So — you’ve caught the candy buffet bug.

You’re not alone. More and more brides want to see a tower of sweets at their reception.

Motives differ: some like how buffets allow guests to hunt and pick according to their personal sweet tooth.

Others like the fairytale flavor. Candyland, Babes in Toyland, Willy Wonka: some of our earliest dreams of abbondanza involve forests where gumdrops hang from trees, chocolate runs in rivers and pillars are peppermint sticks.

But just as with Hansel and Gretel, there’s a catch to the candy buffet. Namely? Pulling off a successful one involves a touch of magic.

And if that makes you nervous, rest assured you have company. Because a candy buffet isn’t free. Like any other “wow” aspect of a wedding, it’s part of your overall investment. And while the waitstaff might pass the hors d’oeuvres and the venue lay out the linens, you could be on your own when it’s time to design the candy buffet.

But not to worry: here are some tips from the pros for translating that bountiful delight in your head into a mouth-watering reality at your wedding.

The Secret to Sweetness

Scan all those photos of candy buffets throughout the web, and you’ll quickly spot two things.

One, buffets are monstrously popular. And two, while some are a feast for the eyes, others seem to fall short of the heights their planners must have hoped for.

So what’s the secret?

Here’s number one: buying enough candy. Sounds simplistic, but it’s key.

Seducing the Eye

“The first thing I tell brides — you really can’t do candy as a hard commodity. It’s more a decoration,” says Jon Prince, president of online candy giant CandyFavorites.com.

“I talk to hundreds of brides. They’ll say, ‘I’m having 200 guests, and I want to give each guest 3 ounces, so I guess I need about 37 pounds of candy.’ Sounds reasonable, and 3 ounces might be enough to actually satisfy your guests, but visually? It won’t be enough to make a presence.”

Prince suggests that instead of seeing candy by the numbers, brides take an aesthetic approach. “You choose the flowers because they’re beautiful,” he says. “The candy buffet should be too.”

And unlike flowers, Prince adds, candy serves double duty as an edible item. “Still, you have to budget the candy buffet into your wedding expenses. It doesn’t work well as an afterthought.”

An Aesthetic Equation

But what about the wedding planners who suggest buying a pound of candy per person?

Prince says buffets work best when you plan by the eye, not the numbers.

“To make it look gorgeous, I’d start with the table, not the guest count. I’d take five to 10 types of candy, and buy 15 to 20 pounds each, whether you actually need that much or not.”

He adds, “When it comes to candy, the more the merrier. If you have a large table overflowing with candy, you have presence. The biggest disappointment I hear is that the candy buffet didn’t look substantial.”

Like a Kid in a Candy Store? Here’s What to Buy

Okay, so now you have a handle on those numbers. But between the heaping bins at upscale food markets and the galaxies of candy choices online, which temptations do you choose?

There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules, says Prince.

…like everything else in weddings, candy buffets are getting more & more personalized.

But are there any trends afoot? Any rush for a particular kind of candy?

Not really, he says. Instead, it’s the season’s colors and personal themes that are driving brides’ choices.

Andy Wignall of The Rock People agreed “you can always get a candy buffet compiling everyone’s favorite’s but people aren’t interested in taste nowadays, they are interested in theming and nothing stands out like personalized sweets.”

The Theme’s the Thing

To illustrate, Prince describes an all-white Miami wedding where the couple set up 20 to 30 pounds each of white candies, placing the unwrapped varieties in jars, martini glasses and other interesting containers, and piling custom-wrapped mint rolls in front. “It looked fantastic,” he says.


Then there was the bride with an Emilio Pucci theme, who ordered her candy in a stylish palette of brown, pink and green.

Mark Kingsdorf of The Queen of Hearts Wedding Consultants concurs: it’s the themes that shape candy buffets. “And like everything else in weddings, candy buffets are getting more and more personalized, with more and more variations.

Retro Revivals

“Of course, ‘Everything old is new again,'” he adds. “So you see things like retro candy buffets. At one wedding we did the candy bracelets and necklaces on the elastic cords; the little waxed bottles filled by sugar water.

