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The wedding candy bar is not a new idea but it’s a popular one for a reason. Whether you like or dislike wedding cake, no one will say no to candy for an added dessert or replacement treat. It also serves as an excellent wedding favor that’s sure to go to good use. Who wouldn’t get a little giddy seeing a giant table full of candy at a wedding?
After attending quite a few weddings with candy buffets, here’s my best advice and research on how to set up your own dream candy bar and how much it will cost you.
What is a candy bar at a wedding?
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a wedding candy bar, you’re in for a real treat.
A candy bar at a wedding is a large dessert table set up with various types of candy that guests can enjoy during and after the wedding. Usually to-go containers are provided so people can fill one with candy to bring home as wedding favor.
The candy bar serves the dual purpose of wedding dessert and take-home edible favor.
Are candy bars still a thing at weddings?
Candy bars are still available and fairly common choice for a bonus sweet treat or favor at weddings. They’re not common enough that people expect them at weddings. Candy buffets definitely have a wow factor and a novelty still, despite being a frequent addition to weddings over the years. But they’re not so new and uncommon that people don’t know what they are or that venues are unable to facilitate.
Many wedding venues offer candy bar packages as an add-on with catering. Or they’re able to accommodate it fairly easily. And if you are planning to DIY it, candy buffets are easy to set up on your own in advance of the big day.
How much does a candy bar cost for a wedding?
On average a candy bar costs $390 for 125 guests at a wedding venue. If you want to save money, you can spend as little as $200 if you’re DIYing a candy bar for 125 people. But if you want to splurge and include things like customized candy, your candy bugget could be as much as $2,850.
Candy in bulk ranges from $3.99 – $29 per pound and you’ll want to account for 4 oz per guest. You’ll also want to provide serve ware and containers or bags to take home some as a wedding favor.
Of course, there’s a range depending on the type of candy you choose. You can save by buying candy mixes in bulk such as from Nuts.com Or you can splurge on personalized candy and packaging. For example, custom M&M’s will set you back $2.69 per package (or $57 per pound). And custom-wrapped chocolate bars will set you back $4.95 per bar ($53 per pound).
How much candy do you need per guest?
No need to pull out a calculator. Here’s a handy chart to help you plan how much candy to buy per guest count.
|Number of wedding guests||Pounds of candy needed|
I calculated 4 oz per guest and then divided by 16 to get the number of lbs.
And now that you know the number of pounds, let’s talk about what that will set you back per guest. Here’s a table of how much a candy bar will cost you (in candy that is) per guest count.
|Number of wedding guests||Total cost of candy|
I multiplied the number of pounds you need by the average cost per pound of $12.50. Things can be cheaper or more expensive depending on the type of candy you buy. But this will give you a good estimate for budgeting.
What candy do you use for a candy buffet?
The best candy for a wedding buffet is candy that is small and individually wrapped. Or candy that is easy to package up to take home.
If you’re having a wedding in a tropical climate, you may want to take extra precautions against melting by making sure the candy is always stored in a cool, temperature controlled environment. You may want to avoid chocolate altogether if you think it will melt easily in transport or storage. You don’t want an accidental chocolate fountain melting down the sides of the candy buffet.
You also don’t need to include full size candy bars. In fact, it will be harder for your guests to take home a wide assortment of candy if they’re full or king size bars. Give them a taste with fun size bars or smaller candies so your guests can load up on lots of different kinds of candy.
Keep reading below for some of my favorite ideas for what candy to include.
How do you set up a candy bar for a wedding?
Here are the essentials you need for a successful candy bar:
- Containers to hold and display the candy
- Easily accessible serving or pouring methods (e.g. serving spoons or containers that dispense the candy)
- To-go containers or bags that close
- Designated buffet table
As you can see, you don’t need a whole lot of equipment to create a basic candy bar. This can easily be set up in your house for any wedding-related event or at the venue by a trusty friend or day-of coordinator.
