The wedding cake, it’s flamboyant in its appearance, sweet in its taste (unless you chose cheese), and is a symbol of any classic white wedding. It often sits patiently in the corner of a wedding reception waiting for its moment in the spotlight. And boy oh boy does that moment come.
Quick, quick. Gather around, it’s time for one of the big wedding traditions to take place. Yeh, it’s time for you to learn how to cut a wedding cake!
You might be sitting there thinking, “Guys this is super easy I just cut the cake and then scoff it all” Well, to some degree, you’d be correct. However, there are some subtle nuances that will make your cake-cutting experience go off without a hitch and at the same time guarantee you awesome photos to match.
Have we mentioned that we have a history as wedding photographers? Over 1000 weddings are under our belt so yeah it’s fair to say we’ve seen our fair share of cake cuts over the years. We’ve seen unmitigated disasters such as cake all down the bride’s dress and all over her face (yes the groom was to blame) and we’ve also seen some epic cake cuts with military swords.
In this article, we’re going to cover absolutely everything. From answering why couples cut cakes at weddings to how the shape you choose might influence how you divide it up for your guests. We’ll then take you through our step-by-step guide on how to cut a wedding cake for the perfect experience for you, your guests, and your photographer.
So whip out your knife-sharpening gear, it’s time to get ready to cut some cake!
Why do couples cut the cake at a wedding?
Ermm it’s a bit gross if we’re being honest. But as you asked.
It used to be a tradition that the bride would cut the cake by herself to show that she’d lost her virginity. We did warn you!
Obviously, nowadays that’s a very outdated tradition. Instead, it could be viewed as the first thing two people do together as a married couple. The first task they undertake is a symbol of their commitment and shared responsibilities. When we put it like that it sounds like a pretty big deal, doesn’t it?
In our opinion, it’s just a fun little thing to do at the wedding. It gives people the opportunity to see and photograph the couple that might not have been at the ceremony. It’s also symbolic of getting the party started almost like cutting a ribbon to a new shop. The doors are open and now it’s time to hit the dancefloor with your best moves kind of vibe.
Not only that but there’s also dividing the cake up to hand out as a sweet treat for guests. This is usually handled by the venue staff rather than the couple themselves.
Step by Step: The cake-cutting process
Well, now that you know why the cake cut is a thing are you going to do it at your own wedding? We hope so as it adds a little bit of excitement to the night as you transition from the formal part of the day to the more relaxed evening.
1. Make an announcement
This can either be done by the DJ, the EmCee, the best man, the maid of honor, or anyone you want to entrust with this role. As long as they can be heard, that is the main thing. They should announce that the cake cut will take place in the next 5 minutes so everyone should have their cameras ready. They can then make a further announcement once the cake cut is seconds away.
2. Wait for everyone to gather
Everyone will start to gather around the cake table vying for position to capture the happy couple. Make sure to allow enough room for your wedding photographer as they’re likely to capture the event from the best angle.
3. Stand side by side holding the knife
The couple can either make an entrance together heading straight for the table or can already be there waiting. Couples usually stand side by side holding the knife or one behind the other.
4. Make the cut
“3, 2,1” the announcer should say, and then the couple slices into their wedding cake. They can leave it there with just the single cut or they can actually cut themselves a slice. It’s really up to the couple.
5. Pose for photos
Guests and the wedding photographer will be capturing the moment of the cake cut in real-time. However, they may also want a posed photo of the happy couple looking at the camera or sharing a kiss. Lots of people will want to photograph this so the couple just needs to be patient.
6. Taste the cake
You can taste the cake by yourself or feed the cake to your partner. You can even rub it into their face if you want. We’ve seen this quite a lot and we wouldn’t recommend it. Particularly as the first dance is next and there won’t be time to sort out hair and makeup!
7. Conclude the cake cut
Once all of the above is done it’s usually time to hit the dancefloor for the first dance. It doesn’t always happen in this order and we’ve seen some cake cuts take place mid-day. It’ll really be up to the couple and what works for their schedule. At this point, the cake will likely be carted off to be divided up behind closed doors. Once complete the slices will be brought back out for guests and the couple to either eat there and then or take home.