“There are very few themes you can’t do with candy. Beach weddings are fun, with all those boardwalk choices: saltwater taffy, caramel apples, fudge, peanut brittle.”

Amplifying Your Style

“I like to focus,” explains Prince, “but the focus can be anything. Candies you personally like, or a theme, or a texture. If you’re having an all-white wedding, you’ll want an all-white candy buffet. If you’re having a destination wedding in an exotic location, you could choose dramatic, Caribbean types: Island Punch Jelly Belly beans.

“In the end, you want ‘presence.’ Mies van de Rohe once said ‘Less is more,’ but he definitely wasn’t talking about candy buffets.”

Fashion a Feast for the Eye

You’re set. You’ve narrowed down your choices… and you’ve got the goods. Now how do you add those visual touches that turn your buffet from “aww” to “jaw-dropping”?

…to make the look pop, raise some of your containers on a rack … or a milk crate.

Regal Crystal

For starters: choose cool containers. “One of the more striking displays I’ve seen put the candy in William Yeoward and Baccarat,” says Prince.

“Basically — and this is a good idea — the couple matched their candy containers to their floral vases.”

Affordable Alternatives

Don’t have quite that much fine crystal waiting in the wings? Here’s a budget-friendly alternative from Kingsdorf. “Find some interesting containers: different shapes, different heights. Personally, I’ve used a dozen different containers from Ikea, and the most expensive one was about $10.”

He adds that clear containers are best, to show off the contents, and that container mouths should be wide enough for the scoops.


Pro Planners’ Tricks for Better Buffets

“To make the whole look pop, raise some of those containers on the table.” Kingsdorf explains an old catering trick is to take a catering rack or a milk crate — “the kind that restaurants and supermarkets get their milk delivered in” — turn it upside down on the table, and cover with a cloth.

“A nice bunching fabric gives you spill and texture. Put some of your containers on top of that.”

The final touch? A floral arrangement. Or more cheaply, some complementary pillar candles in your wedding colors.

Don’t Forget the Take-Away

Kingsdorf adds that your most personal touch could be the candy bags. “At one of the weddings I did recently, the couple went to a dollar store and got a bunch of takeout containers in red, one of their colors. “They personalized each container with a little sticker, which was inexpensive and very cute. Anyone could do the same thing: use a tag or little rubber stamp, or stickers.

“Just find a way to add that custom touch.”

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (for Candy)

candy by color

So why are candy buffets so sizzling hot these days, anyway?

Simple: they’re a huge hit with guests. “Favors can be a tough choice,” points out Kingsdorf. “Depending on your guests, you might find yourself picking up a ton of personalized CDs or bottle stoppers at the end of the night. But when it’s edible, people eat it … or take it home. I think a lot of brides are cueing into that.”

Prince adds, “It’s just a trend people are enjoying right now.

“But when you really dig down,” he muses, “it’s not about the product at all. It’s about nostalgia.

“In a lot of weddings, two people are taking a major step toward adulthood. The candy buffet lets them connect back to any fond memories they have of childhood.

“Candy is powerfully reminiscent,” he concludes.

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1,244 Responses

  1. Tammy

    HI I am having a 76th Birthday Party for my mom the colors are pink and white can you send me some ideas on what to do and maybe some pics of canisters that would work best…..Aug 23rd its an indoor event

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Nancy B

      Go to http://www.pinterest.com and search “candy buffet”. You’ll get hundreds of photos. My suggestion: buy some old punch bowls at the local amvets or goodwill store (or borrow some). They are different designs, but all in clear glass, and approximately the same size. Use fairly large candies, if possible…the bowls are large. If you want to use small candy, like m&ms, use some of the cups from the punchbowl sets. I would look for a lacey tablecloth. If you want to have a color theme, use pink and white candy and candy wrapped in silver foil. Milk glass containers could also be mixed in… If you want to put cookies out, look at the thrift stores for some cute “antique” looking plates with pink flowers… they would not have to match. Go for a shabby-chic look. Finish the table with a silver framed photo of your mom and a small floral arrangement with pink flowers. Look around for pink “peppermint sticks” with white stripes…they have a nice, vintage candy look! Also, if you are having an event with a lot of senior citizens attending, don’t get too much chewy candy. Good luck!

