Ah, the great wedding cake cutting. The sweet and delicious moment of the big wedding day. A detail that is so grand, it even has its very own moment at the reception. Honestly, anyone that has been dreaming about their wedding day since they can remember has also thought about their wedding cake. And while everyone loves wedding cake and the wedding cake ceremony, choosing what to serve for this incredible occasion is not as easy as most think.
There’s the fillings and frostings to start. More styles and visual adornments than you could ever even imagine. And then there are dessert tables and toppers and even cake cutting songs. But most importantly, it’s the wedding cake cutting tradition in itself and deciding how to go about it. This wedding cake cutting guide will explain just that and answer some of the top wedding cake questions on etiquette to help you choose the perfect sweet ending for your wedding day.
The history of wedding cake cutting
While wedding cakes have been present at wedding celebrations for a very long time, they have not always been a focal point, and they have also not always necessarily been cake! During one period of time, it was a classic Roman wedding tradition to break a piece of bread over the bride’s head instead of the cutting of the wedding cake to symbolize the groom’s dominance over her. The feminist movement luckily helped us get rid of the enthusiasm over that idea and the cutting cake meaning behind something else!
The tradition of the bride doing the wedding cake cutting has continued over centuries, until the Victorian era when the bride needed the added strength of her husband to assist. During the Victorian era, the icing on wedding cakes was hardened and thickened to support the new concept at the time, tiered cake. This answers the question of why do the bride and groom cut the cake together.
The wedding cake tiers needed a stronger base to support the different pillars and the Victorian brides found that a great deal of strength was needed to penetrate the hard icing to be able to cut the cake. That is where the groom’s involvement in cutting the cake came to be, making it a joint responsibility in more recent history. The wedding cake symbolism has shifted over the years but has always maintained some sort of significance.
A modern twist
Along with the bouquet toss and the first dance, this charming little tradition is one of those photo opportunities that ends up in every wedding album. The cutting of the wedding cake represents the first activity done as husband and wife, although historically the bride did this act alone to symbolize the loss of her individuality.
These days, your cake can be pretty much any design that you can think of. From a ‘naked’ cake decorated with fruit and petals to a beautifully ornate cake with handmade sugar flowers, to cupcakes piled high, your favorite flavor and style of cake can be made.
The right way to cut a wedding cake
While it is your wedding day and you can cut the cake any way that you want, the correct way for the couple to perform the wedding cake cutting is for the groom to position his right hand over the bride’s hand and then for them to slide the knife into and through a section of the bottom layer of the cake. This is seen as the first task that the couple will have performed in unity for their forthcoming married life.
The first slice of the wedding cake is then set down onto a plate and the knife is again used to cut this one slice into two smaller pieces. Then the groom can feed his piece to the bride, and then she can reciprocate by feeding her piece to him.
After the traditional cutting that the first slice of wedding cake by the newly married couple holds, the caterer can then arrange for the rest of the base of the cake to be cut into slices and distributed amongst the rest of the guests. Other cake tiers can be used for later distribution to other people who could not be present at the wedding reception or for the couple to have post-wedding.
Other wedding arrangements
While you will want to plan ahead, it’s important to focus on other key decisions before picking out the cake design. Once you’ve decided on the color schemes for other details, like your flower arrangements, wedding gown, and the venue itself, then you can select a cake design to match it. Make sure to schedule a consultation and wedding cake tasting to ensure that you can sample the full range of cake flavors, designs, and options that are available to you.
Who Pays For the Cake at a Wedding?
This is a tricky one to answer. Traditionally, the bride’s family will pay for the wedding cake. But of course, as with any other wedding costs, there’s nothing to say that the groom’s family or the couple themselves can’t pay for the wedding cake.
Do We Have to Pick Just One Flavor?
Why constrain yourself to only one cake flavor when you can have two or even more? Bakers today are making cake tiers that feature different cake and filling combinations to satisfy both the couple and their guests. So if you are more of a dark chocolate cake with peanut butter filling but your partner is more about salted caramel or seasonal peach preserves, you can easily have both. Talk to your cake baker about which tiers can feature what flavor to get a more even divide, and consider a slightly larger cake since your guests will most certainly want to try both choices.
When Should We Cut Our Cake?
While it might seem capricious, the timing of your cake cutting actually plays a huge role in your reception. The cake cutting used to be the very last moment of the reception, mentioning to guests that they were welcome to head on home. Today it usually happens much earlier, but cutting your cake still serves that same purpose. The cake is usually cut toward the end of dinner, just before the dancing begins, and is the last big “official” event of the evening.
By having the wedding cake cutting on the earlier side, it will let your grandmother or other older relatives know they are welcome to leave whenever they’re ready and will communicate that they won’t miss any of the formalities if they choose to head home.
What do you say when cutting a wedding cake?
Prior to cutting your wedding cake, an announcement can be made by someone from your wedding party that you are about to cut your wedding cake. As the crowd begins to gather around you, your partner, and the cake, you may have your DJ play a song, one that you’ve selected ahead of time that might be a tune that everyone will know. While you and your spouse may have some fun banter and laughter before and during the cake cutting, you don’t really need to say much. Most of your guests will just be enjoying the two of you cutting the cake and sharing that moment.
How do we serve the cake?
After the cake wedding cake cutting is over, it is time to serve the rest of the cake. Normally, the catering team will serve the cake but if not, follow these steps. Carefully remove each cake slice using the cake knife and a fork, then place the broadest part of the cake on the plate. Be sure to continually clean your knife so you can continue to maintain a smooth cut for all the slices and each wedding guest.
Who Gets a Slice of Wedding Cake?
You should have enough wedding cake for everyone invited to have a slice. The last thing you want to do is run out of cake, as the cake is truly the special event of the night! Don’t forget to have an actual slice or two for you and your partner once the festivities start to slow down. You deserve it! If you have leftovers, it might be an excellent idea to offer cake to the catering staff or for your guests to take home, as well.
The wedding cake cutting process can seem tricky, there are so many things to remember, but by following this guide, you will know exactly how to treat this special moment.