One way for getting “more bang for your buck” when planning your wedding is to be conscientious of how the cake or dessert will be served. There are two angles to consider: portion sizes and presentation.
If you’ve ever been at a buffet that serves full-size slices of cake and pie, chances are you left some on your plate. Just like you were at the buffet, many of your guests will be too full to eat a full piece, and some will not eat cake at all. Consequently, if you plan on everyone eating a regular-size piece of cake, you will end up with both extra cake and a lot of half-eaten pieces in the trash, which is both wasteful and costly. Avoiding this dilemma is easy.
1. Plan on 75–80 percent of those in attendance eating dessert.
2. Serve small portion sizes such as mini-pieces of cake, small cupcakes, little cookies, and individual candies. Guests can eat as much as they want, and fewer will leave wasted food on their plates.
3. For a small wedding, order a small but lavishly decorated wedding cake just large enough to feed your guests. This allows you to have an upscale cake but avoids the waste and added cost of larger versions.
The presentation can be more important than the actual food in making the cake or desserts look interesting, elegant, or fun. The most expensive dessert can look ho-hum if unadorned and simply set on a table. Conversely, stands, decorations, containers, and even the way a dessert is made can glamorize the most basic cake or dessert. Ideas for doing so include:
4. Use unexpected serving dishes. Even pudding finished off with a triangle of box-mix brownie looks elegant when served in a martini glass.
5. Add an upscale look to the cake or dessert displays with monograms or other decor personalized with your wedding logo. This can make the spread look like you paid more than you did.
You can also add visual interest by using different height and size containers. This works especially well for a candy bar (i.e., a dessert bar featuring candies). Or borrow a technique from trade-display pros and put different height boxes or other supports under the table cloth. This adds dimension, and it doesn’t matter what the stands themselves looks like! Of course, there are always the traditional stands, both single and multi-tier. These days, your choices go well beyond classic glass domes. That said, if you shop for new stands or containers at retail, the cost of buying them can easily get out of hand. To contain it:
6. Check friends’ and family’s miscellaneous vases, dishes, and glassware (especially clear-glass containers) first for dessert display items. You may be able to put together a nice mix-and-match display from that alone.
7. If there is a dollar store near you, check there for glass containers. If yours carries them, it’s almost crazy how much you can get for very little money.
8. If you are going for an eclectic look, uncover finds at charity and thrift stores.
9. Buy used fancier display stands, and then resell them. They are often the same price or less than a rental fee; plus, you have the added benefit of getting part of your money back through the resale (a current selection of decorative used stands and plates is here).
10. Buy apothecaries or other glass containers in bulk at wholesale prices, then resell them on eBay after the wedding (find bulk apothecary / glass jars here).
11. If you simply cannot afford the type of display pieces you have in mind, consider hiring a baker or caterer that specializes in dessert buffets. You may find their expertise and on-hand supplies can actually save you money, even after paying their service fees.
The above is an excerpt from the Dream Wedding on a Dime; 7 Secrets for the Budget-Savvy Bride ebook.