For an ultra chic wedding or party, a stylish sweet table or dessert table is one of the most elegant ways to add that lavish touch to your party. Beautiful sweet table styling never fails to wow party guests.
The UK’s Little Boutique Bakery have created the exquisite sweet table above encompassing all the elements of dessert table perfection – complementary styled cakes, vintage decorated cookies, elegant cake stands and old style apothecary jars, fabulous florals, pretty hanging decorations, beautiful presentation and perfect symmetry.
There are a number of essential elements for a perfect sweet table. Sweet table styling is all about tying together those essential elements under your chosen theme or colour scheme.
To get you started in sweet table styling, we’ve put together The Cake Geek Guide to the Perfect Sweet Table below:
1. The Colour Scheme/Theme
Your starting point is always goint to be selecting your colour scheme/theme for the event. You can chose a palette of two or three colours. For instance, if using white serving dishes then white will be your third colour, so just chose two other colours. Don’t overdo it with multi-colours.
2. The Centrepiece
The next step is designing your centrepiece, which is almost always a tiered cake, but it doesn’t have to be. It can just as easily be a single-tier cake with a wow topper on a pretty pedestal cake stand, or it can even be a beautiful floral arrangement.
3. Sweet Table Props
Next, look at what props are available to you in your chosen theme. For instance, for a travel theme you could use a globe as a prop, with vintage suitcases stacked under the sweet table.
Pearls and Lace (formerly The Cute Cupcake Company) have reached the zenith of sweet table styling with their superb vintage sweet table below, including fabulous use of vintage props – a vintage birdcage, hatboxes, strings of pearls and cupcakes in pretty china cups.
Using themed props is one of the easiest ways to add panache to your sweet table or dessert table design. Vintage style lanterns and lots of luxe florals have been used to fabulous effect in the dessert table below from Bridesmaid.com with the home-made lemonade adding a beautiful extra touch for a summer garden party.
4. The Backdrop
This is the number one most over-looked element when styling a sweet table but makes huge difference to the end result.
When planning a dessert table, first of all check out the venue and where the table is going to be located. You could be lucky and have a beautiful antique sideboard at your disposal or a table set under a gilded mirror, in which case you already have the perfect backdrop. Or the sweet table may be situated in front of a bay window with a beautiful view. However, in most cases you will be presented with a bare wall and simple table covered in a white table-cloth, so this will have to be factored into the overall design.
One of the prettiest ways to create a beautiful backdrop for your sweet table is to use hanging paper pom poms. There are lots of sellers online on Etsy and other online party stores or, you can easily make your own from crepe paper: pom pom tutorial. It’s a great way also to bring your colour scheme into focus.
The pretty pom poms and garland in peach and white below left are available from Perezecious on Etsy. Below right, Cotton and Crumbs have created a stylish sweet table using powder puff pom poms hanging at different lengths to create a simple, but beautiful backdrop.
Below left, we have another pretty sweet table dressed with pom poms in three coordinated colours and accented with hanging garlands (image via Pinterest). Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds had the fabulous rustic style dessert table for their wedding with soft voile fabric used to create a curtain backdrop. (Cake by Maggie Austin, image by Marcus Nilsson Photography via Martha Stewart Weddings).
Pom poms paired with a curtain of hanging streamers create a striking sweet table backdrop (below left) and below right, you can see more details from our feature sweet table above by the Little Boutique Bakery, including giant-sized overlapping paper fans in the background and scattered paper pom poms under the table, arranged in an adorable playful style.
P and J by Design used a very pretty arrangement of paper fans in their elegant dessert table design below, which also includes chic crystal candelabras.
(You’ll find a tutorial here to show you how to make a paper fan backdrop.)
A kaleidoscope of colour is created with paper fans in the backdrop below via Amy Atlas.
To really create impact with your sweet table background, a backdrop of helium filled balloons arranged in rows of varying heights is a superb decorating idea. The two fabulous sweet tables with floating balloon backdrops below are by Icing Designs (left) and Jenna Rae Cakes (right). Pastel and glitter fringing hanging from open drawers creates a fun extra touch in the design, below right.
The stunning Amy Atlas designed white dessert table below uses four giant-sized helium baloons for an eye-catching backdrop, that works with the view in the background rather than impeding it.
