balls, puffy pole marshmallows, Pixie Stix, rock candy sticks, and other larger candies can fill up visual space on your table so you won't need to buy quite as much to make the buffet look complete. Save any fancier/more specialized/more expensive candies for your smaller jars and fill up larger ones with fluffier and cheaper candy. Take a peek at the pricing of large bags of popcorn and snacks at your local bulk store like Costco.

Think outside of the candy box

Candy buffet ideas to save money from @offbeatbride
Photo from Jenny and Davis' Utah wedding by M. Felt Photography
To really save some cash, think about including really cheap items like generic, brightly colored breakfast cereal, animal crackers, ginger snaps, Oreos, pretzels, popcorn, etc. Plus, adding in some salty items tastes pretty yummy alongside all that sugar.

Narrow your wedding sweets focus to one kind

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Photo from Natalie & Iliana's laid-back bounce house wedding by Franky Lopez
Narrow your candy choices to one sweet focus like s'mores, a chocolate fountain, customized cookiesThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them or donuts, a cotton candy bar, ice creamThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them, or ice popsThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them. This will allow you to buy supplies in bulk and save on containers. Plus, these types of bars act as a fun activity in addition to a yummy favor.

Look for post-holiday sales

Photo from A creepy and elegant gothic wedding by Michelle Johnson

Planning a 2016 Halloween wedding? Early November of this year is your time to shine with post-Halloween sales. The same applies to post-summer and post-New Years bargains. Hit up big box stores, bulk stores, and home decor stores like HomeGoods and World Market for awesome post-holiday deals, especially on themed containers.

Find favor bags in bulk

Providing beautiful favor boxes can be fun, but guests likely won't notice the difference if you provide less expensive paper or plastic favor bags. You can snag these at bulk candy stores or in packages of 200+ on Amazon for cheap.

Look for candy containers with varying heights

Candy buffet ideas to save money from @offbeatbride
Check out the cut log adding height! Photo by Valerie Koukal, Rachel Koukal, and Joshua Kirsch

Another quick hack to making your buffet more complete is to include some taller dishes with stems in addition to smaller/shorter bowls. These allow you to add visual height to your display without adding larger dishes you'll then have to fill up.

Find containers around the house and from friends

If you can't find inexpensive containers in stores, see what you have around the house and in friends' homes. Lots of folks have glass jars, metal bowls, and other containers that you could borrow.

Buy heat-sensitive items early

Candy buffet ideas to save money from @offbeatbride
Photo from Jenny and Davis' Utah wedding by M. Felt Photography
If you are having a wedding in a warmer month, order chocolate and other heat-sensitive candy in March or April to avoid paying extra for faster shipping due to warm weather. Keep them stored in a cool, dark place to avoid spoiling or any other storage weirdness that may make you have to replace it later.

Use a backdrop to "fill out" the buffet table

Candy buffet ideas to save money from @offbeatbride
By Tyra Bleek for Gracie Lou Events
A cheap ribbon backdrop can add some depth to your buffet table without having to add more actual candy. You can also utilize signs and large labels on sticks to add height and fill out the table without adding more candy. These standing frames from Ikea are only $0.99 and act as awesome sweets labels while taking up space.

Offer up candy as a booze alternative

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Photo from Valery & Jon's buttons and games sweet tooth wedding by Alexandra Jordan Photography

For dry weddings, your bar area can become a candy bar area instead. Combine it with some mocktails in glass dispensers and you'll be offering up some amazing alternatives to alcohol, saving mega money, and using your venue space well.

Take photos early!

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Photo from Eat this visual feast: a rockstar groom and his spike-heeled bride at the Biltmore by Milton Photography
Have your photographer take photos of the table before announcing it, or you'll miss out on its prettiest time! You know your guests will do a number on it in no time.

Some of our favorite candy resources:

More sweet ideas:

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  1. I'm going to add here that I encourage you to 'fluff' your candy bar. Meaning adding bulky candy like marshmallows, cookies or even tissue paper to the bottom of your large jars so that you dont have to buy 10 pounds of small candies to make that one beautiful apothecary jar look full!

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