Wedding Trifles: A Guide

(I wrote this post a month ago but just got around to inserting the pics.  Enjoy!)

My sister and her new husband aren’t big cake people.  They are, however, trifle people.

Are you familiar with trifles? According to Miriam-Webster:

trifle – noun. a dessert typically consisting of plain or sponge cake often soaked with wine or spirits (as brandy or rum) and topped with layers of preserves, custard, and cream

This definition describes the traditional British dessert, which isn’t too far off from what we make.  In our world, a trifle consists of a creamy layer into which some sort of baked good like cake or brownies or cookies is crumbled, and a sweet accent like candy bars or fruit (or both–T’s favorite has raspberries and brownies!).  And lots of whipped cream, all repeated two or three times in layers like a parfait.

For their wedding reception, they decided to serve trifles rather than traditional wedding cake.  Trifles are fairly easy to make with a bit of time, so it was decided that we would take on the trifles as a wedding week project for those who arrived a couple of days early.  I was sad that I couldn’t be more involved in A’s wedding planning, and with our hectic summer I missed a lot of the lead-up events including their engagement party, a party in New Orleans thrown by M’s family, and her wedding shower in our hometown.  I wanted a piece of the planning action, though, so I offered to take charge on the trifles.  We knew that such a big DIY project would require organization, which we did in phases: planning, testing, assembling, and eating.

1. Planning

This part was easy for me!  Once the decision to make trifles was made, we just needed recipes.  A picked three recipes that were her favorites:

  • Chocolate Trifle
  • Banana Pudding (not typically a trifle, but we layered it like the other recipes and called it one!)
  • Strawberry Trifle (a recipe from a friend, let me know if you want me to post it)

She also decided based on her estimated reception size of 250 to make 150 servings of both chocolate and banana and 100 servings of strawberry.

2. Testing

A had made each of the recipes multiple times, but they were all new to me.  I wanted to be sure I was comfortable with each of them, and we wanted to make sure they held up over two days in the refrigerator.  We had to make the trifles ahead of time, of course, so this was very important.  In our tests, they all turned out fine, but I picked up a few important tips like thoroughly beating the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk in the banana pudding before the cold milk was added to keep the mixture smooth.

The chocolate test batch, made in T's family's cottage that was without power or water that day.  Definitely the easiest to whip up.

The chocolate test batch, made in T’s family’s cottage that was without power or water that day. Definitely the easiest to whip up.

I also fine-tuned the planning process by calculating how much trifle we needed to make based on how many people A expected and making a master grocery list.

3. Assembling

Our objective on assembly day was to make  7 recipes of strawberry trifle and 10 recipes each of chocolate and banana.  Mom and A bought all the groceries on Wednesday before the wedding.  The only thing we did ahead of time was bake and freeze the 10 pans of brownies required for the 10 recipes of chocolate trifle.

Lots of cans of goodness.

Lots of cans of goodness.

On Thursday morning at 9 AM, we showed up at sister K’s new townhouse (thanks to her new roommates for letting us take over the kitchen while they worked!) to get started.  The team was A, Mom, Mom’s friend K from Kingsport, A’s friend A from South Carolina, me, and KLC.  KLC was very helpful, especially when she took a 2+ hour nap.

Mom, K, and Friend A

Part of the team: Mom, K, and Friend A

We made 1 recipe of each trifle in a nice, glass trifle dish for display at the reception.  The other recipes were prepared in disposable aluminum sheet pans.

Mom was an expert wafer placer.

Mom was an expert wafer placer.

We finished at 4:30 PM.  It was a long but fun day.  I personally love being involved in projects like this that are collaborative, time-sensitive, and goal-oriented.

Almost finished at this point.

Almost finished at this point.

A looked so pretty that day, and all week.  She was so excited to get married!

A looked so pretty that day, and all week. She was so excited to get married!

Tips I would give someone attempting a similar feat:

  • Don’t skip the testing phase, and make notes as you go.  Go over those notes with whomever is assembling the final product.  We had a couple of issues with the assembly when that knowledge transfer hadn’t happened, but nothing major.

    What a cheerful worker!

    What a cheerful worker!

  • Remember that you’re going to need a lot of refrigerator space at the end.  Fortunately for us, the reception site was at a brewery with a huge walk-in refrigerator that they were glad to let us use.
  • Have a runner on the assembly day. We had to go back not once but twice for cool whip.  Where did it all go???  We don’t know.  Also, we needed diet dr. pepper to get through the afternoon.  Don’t be annoyed by the trips back to the store.  Embrace them.
  • Enlist utility players. Mom’s friend K was invaluable to the day because she was constantly looking for something to do.  When she wasn’t working on a specific trifle, she was always washing dishes or putting things away or just generally being helpful.

    K being helpful!

    K being helpful!

4. Eating

A&M enlisted a day-of wedding coordinator.  On the day of the wedding, the coordinator and her cronies scooped all the sheet pans of trifle into 5-oz clear plastic cups.  We gave them bags of crushed vanilla wafers and candy bars to top the banana and chocolate trifles as they scooped because it’s nicer to have the topping taste crunchier and fresher.  The strawberry trifle had sliced strawberries to top it, and we enlisted the help of A’s former roommates who lived in ATL and had access to a kitchen and a willingness to pitch in for day-of strawberry slicing.  The strawberries on the bottom of the trifle were softer from the two days in the refrigerator, but the strawberries on top were nice and fresh so you didn’t really notice.

A&M “cut” the trifle part-way through the ceremony, then tables of pre-scooped trifle were brought out for the taking.  Dancing started in earnest at that point, and the revelers could easily grab their dessert as they boogied down.

A pretty interesting wedding desert, wouldn’t you say?  It was really tasty!  (I opted for the chocolate at the reception, but I sampled them all on the assembly day.)


One thought on “Wedding Trifles: A Guide

What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s