Wedding Cake Alternatives for the Couple Who Just Doesn't Like Cake

wedding croquembouche dessert adorned with white roses
D'Arcy Benincosa Photography

Wedding cakes are an iconic part of a big-day reception. But for the couple who wants to break from tradition, there are still plenty of ways to serve a show-stopping dessert that pays homage to the custom without serving an actual cake. Over the past few years, the wedding industry has seen the rise of many dessert trends: cupcakes, donut walls, and macarons, to name a few. While those options are solid crowd-pleasers, you are by no means limited to them when it comes to selecting a cake alternative.

One reason that couples choose not to serve a classic wedding cake comes down to pure preference. If you just don't like cake, feel free to serve up your go-to treat instead. Ahead, you'll see how one couple offered an Oreo cookie confection (a reference to their favorite cookie), while another served guests a Rice Krispie treat. Of course, if you prefer salty over sweet bites, then, by all means, skip the sugar altogether. A cake-inspired display of cheese wheels is a unique option for a savory after-dinner snack.

Looking to use your dessert to nod your heritage? Consider offering guests a confection, from Italian millefoglie to French croquembouche (like this one from Ladurée Paris) or Italian cannolis, that pays homage to a locale that's meaningful to you and your soon-to-be spouse.

Ultimately, a wedding dessert is simply a way to end your event on a sweet note: It doesn't have to be a classic buttercream three-tier. Guests will appreciate your creativity, regardless of the type of personalized wedding cake alternative you decide to feed them. Not sure which direction to take with your own out-of-the-box confection? Let a few of our favorite unexpected ideas inform your big-day treat.

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pancake stack in place of wedding cake
Vienna Glenn

Worried that your cake alternative won't feel wedding-worthy? If you don't want to deviate too far from a traditional big-day dessert, make a treat shaped like one. Even though this stack was made of flapjacks, the cake-inspired shape made the "confection" feel bridal instead of brunch-ready.

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wedding croquembouche tower
Katie Kett Photography

While wedding cakes may be customary at American celebrations, look to other cultures when breaking the dessert mold. Croquembouche, a patisserie confection made with cream puffs and spun sugar, is commonly served at French nuptials.

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Spanish Influence

wedding cake
Ashley Ludaescher Photography

Similarly, France's neighbor, Spain, is an excellent source for dessert inspiration. Spanish weddings often feature low, wide cakes that are more custard-forward than buttercream-filled, like this Cocina con Marta confection served at a Very Beloved Wedding celebration.

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tiered trays of cannolis
Daring Tales of Darling Bones

Still on the search for a unique offering? Continue your world confectionary tour with a jaunt south to Italy. Custard-filled cannolis, like these from The Fresh Market, are an Italian favorite—and perfect for your big day.

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millefoglie italian wedding cake
Williamsburg Photo Studios

If you want a cake alternative that is both delicate and flavorful, this is the option for you. Millefoglie is a traditional Italian wedding dessert, with layers of custard cream, puff pastry, and fresh fruit. This Dolci Di Mary confection, served at a Wonderlust Events wedding, had a little something extra, too: There was some hidden chocolate inside.

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Cheese Wheels

tower of cheese wheels stacked
Jamie Mercurio

Maybe you and your spouse-to-be simply don't like sweets. In that case, consider a savory "dessert," instead. This couple stacked wheels from Murray's Cheese to anchor their charcuterie-inspired Autumn Nomad display.

07 of 30


cheesecake selection for wedding
Rox and San

Of course, a cheese-inspired offering can be sweet, too, if you opt for a cheesecake. These desserts are incredibly versatile and can be filled with just about anything; this couple, with help from Inspire Styling, chose fresh blueberry as one of their Hééélijk confection's flavors.

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Bundt Cake

bundt wedding cake on pedestal
Kayla Yestral

If you and your soon-to-be spouse still want to have a traditional cake-cutting ceremony, choose a dessert alternative that needs to be sliced before serving. Bundt cakes, like these from Nothing Bundt Cakes, are unique options, but still lend themselves to the tradition.

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Heart Cake

karolina sorab wedding bride groom cutting cake with strawberries
Benjamin Wheeler

A love-filled fête calls for a heart-shaped dessert; a unique cake shape is a surefire way to set your wedding treat apart. Aquarella Cakes made this couple's heart-shaped custard confection and completed the masterpiece with a topping of fresh strawberries.

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Macaron Tower

white pink and brown macaron tower
Birds of a Feather

Take note of this macaron display if you're partial to the crowd-favorite French pastries. Displaying these sugary discs can be tricky, but certainly not impossible. A custom stand allowed the Gâteau bites to be turned on edge and stacked in a unique ombré pattern, creating a cohesive, elegant display.

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wedding donuts ether and smith
Ether and Smith

Donut walls have gained popularity at weddings over the last couple years. Rethink that trend by displaying these desserts in a pyramid shape, instead, à la this M Cakes Sweets creation. The result? A treat that resembles a wedding cake, but still deviates from tradition.

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Steak and Potatoes

duff goldman wedding meat cake
Amy & Stuart Photography

This Charm City Cakes creation may look relatively traditional, but it is the most unique selection on this list. Believe it or not, you're staring at a steak and potatoes cake—and it's proof that your dessert can be as savory as it gets.

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Chocolate Croquembouche

chocolate croquembouche arrangement for wedding
Harwell Photography

Chocolate-lovers, here's a cake alternative for you. Instead of blanketing the outside of this cream puff tower in spun sugar, as is tradition for a French croquembouche, the pastry chef at Old Edwards Inn gave the tower at this Toast Events wedding a decadent coating of chocolate.

