The Viennese (or Venetian) Dessert Table – The Sweetest Northern New Jersey Wedding Tradition

Close up of Viennese chocolate cups at Brookdale Events in Florham Park, NJ

Photo credit: Lin and Jirsa

In the New York metro area, there is no shortage of ethnic and cultural wedding traditions from all over the world enjoyed by modern couples. The Viennese dessert hour (or Venetian dessert hour) is a favorite wedding reception custom in northern New Jersey, and is often the highlight of the party. Evolved from Italian and Austrian sweets traditions, its popularity and creative decadence keeps growing. Creative wedding bakers at wedding venues all over the area, continue to innovate and expand their selections for today’s set of discriminating newlyweds. 

desserts brooklake

What is a dessert hour?

Although similar to a dessert or sweets table (which focus mostly on candies, candied fruits, pastries and other confections and is on display throughout the entire wedding reception), the Viennese/Venetian hour is different because it usually is enjoyed after the cake cutting and towards the end of the wedding reception or party. Known to be ultra lavish, the vast array of decadent desserts in the Viennese/Venetian hour symbolizes the sweet life hoped for and promised to the newly married couple.

At Brooklake, our Viennese dessert hour features a tantalizing landscape of multiple tiers and layered trays of our custom confections. Couples choose from our extensive selection of new and standard flavors of beautifully adorned cakes, buttery and flavorful pastries, gorgeously artistic tarts, dazzling fruit presentations and bite-size treats, to name just a few. Our complete Viennese dessert hour menu is available upon request and tailored for each couple who wish to add this dramatic and luxurious grand finale to their wedding reception.

The Viennese table got rave reviews from our guests! Everything about Brooklake exceeded our expectations and I wish I could do it all again. Having to postpone at the time was so difficult but I can’t say enough how much I love everyone at Brooklake. Thank you for making our day so special after such a long time. We are so lucky to have had you!
– Caitlin & Greg Baxter

Why choose a Venetian dessert hour?

As the married couple closes the party at their wedding reception venue, the dessert hour beautifully leads into their new life:

  • introduces new sweets creations and flavors from bakers’ deep inspirations,
  • shares the couple’s individual favorite flavors with their dear guests,
  • and brings back family favorites to celebrate their combined life.

Newlyweds and all their family and guests enjoy one final pleasantry on the palette before leaving the reception venue and bidding each other good bye with sweetly filled bellies. The seemingly endless presentation of delectable desserts also symbolizes the prosperity wished upon the newly married couple.

Best Decision We Ever Made! We had an amazing martini bar and Viennese dessert that people are still calling us about!
– Ayushi

So is it a “Viennese” or “Venetian” dessert hour?

Fortunately, it seems to be both! The terms are often used interchangeably at wedding venues here in northern New Jersey and the New York area. Although mostly attributed to Italian tradition, with deeper research the origin of this wonderful dessert hour can be traced to a legend or two in Venice, Italy, and Vienna, Austria. In the mid 1800s these two cities enjoyed the growth of shared cultural influences — and today’s New Jersey brides and grooms reap the benefits!

Bakers on the island of Burano in Venice, Italy followed in the footsteps of the city’s renown glass artists. They began developing many innovative and different pastry techniques and cookie recipes to celebrate the new sugar trade and show off their own artistry.

In Vienna, the opulence of its desserts and use of exotic and unusual ingredients, reflected the grandeur of its royal family’s personalities and lifestyle. “According to its own legend, it supplied Empress Elisabeth — better known as Sisi — with candied violets, which she ate atop sorbet.”

Close up of Viennese strawberry cups at Brooklake Events in NJ

Photo credit: Lin and Jirsa

In both cities, coffee and pastry shops began to line the streets showcasing a myriad of decadent selections, enticing passers-by and tourists with their elaborate, often multi-tiered window displays. Some pastries were even served with wine or fine liquors at these shops, patrons now began to linger at these “meals” – often for hours. At Brooklake, our Viennese dessert hour finishes the wedding reception and pairs wonderfully with our International Coffee and Cordial Bar, featuring espresso, cappuccino, coffees and a wide variety of brandy, cognac, port wine and liqueurs.

Spending time enjoying pastry creativity and decadent displays became the precursor to modern Viennese dessert hours. With this history of sweets in mind, now consider some stories of how couples from Venice lovingly gifted their sweets. Together, the full development of the modern day wedding’s Viennese dessert hour emerges …

It was all fantastic. The dessert bar was insane… chocolate fountain, cake lollipops, and it all actually tasted great.
–Tracy T., on Yelp

The Romance of Italian Sailing Couples

Legends of loving gift-giving and romancing with sweets abound in Venice, and connect the Viennese and Venetian pastry display to the modern wedding reception.

Candido, a young sailor in ancient legends, wanted to honor his beloved Lucia back in Venice. Returning home from a long journey, he presented her with some interesting and unusual beans he brought back from Greece. Sadly, on the lengthy trip the beans had gone rancid and were inedible, smelling and looking awful. The young and eager Candido, not wanting to let his lovely Lucia remain offended on the nose, the very next day presented her with a selection of sweet and tasty treats to – and also appeased her palette and eyesight more pleasantly. Nowadays you may find devoted modern Italian men bringing their own “Lucia” some tasty and colorful cookies each year at the same time Candido did.

Centuries later, according to local lore, Venetian sailors’ wives baked enough quantities of a traditional cookie called Bussolà burenelli. The doting women then lovingly sent a large supply of cookies with their men when they went out to sea for long periods of time. Baked from simple and few ingredients, Bussolà burenelli are S-shaped cookies known to be crumbly, delicious and lightly fragrant, that store and pack easily with a longer shelf-life. And, the cookie is so fragrant fables say the ladies were known to keep some in their chest of drawers to sweetly scent their lingerie. How’s that for romantic?

Fast forward to modern times…

The contemporary Viennese dessert hour quite likely evolved from these deeply intimate and generous traditions. It flourished from simple “gestures of eternal love” to become the more elaborate version we revel in today. It is considered the most “lovingly sweet sendoff” from the newly married hosts to their wedding guests. And at Brooklake we are renown for our stunning and carefully curated version of the Viennese dessert hour right here in Florham Park, NJ.

Contact a Brooklake event planner today to set up your dream wedding and dessert hour with us.