How far in advance can you buy candy for a wedding?
You can buy candy for a wedding up to three – six months in advance depending on the type. Most candy typically expires after 6-9 months. Some candy, such as dark chocolate, might last as long as two years unopened.
Even though candy doesn’t expire for 6-9 months, it might sit on the shelf for a little while before you buy it. So to be safe, I recommend you wait until 3-6 months before your wedding to buy it. That means if you’re getting married in January through April, you can use leftover Halloween candy. 😉 But if you’re getting married in the traditional summer or fall seasons, wait for the after-Easter sales.
Here’s the full list from CandyStore.com of when your favorite candy is likely to expire:
|Candy type||How long the candy lasts|
|Dark chocolate||1-2 years (wrapped in foil)|
|Milk chocolate||8-10 months|
|White chocolate||8-10 months|
|Gummy Candy||6-9 months (once opened)|
|Hard Candy||Up to one year|
You’ll want to check the typical expiration dates on the candy you’d like to include before you purchase to make sure it won’t go off before the wedding. And leave a few months buffer if you can since you may have quite a bit of extra candy to eat after the wedding.
Candy bar wedding ideas
Looking for some unique ideas for your candy buffet? Here’s a list of ideas we couldn’t resist including.
Hard Candies in your Wedding Colors
Get an assortment of hard candies in your wedding colors and put them in separate jars for a added element of decor to your wedding day.
Fun Sizes of your Favorites
Can’t skip the classics. Grab big bags of your favorite grocery store candy in miniture.
Candy shaped like lips? Or how about a bunch of kisses? Create a sweet trend with themed candy options from the wacky to the punny to totally adorable.
Candy in Bulk
The best bang for your buck will be candy you can buy in bulk. You could fill your whole candy bar with a wide assortment of candies in the $3-5 range per pound from a site like Nuts.com. No one will complain about free candy.
It’s just mint to be, right?
You found your honey, now share some with your guests.
Okay, we might be straying a bit from candy here but as a sweet treat, I’m including it anyway. If you or a family member loves to make jam and knows how to properly preserve it, this could be a great DIY, budget-friendly option to include with your candy bar. You could even take things a step further with different flavors, toast options, and tea for a lovely breakfast-for-dessert type thing.
Your venue might include a package for an assortment of treats or you can reach out to a vendor that rents fountains and provides the chocolate for a few hundred dollars. Don’t forget to include things you can dip like marshmallows, fruit, and graham crackers!
Speaking of graham crackers, a s’mores station would be an amazing way to gift your wedding guests a sweet good bye.
Either package up the needed items for them to take home. You can buy premade kits that come with a mini-fire candle if you want to splurge.
Or if your wedding is outdoors and your venue allows, set up fire pits and big trays of all the fixings.
Here’s the minimum that you need to make this happen: jumbo marshmallows, chocolate bars, graham crackers, long sticks for roasting. Account for 2-3 s’mores per person to make sure you have enough supplies and include some extra sticks in case some break or get torched. (Soak them in water a few days before to ensure nothing catches aflame that’s not supposed to.) You can also include other candy that melts easily into a sandwich like peanut butter cups.
Pre-packaged these make a delightful reminder of your wedding day that will last about as long as your guests can restrain themselves from eating them. Ask the bakery doing your cake if they provide or see if your venue allows outside food that’s pre-packaged.
Personalized chocolate bars
Adorable as a favor. And pulls double duty as dessert. I love this idea for a customizable wedding favor to give your guests.
Custom M&M packets
I love these for any wedding event, whether it’s a wedding shower, engagement party or the wedding itself. I mean who doesn’t like M&Ms???
Now that you know the basics of how much candy you need to buy, how much it costs to buy it all, it’s time to figure out if a candy bar fits within your budget.
You can check out my free budget guide if you sign up for my newsletter. It automatically calculates what you should spend where based on your budget and guest count and helps you stay on track. It’s like the fairy godmother of numbers.