      Reply
  2. Betty

    What are the best on line places to buy candy from? I have look at some but the they sell in bulk and it is too much for what I need.
    Thanks for your help.

    Reply
  3. Natalie

    This site suggests buying like 150lbs of candy for visual “presence”. This sounds like way too much candy. Another article I read suggested 1/4lb of candy, per person. I suppose I should buy all my containers first & see how much I can get into them?

    Reply
    • Dawn

      Hi Natalie, I had a surprise 50th for my husband in November 2012, I had all intentions on doing the candy buffet myself. I did a lot of searching online and did a lot of comparison. I found 3 websites that I ordered my candy from & bought some from SAMs club. The websites are nutsinbulk.com / candy warehouse.com / sweet services.com ! My favorite was nutsinbulk, large gum balls 4lb bags $15.95, very good prices! My glass ware I bought a majority @ a place I think was called home place! I bought & had 95% of the stuff myself, but with the stress of trying to keep this a surprise I ended up hiring my florist to complete the rest of the job. I rented some of her containers & lighting & all her decorated touches & she only charged me $220.00 & that was taking everything there & setting up! It was so beautiful & a big hit! I had 75 people, I had 60 pds of candy, plus not counting candy sticks, rock candy sticks, large lollipops, & I made 75 candy mold mustache lollipops! Everyone took home plenty of candy, but here it is march & I have a shopping bag full! But more is a bigger impact, I had about 20 containers & a lot of decor thru out the table! The owner of the venue eve took pics, sd he never seen a buffet so beautiful! Alls I can say if u have a vision & it’s within ur budget do it!! Everyone still talks about mine! Good luck & best wishes!

      Reply
  4. Deana

    My first Candy Bar I did for my daughters wedding! The big bowl in the middle was used for white, pink chocolate covered pretzels which was in the fridge at the time of this pic because it was warm in the hall we decorated the day before! My husband built the boxes for me out of wood which I covered with material that matched my daughters wedding colors. She wanted some candy in the wedding colors and also some of her candy favorites. I put the peanuts & mixed nuts in heart shaped bowls that I bought from Dollar Tree. I also bought clear candy bags from Walmart and ordered stickers that said Love is Sweet in pink & black from itsy.com (as I did the banner) to put on the bags! (which are not in the pic because the stickers arrived the day of!!) The candy bar was open when the guest arrived and it was a Huge hit!!

    Reply
  5. Toy

    Where’s the most reasonable online store for containers, risers, candy and more as it relates to candy buffets.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Susie

    tryng to pick a color for candy buffet…wedding colors are tangerine tango…consisting of yello, fushia, tangerine and green..any suggestions?

    Reply
  7. Mary Jean

    I am struggling. I am doing the candy table at my son’s wedding. It is a destination wedding at the college where the two met. The colors of the school and everything else is green and gold….not sure I want to have a candy table with just those colors. It is a Labor Day wedding. I was thinking about doing a college themed candy table with banners, etc. but can’t figure out what will look best. Help please

    Reply
    • Nancy B.

      Consider using the biggest containers for green and gold and placing them in the middle, possibly on a platform so they are higher than the rest of the buffet. Use green bags with stickers that say, “Go Notre Dame” or whatever. Depending on what college they went to, they may want to use football foil wrapped chocolates or baseballs. If the couple have photos of themselves in college, place them in frames and put them on the table, too. Consider getting them a college sweater or tee shirt and taking a photo of them in a “school-like” setting . . . reading under a tree, in a football stadium, in a library, etc. and have an enlargement made and placed near or on the table. Consider making signs for the table on parchment-like paper and using a font that looks like something that would be used on a diploma. You could also use graduation hats as decorations.

      Reply
  8. most grateful

    Has anyone had thier candy buffet during the cocktail hour?

