Cutting the Wedding CakeThe wedding cake is a long-enduring tradition. It’s still a part of many celebrations, even with newer trends like cupcake and donut towers. Cutting the first slice can be a fun and meaningful custom, even if you don’t serve a full wedding cake to your guests. Learning more about the practice can help you craft your own approach on your big day.

The History Behind Cake Cutting

The exact origins of the cake-cutting tradition aren’t clear. Brides writer Liz Susong mentions the ancient Roman custom of breaking bread over the happy couple’s heads, leaving guests scrambling to grab up the crumbs to gain blessings. At Western weddings in the past, the bride was usually responsible for cutting the first cake slice. Now, couples generally share this moment by slicing the first piece together.

The Spruce’s Michelle Anderson briefly describes the evolution of the cake-cutting process. With the advent of multilayered confections, the act of cutting and distribution became more complex. In modern times, the cake is typically whisked away to the kitchen to be divided and plated for distribution after the couple has sliced small pieces to feed each other. Over time, this ceremony came to represent the new life that a married pair starts to forge together.

Tips for Cutting Your Cake

When will your cake-cutting ceremony take place? The Knot’s Maggie Seaver mentions that this generally happens during the reception’s last hour, but you can shift it to earlier in your festivities. Seaver lists several ideal moments for the first slice:

  • After the first dance
  • Following the honor attendants’ toasts
  • Once the final speech has ended

The Knot also discusses a few important elements of the cake-cutting ceremony. You’ll need a knife and server set, but the actual cuts should only be made with the knife. Common wisdom advises taking your first slices from the bottom layer, but you should check with your baker to confirm this. Meanwhile, don’t overlook the physical placement of your cake table. It should be located within easy view for your photographers to get prime shots of the moment.

To Smash or Not To Smash?

Of course, there’s more to the cake-cutting ceremony than sliding a knife through your sweet towering treat. Depending on the couple, they may either simply give a few bites of cake or smash them in each other’s faces. In this case, surprises can be bad things. That’s why Martha Stewart Weddings’ Laura Miller stresses the importance of discussing and deciding on your approach in advance. Smaller pieces with no decorations are best for smashing, or you can simply feed each other or playfully dab a bit of frosting on each other’s noses.

What If You Don’t Serve Cake?

Who says you have to serve cake to enjoy such a magic moment? Couples now elect to feed each other cupcakes or bites of pie, cheesecake, donuts, or whatever dessert they chose. You may even order a small “cutting cake” just for the ceremony and a larger sheet cake for guests, as Martha Stewart Weddings’ Alyssa Brown mentions. Whatever you decide, be sure to collaborate with your baker to get ideal results.

Weddings are joyful celebrations, but they’re also collections of customs handed down to us or newly crafted to reflect our values. Cutting the cake can be a significant moment at your reception, so a little pre-planning is necessary to make it memorable and enjoyable. You and your future spouse should be on the same page when it comes to key elements such as when to slice the cake and how you’ll feed it to each other. Collaboration on these details may become a reflection on how you’ll work together as a married couple.


Category: Wedding Materials

receptions wedding cake

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