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Ice Cream Sandwiches

ice cream sandwich
Jes Workman

Maybe you don't want a pastry-focused dessert at all. If so, ice cream is a great idea. Ice cream sandwiches, like these from The Catered Affair, are an especially fun treat for summer weddings; serve up a few flavors from your favorite parlor for a personalized touch.

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Key Lime Pie

Taylor Lord

One reason couples choose to forgo classic wedding cakes is because they would rather have desserts that are pre-portioned for each individual guest. If you're one of those duos, mini key lime pies are a solid option. How adorable are these tiny treats from Paws Up?

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Color Coordinated

wedding dessert chocolate mouse with leaf cookies
Branco Prata

This couple skipped a traditional confection, opting instead to offer their guests mini servings of chocolate mousse from Sensacions Catering. Pro tip: To ensure your dessert selection fits in seamlessly with the vibe of your wedding, have the sweets plated to match the aesthetic of the rest of your event's design. Thanks to the pool of turmeric, this duo's treats referenced the terra-cotta elements woven throughout their celebration, which Evoke DC planned.

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stack of pancakes on cake tray for wedding
Erin Wilson Photography

Having a brunch wedding? Serving a breakfast-inspired snack at the end of the day is a fun, on-theme option; it certainly was at this Natalie Scott Events wedding. Who could say no to breakfast for an early dinner?

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waffle cake
Hunter Ryan Photo

If pancakes aren't quite what you had in mind for a big-day dessert, look to another breakfast staple: Belgian waffles. Since they're made in a waffle iron, these breakfast-inspired treats stack nicely into a cake; top your creation off with whipped cream, which takes the place of frosting.

  • Reasons to Consider Having a Brunch Wedding Reception
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wedding pies cake alternative
Paige Molina Photography

Are you and your soon-to-be spouse hosting a fall wedding? Pies, like this one from Buttermilk Sky Pie, are a great replacement for the standard cake. Since they come in just about every flavor imaginable, they're also perfect for couples who can't settle on just one (serve up an array to cover all of your bases!).

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Topped with Love

wedding cake toppers michael and carina
Michael and Carina Photography

Skipping a classic wedding cake doesn't preclude you from having a special topper. Whatever dessert you end up serving, an accessory will make the whole treat feel even more big-day worthy. This couple's Nothing Bundt Cakes stack benefitted from a bent wire accessory, which showcased their initials.

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Rice Krispies

rice krispies wedding cake with figs
Cheers Babe Photo

Want a dessert that reminds guests of their childhoods? Take a note from JL Events' playbook and reimagine Rice Krispie treats in an elevated way for a dessert that feels as fun and nostalgic as it does wedding-worthy.

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Apple Strudel

apple strudel wedding traditional cake
Lacie Hansen Photography

Your dessert is a great way to pay homage to your family background on your wedding day. Take this confection, for example. An apple strudel from Pretty Please Bakeshop was a perfect choice for a couple who wanted to weave their German heritage into every part of their celebration.

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tiramisu wedding cake
Kathryn Bruns

This Bright Cake Artistry dessert may look deceptively similar to a standard wedding cake—but it is actually a decadent tiramisu. Mascarpone custard layered with whipped cream, rum, and coffee-soaked ladyfingers made sure this unique treat tasted delicious, while still looking classic and refined at this Bella Bodas wedding.

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stack of crepes on cake tray
Alicia Lacey Photography

Crêpes are everything that a wedding dessert should be—rich, decadent, and sophisticated. If you go the crêpes route, plan a display that is just as delicate and refined as the French confection. This vignette from So Lovely Weddings is a great example to inform your own plan; the lace-inspired cake stand ensured the 1 Gateau stack was a showstopper.

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On-Palette Macarons

on-palette macarons in place of wedding cake
Tara Francis Photography

Macarons are a wedding favorite, but there are still plenty of ways to make the French treats feel unique to you and your celebration. Take this Brilliant Weddings Co. display, for example. On-palette colors, greenery accents, and an elegant cut-crystal cake stand set the Foxtail Bakeshop treats apart in the best way possible.

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stack of oreos with flowers on cake tray
Brealyn Nenes

Are you more of a cookie person? Serve your favorite type—this couple chose Oreos for the dessert hour at this Infinite Events fête—and stack them in a wedding cake-inspired tower for a fun twist.

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Cupcakes Reimagined

cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla frosting with gold foil
Emily Wren Photography

Admittedly, cupcakes aren't a revolutionary big-day idea. But you can still breathe new life into these treats by displaying them creatively. Edible gold foil and a ceramic cake stand made these Nutmeg Cake Design sweets feel elevated.

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Fresh Fruit

chocolate cupcakes with white frosting and black berries
Retrospect Images

Wedding confections are often filled with layers of fresh fruit. Achieve the same seasonal, fresh touch with your cake alternative by serving cupcakes topped with ripe berries, as Pretty Please Bakeshop did here.

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Ice Cream Cake

Azuree Photography

If you're partial to the naked cake trend, but want something a bit more out-of-the-box, let Alyse Baca's ice cream creation inspire you. Especially at a summertime celebration, guests will be grateful for a treat that both keeps them cool and tastes great.

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Cookie Cake

Danfredo Photos+Films

For a destination wedding, serve up a treat that your locale is known for. Black-and-white cookies are a New York City staple; this dessert tower from Joey's would be perfect for a glamorous city affair.

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