The beautiful festive sweet table below styled by Sugar Coated Mama (via Kara’s Party Ideas) also uses a similar arrangement of extra-large balloons, which have been covered in paper scallops for extra decorative effect.
Below we have an exquisite example of how a creative and well-thought out backdrop can truly crown a pretty sweet table. The beautiful hot air balloon-themed sweet table is framed by a backdrop of paper clouds and pastel streamers – an inexpensive, yet wow backdrop (via Amy Atlas blog). Stripey paper straws and lemonade bottles give that extra touch of party prettiness.
Wall decals are widely available now in toystores and home decor stores and can be the perfect solution for a themed sweet table background. After the party they can be un-peeled from the wall and used again. (Cake below by Sweet Tweets Cakery, via the Amy Atlas blog.)
Below left, we have pretty fairytale castle backdrop that really adds to the sweet table styled by Pretty Little Events (with cakes by Sweet and Saucy Shop.
Of course, you can never go wrong either with a bunting garland or a “happy birthday” banner to set the scene for your party. (Image below right via Kara’s Party Ideas). Pretty pastel suitcases also make fantastic props for this super sweet table.
Foral patterned bunting in pink and blue creates a simple backdrop in co-ordinating colours for the beautiful dessert table below by dessert table queeen, Amy Atlas.
Two garlands of multi-coloured bunting in bold colours work great with the striped background for the ultra cute candyland-theme party below, again by Amy Atlas.
A “sweet shoppe” themed candy buffet below is accessorised with a simple garland of bunting against another striped backdrop, with helium balloons and whimsical paper pinwheels really adding to the pretty party atmosphere (via Kara’s Party Ideas).
Lace doiles are put to a fabulous use in creating a bunting garland to dress the superb wedding dessert table below by Princess Allure, Australia. The dessert table design is further complimented with a hession/burlap garland edged with lace, decorating the front of the dessert table. (Cake by Frosted Fantasies, as featured in Modern Wedding DIY Magazine/Issue 2, photographer Sandra Henri.)
Simple ribbon streamers in a pink and coral colour palette create and eye-catching backdrop for the pretty wedding dessert table below via Hostess With the Mostest.
Hanging garlands of paper hearts make a beautiful backdrop for the vintage wedding dessert table below by Sweet On You Designer Cups & Cakes (in conjunction with Sarah’s Sweets, Vintage Origami-Vintage Wedding Rentals & Decorating, Classic Creations Floral Design, Modern Invitations (signage) and Royce Sihlis Photography).
If adding a backdrop isn’t an option at your venue, then an alternative way to frame your sweet table is to add height. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to use a large or voluminous floral arrangement as the centrepiece, with the cake placed in front of it. Use pedestal stands and pretty boxes as platforms too to add height.
Below is an example below of a floral arrangment adding height and creating a backdrop for a festive wedding dessert table – complete with subtle paper snowflakes in the background also (image via Pinterest).
An excellent example below of decorative coloured boxes of various depths used to create height and interest in the sweet table decor by Sweet Street. The pretty colour co-ordinated teapot makes a fantastic prop also.
Vintage style hatboxes or cake tins can double as a cake stands also for your sweet table, with the beautifully colour co-ordinated duck egg blue and pink floral display below from Lulu’s Sweet Secrets.
For a very simple backdrop idea, a framed graphic like the example below can work great. Just ensure it isn’t too distracting and won’t dominate the sweet table too much. For instance, the graphic below has a grey background and blends in with the colour of the wall behind (image via Casarei.net).
One of the most elegant background props for a wedding dessert table is without doubt, a framed mirror. It adds the touch of elegance to any sweet table or wedding dessert table, with the beautiful example below by Connie Cupcake Luxury Cakes (image by Geminie Photography) .
5. The Front of the Sweet Table
Depending on your colour scheme, sometimes a crisp white table cloth is all you need to cover your sweet table. But don’t be afraid to think outside the box – for instance an antique lace table cloth really adds to the a vintage wedding dessert table.
Of course, you might not even need to use a table cloth is you have a beautiful piece of furnitue on which to set you sweet display, as in the gorgeous example below from Chloe Kerr Cake.
Another often over-looked element in sweet table styling decoration for the front of the table. Below, a pom pom garland dresses up an otherwise plain white tablecloth and ties in perfectly with the Cath Kidson inspired sweet table, styled by Envy Anvi, with cake by Beyond Dessert.
