The dessert bar has become a welcome alternative (or addition) to the wedding cake served during the reception. However, not all of us are able to hire a professional such as Amy Atlas to build a display out of color-coordinated macaroons that match perfectly with swirly lollipops and the table runner. So, here are the basic DIY steps steps for building your own dessert bar without breaking the bank.

The Set Up: Apothecary jars have made a comeback as the ideal containers for candy at the dessert bar. They can be found on several specialty sites at moderate prices. They can also be found cheaper still in the home decoration sections of various stores such as TJ Maxx or Marshalls, along with retailers such as Target. For candies, make sure you have candy scoops available so that guests won’t be so inclined to use their bare hands for loose, unwrapped sweets. You can also use more traditional cake stands and trifle bowls for your bar to display smaller baked good such as brownies, blondies, and cookies. If you’re still bent on having a wedding cake, use it as the centerpiece.

Apothecary Jar with Lid, $26.99, SaveonCrafts.com

Anchor Hocking Trifle Bowl, $9.99, Bed, Bath, and Beyond

Tiered Pedestal Serving Plates, $24.99, Target

The Decor: Your dessert bar will most likely be inspired by your color palette, which will help it serve the purpose of further decoration. However, make sure you add touches of decor to it to avoid a sterile effect. This can be done by adding a table cloth and runner in colors that are in line with your overall scheme. Use flowers, but minimally so they don’t detract from the display. Candles are a no-no; the heat may melt some of the goodies (especially chocolate) and over-eager guests may burn themselves. Even if your dessert bar is a carnival-inspired kaleidoscope, still add a pop of color found within the overall palette-just, don’t use them all, as doing so would be sensory overload.

This Amy Atlas creation uses a trendy color palette of yellow and black along with vintage-inspired vessels to display the dessert.

This Amy Atlas creation mixes a modern color palette of yellow and black with vintage-inspired pieces.

Colin Cowie mixed sweet pink, sophisticated black, and full-blown glamour for this decadent display.

Monochromatic candy bars such as this are perfect for minimalist mavens.

The Goodies: Candy is a relatively easy thing to buy in bulk, even old-fashioned favorite such as whirly pops or rock candy swizzle sticks. For items that are more of a novelty, several web sites that sell old-fashioned favorites are available. Otherwise, put that Costco membership to good use and stock up. If you have a bit more money to burn, personalized M&M’s in your wedding colors will be a fool-proof hit.

Bulk Candy Sites:
Candy Warehouse
Candy Direct
Candy Favorites
A Candy Store

As for baked goods, don’t look past your local bakery, as large quantities of cookies or brownies may be cheaper than you think. Even bakeries that specialize in wedding cupcakes or cookies could offer reasonable prices for their products. If all else fails, your local supermarket or bulk shopping superstore will gladly provide the baked goods you need you need with a professional touch and a low price.

These three basic steps will help you start brainstorming on how to build your dessert bar. If you’re in need of more inspiration, visit the following sites:

Amy Atlas
Hostess with the Mostess
Swank Sweets
The Celebration Shoppe Blog

…or, just type “dessert bar” in the search engine of your favorite wedding/hostess blog. I’m sure they too have something to say on the matter.

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