Every great wedding ends with two things: a lot of dancing and something sweet. As far as desserts go, while a tiered wedding cake is a tried and true classic, many couples often want to try something different to close out their special day. And whether you’re looking to add more to the dessert table or you want to give guests a fun, edible favor, a candy buffet is a delicious addition to any reception.
“Candy buffets have recently become a huge trend in the wedding industry,” Ashley Pate Newkirk, owner of Ash Events, says. “It offers an unexpected and delightful yet interactive experience for your guests.” Unfortunately, though, the perfect candy buffet can also be expensive. On top of purchasing enough candy for all of your guests (assuming they’ll each grab a handful of their favorite choices), you also have to buy bags to hold everything, as well as cool jars or bowls to create an aesthetically pleasing display.
Luckily, there are ways to come up with unique candy buffet ideas on a budget, and we’re here to help you figure out how to do just that. Following the expert advice of Pate Newkirk, here are the best tips for creating a budget-friendly candy bar at any wedding.
Meet the Expert
Ashley Pate Newkirk is the owner of Ash Events, a full-service event-planning company located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
How to Create a Candy Buffet
The perfect candy buffet contains a colorful and well-stocked assortment of candy, such as chewy sour candies, rich chocolates, sucking candies for the ride home, luxe truffles, and maybe even some nostalgia-inspired picks. Although it might sound like a lot, putting it together isn’t too difficult, especially if you follow the below tips.
Figure Out What You Need
When creating a candy buffet, your first order of business should be to decide on the style and size of your display, as noted by Pate Newkirk. You’ll also need to figure out if your venue has a spot for a candy buffet, which depends on how big you want your buffet to be and how much candy you want to have.
Additionally, ask yourself the following questions: Do you want your candy buffet to be the main dessert option? Is it just a fun, added bonus following many other desserts? Is the candy buffet more of an edible favor for guests to grab on their way out the door?
Lastly, do a guest count to figure out how much candy you’ll realistically need. “We usually suggest couples have around half a pound of candy per guest if you aren’t supplementing with other desserts,” Pate Newkirk says. If you are having a lot of other desserts, however, account for less candy.
Start Your Candy Selection
Come up with a plan on what kind of candy you want before you start mindlessly buying whatever sounds good. “We like to discuss with couples any candies that would make them excited on their big day,” Pate Newkirk says. “Something they may pick up on a road trip or order on a date night at a restaurant or the movies.”
More specifically, you can choose candy that means something to you, or you can go for some sort of color theme, like a rainbow theme or monochromatic aesthetic. But, really, there are no rules. “We have seen candies ranging from your favorite childhood sweets to gummy bears, cupcakes, chocolates, donuts, gourmet truffles, and even customized wrappers for custom candies,” Pate Newkirk says.
Another tip? Before you go shopping, be sure to make a list of the candy you’re most interested in. If you just go into a candy store without a plan, you can easily get overwhelmed or distracted. Having a list of the pieces you want will keep you on track, and, most importantly, will help save money in the long run.
Put Together a Pretty Display
Once your candy is purchased and ready to go, it’s time to make the buffet look amazing. “We recommend getting a variety of heights for jars, dishes, cake stands, and displays,” Pate Newkirk says. “Then purchase some containers or bags guests can use to fill, and either enjoy during the reception or take home. You can always use this as an easy way to add personalization to your wedding with a monogram sticker or vessel to match your color palette. Be sure to source not just the containers to store the candy and mini desserts, but small scoops or tongs so they can fill up their individual containers or bags.”
How to Save Money on a Candy Buffet
Now that you know how to put a candy buffet together, learning how to create a cost-effective version is likely at the top of your list. So to save money, or at least stick with something affordable, keep the below in mind.
Buy Your Candy in Bulk
Pate Newkirk recommends looking for candy in wholesale stores, or at online retailers or stores that allow you to buy in bulk. (Buying specialty candy from a sweets shop is fun, but that approach is definitely more expensive.) If there’s something you really have your heart set on, splurge on that one candy and opt for cheaper choices elsewhere.
Places like Amazon, Oriental Trading, Candywarehouse.com, and Its Sugar are all great choices when selecting your favorite sweets. You can also look at big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s.
Buy Your Candy After the Holidays and During Sales
“The day after Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and Halloween, for example, are perfect times to load up on a variety of candies and sweets at discounted prices,” Pate Newkirk says. And as long as you don’t buy the candy too far in advance (so they stay fresh), no one will ever know that they were holiday-themed.
Look for Inexpensive Display Options
You don’t need to spend much on display cases to make your buffet look good. Pate Newkirk recommends stores like TJ Maxx, Home Goods, and Marshalls for affordable containers and display vessels. Mismatched options are fine too, and can even look better than uniform displays.
DIY the Details
“Create your own signage and labels or purchase a template from Etsy that you can print yourself,” Pate Newkirk says. This requires a little extra effort on your part but overall, it will be the less expensive option. Or, skip personalization altogether: in all honesty, probably no one but you will miss it.
How to Make Your Candy Buffet Special While on a Budget
Candy buffets can certainly be very extravagant, but the truth is, you don’t need to spend a lot to make yours feel extra special. Really, just having some favorite sweet options on a table is enough to make guests excited about it. After all, who doesn’t love being able to snack on a chocolate bar at the end of a wedding? But if you want to make it feel more unique and fun, without going over your budget, that’s possible too.
One of the best ways to do this is to make it feel personal. “We feel you should bring in as much of [your] personality as you can,” Pate Newkirk says. “Try sourcing candies from your hometown or things you both enjoyed growing up.” The planner also suggests adding photos on the candy table, or something along those lines.
What’s more, you can “use a vintage piece of furniture from your grandmother’s home or opt for a specialty linen here as an accent,” Pate Newkirk shares. “The more dimensions you can add to the table, the more it will pop and give a luxurious feel. Spice up the table with pops of blooms, candles, and stylish signage.”
While it’s easy to go over the top with a candy buffet, there’s no need to feel pressured to do that. With some simple, inexpensive touches, candy buffets are bound to be a hit no matter what.