    Reply
  9. most grateful

    Our sons wedding is in an old mansion, we would like to use the entire dining room to set up as candy buffet, has anyone ever done that? There is an antique serving cupboard ,where I am thinking of setting up the colorful candy in antique clear candy store jar.On the dining room table where a tree will be set in the center with place cards I am thinking of antique glass trays with paper dolies with hand made white chocolates. I would like to place canys on other pieces of funiture , plus I have a fireplace mantle to decorate. It would be easier for me to do all white, I think is is going to be diffcult with all colors. The bride wants all colors. Has anyone ever done this and have a picture oe have any ideas? Most grateful

    Reply
    • staceyleah

      Most grateful,
      I love the idea of setting up the candy buffet in the main dining room. I think having candy everywhere in different places with small framed signs with each would look so pretty. I could not find a picture of a candy buffet in a dining room but it will be perfect! It sounds so beautiful what you have planned so far.
      Source One…

      Two….

      Three….

      I am not sure of the interior colors of the dining hall. If she wants all colors then look to pale vintage candy colors like in the links I gave or go with a lighter version of her color scheme pulling in deeper colors in the floral arrangements.

      Reply
      • most grateful

        Thank you for your wonderful suggestions and pics and especially for saying it sounds pretty, I feel more positive already! Most Grateful

      • most grateful

        Has anyone figured out how many pounds of candy per 50 guest? I am having a hard time deciding how much I should get. Thank You,Most Grateful

      • lisa

        the best way to figure out how much candy to buy is by using the bags/boxes and see how much is takes to fill one up and then multiply by 50….give or take a few bags

  10. gina ellis

    I am looking for a price range from you. A price list or somewhere online to see what your fees will/would be.

    Reply
  11. Kim

    My fiancé and I want to use our favorite candies on our candy buffet however that is a multiple of colors. Any suggestions on containers that are different sizes but not clear??

    Reply
  12. hana

    wher is the cheapiest place to get candy i tried the bulk stores and i found them to be extreeemly expensive i’m have the glass containers with lids filled with candy as a center piece and as the gift for each winner help 💡

    Reply
  13. Amy and Kenny Kaplan

    My Wife and I are planning a Bar Mitzvah at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables on October 29, 2011. The theme of the party is the Beatles.
    Can you prepare a Candy Bar for this theme?
    If so, please send a proposal.

    Reply
  14. TREVA HALL

    MY DAUGHTER IS GETTING MARRIED IN MARCH AT A BARN PLANTATION WEDDING WONDERING WHAT KIND OF CANDY WOULD GO AND WHAT WE SHOULD USE AS HOLDERS FOR THE CANDY

    Reply
    • Angel

      Hi, I can think of using mason jars if the mouth is wide enough if not then you can use wooden sppons to take out the candy. you can decorate the table with red bandanas and hay……maybe use the rim of a cowboy hat…..not necessarily do you have to use candy…you can do candied fruit, perhaps cookies in the shape of animals, pie slices. perhaps little jars with a personalized sticker and maybe jam inside…. just a thought

      Reply
      • Nancy B.

        Consider buying some “bandana” print material, and then using baskets. Line the baskets with a different color bandana print. You would have to use wrapped candy for this. Use some old glass milk bottles for flowers. You may be able to find some old jars at flea markets to use for unwrapped candy.

      • Nancy B.

        To clarify: Use some material for a tablecloth, then use a contrasting color to line the baskets. You can use any kind of basket, but I like 1/4 peck baskets in “natural”. You could trim the baskets with ribbon, or paint them if you like. Consider “tipping” the baskets (laying it on it’s side), and allowing wrapped candy to “spill” onto the table. Check out Little Rock Baskets and places like Papermart.com. Or check out and craft store . . . some have nice baskets . . . use your 40% coupons.

    • Mona

      I would use nostalgic candy and buckets for the containers. Like old fashioned milk buckets (silver tin) and lots of raffia for the bows depending on the colors of the wedding.

      Reply
  15. Margie

    Just had my daughter’s wedding. Purchased 120 LBs of candy,16 different kinds, 13 containers. Ran out of most of the candy before the dance even started. Purple and gold were the candy buffet colors.
    Best thing we did, everyone loved it.

    Reply

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