You’ll find a great tutorial here to make pretty pom pom bunting to dress the front of your sweet table or to use for the backdrop: pom pom bunting/garland tutorial (no longer available).
If there is space, then props can be used under the table to highlight the party theme such as the travel themed party below left (via the Amy Atlas blog). If you are using a sideboard as your sweet table, then open drawers filled with themed props looks great, with a pretty example in lemon and blue (below right) by Pretty Little Events. Bunting can be draped from the open drawers too to add to the party atmosphere.
Sugar Coated Mama have created another stunnng wedding dessert table below with a fabulous floral spring-themed vintage banner setting the scene at the front of the table.
Cotton and Crumbs have created another outstanding design below, cleverly using an empty antique frame to create a backdrop and accessorising with strings of pearls tumbling from open drawers. To give an extra dimension to your sweet table (and to create added room for even more sweet delights), add an extra lower level table at the front of the main sweet table to create even more impact.
A beautiful whimsical style sweet table (below right) is displayed on a stunning pink and white striped sideboard, accessorised with drawers full of abundant flowers. (via Pinterest).
6. The Sweets (plus serving dishes and labelling)
And finally, for the best part – the sweets and treats! A collection of old style apothecary jars are essential and you’ll use them time and time again. (image via Pinterest).
Don’t forget to hang some pretty labels with ribbon around your jar lids. This is a little touch that really gives a customised look of perfection to your sweet table design. You’ll find some freebies here: free printable sweet table labels in pastel pink and pastel blue from Stelloberry Designs (via Simply Peachy blog), more free printable dessert table labels in assorted colours and patterns via Candy Buffet Favor and a selection in lots of different themes here from Catch My Party.
Bakingdom have featured the beautiful and classic dessert table selection of sweets below including a macaroon, fondant fancy, mini cupcake and meringue whirls. You’ll find a recipe here for fondant fancies from Mary Berry: fondant fancies and a receipe for macaroons also.
Below right, we have exquisite French vintage lace piped cookies and meringue drops as featured in Hostess With the Mostest. You’ll find everything you ever needed to know about making decorated cookies at the wonderful Sugarbelle, including a tutorial on piped lace cookies.
Below right, Jelly Cake UK have put together a beautiful display of wedding macaroons and on the right we have a very cute display idea for serving plates – stacked in a vintage suitcase! (Image by Jenny Haas Photography via Wedding Chicks.)
For a quick and easy sweet table idea, meringue is a super versatile dessert from which you can make either the “chinese lantern” sweet skewers (below left, via Style Me Pretty, photo by Jasalyn Thorne) or the pretty lavender meringue rosettes, below right (by One Sweet Girl). Just add a drop of vanilla extract or your flavouring of choice to your meringue mixture before piping it in whatever design you would like for your dessert table.
Martha Stewart Wedding has featured the pretty “meringue pops” below left which are a great alternative to cake pops (and quicker to make!) and “lollipop” style meringues from The Cake Lady right with pretty rose bows.
Another super simple sweet table idea is the marshmallow pops below decorated with drizzled candy melts and sprinkles (via foodideasrecipes.com). Elizabeth Anne Designs have managed to make a favourite treat like a doughnut stack a chic and elegant addition to a sweet table with the vintage style rose-decorated display, below right.
Home-made turkish delight (from The Maple Cakery below) is another vintage style sweet that is a real treat for a wedding dessert table or vintage sweet table. You can buy home-made turkish delight online from The Maple Cakery (Wallasey, UK) or you can make your own version: turkish delight recipe.
While it appears to run somewhat counter to the idea of a “sweet table”, displays of sugared fruit make a simple, but elegant addition to a wedding dessert table also, which shows there are no hard and fast rules on on what to include in your sweet table menu – just let your imagination go! (Cake design below by Bobbette & Belle.)
So, there you have it – the six essential elements of a perfect sweet table:
- a pretty colour scheme/theme
- a wow centrepiece
- perfect props
- a great backdrop
- don’t forget to decorate the front of the sweet table!
- and finally, the most important part, the sweets! (plus great serving dishes and pretty labelling too)
For more on styling wedding cake sweet tables and dessert tables, check out The Cake Parlour Sweet Tables by Zoe Clark.