What to say when cutting a wedding cake
Much like a wedding with no speeches it’s not a requirement that you say anything before cutting the cake.
However, perhaps you want to give thanks to your friend who made the cake. Or you want to do a brief toast thanking your guests for their attendance at the evening part of the wedding.
Whatever you want to say make sure to clink your glass to signal for everyone to be quiet so they can hear you. Try to keep it short and sweet so that you and your guests can get on with enjoying the night ahead.
How to cut a wedding cake for guests
There are no limits when it comes to how creative you can get with a wedding cake design. With that being said there are two shapes that we’ve seen the most over our years in the industry.
Circular and rectangular cakes are the most popular options so let’s take a look at why that is and how that may affect the way you cut it.
No matter which cake shape you choose, the process is quite similar. You’ll essentially be looking to divide the cake up into neat and even pieces with minimal waste. If you want to tackle this job yourself, we have some useful tips below.
How to cut a round wedding cake
- First things first it’s best to remove any decorations from the cake as it’ll make the cutting process much easier.
- Secondly, if your cake is in tiers you should unstack them.
- Cut a circle into the middle of the cake. This is so that you can use the outer perimeter for cutting small slices.
- Now go around the perimeter cutting 1-inch slices.
- As you remove these slices you’ll be left with a round interior.
- Cut out 1-inch wedges from the interior.
- Hey presto, you should have lots of cake slices to serve to guests.
How to cut a rectangular cake
- A rectangular cake can be much easier to divide up than a circular one.
- Once again remove any decorations and unstack the cake.
- Decide on the portion size you’ll be providing to your guests.
- Work out whether there will be enough slices.
- We recommend aiming for a 2”x1” slice but it’ll also depend on how tall your cake is.
The perfect time at your reception to cut the cake
The perfect time for the cake cut will vary from couple to couple. We’ve seen some super early cake cuts, straight after the speeches, and also some really late ones just as the couple is leaving the venue.
In our opinion, the best time for the cake cut is just before the first dance. As we’ve already touched on, the cake cut is like the grand opening for the evening part of the wedding. It gathers all your guests in a fixed position where they can then easily transition into party mode.
We will often see the cake cut given a designated time on the schedule. Let’s say that time is 7:30 pm. However, we’ve never once seen a cake cut happen on time. We’re always there cameras at the ready and it is without fail always delayed.
Another popular option however is to cut the wedding cake immediately after you’ve finished the wedding breakfast. This is a particularly good time to do it especially if the wedding cake is acting as the dessert for your guests. This will mean your cake can be taken away, divided up, and brought back out for your guests to tuck into.
Where to cut your wedding cake
Location, location, location. It’s very true that where you position your cake can have an enormous impact on how your photos look.
Equally, it’s important to decide where on the cake you make those vital incisions. This can make or break the job of whoever you task to divide up your wedding cake for your guests.
Choosing the best location at your venue:
It may seem insignificant but it can be really important where you place your cake in your wedding venue.
Choosing somewhere that has a great backdrop compared to one filled with clutter for example will make for much better wedding photos. There are also some other considerations that we’ll list below
- Visibility: Make sure that you show off your cake in a place that is visible from all around the room. This way your guests can admire the craftsmanship and the location will be etched in their minds for later on in the evening.
- Lighting: Consider the lighting around your cake. This can play a big role in how your photos look when you cut the cake. Your photographer should be able to work their magic with off-camera flash but making sure it looks good to begin with is always best.
- Accessibility: It’s vital that you position your cake in a place where everyone can access it. Auntie Celia who’s in a wheelchair wants a photo of the happy couple cutting the cake just as much as your 8-year-old nephew. So make sure it’s accessible to everyone.
Where to make the cut
The position on the cake where you make the first cut together will largely depend on the type of cake you have chosen.
Lots of tall and multi-layered wedding cakes are actually made up of lots of faux layers. These are typically made out of foam and covered in icing. This can save on the cost of a wedding cake as well as prevent unnecessary waste. Of course, in this instance, you wouldn’t want to cut into the foam.
Equally, if you’ve got a multi-tiered wedding cake it might be best not to cut into it from the top. This could in some instances cause it to topple and that’s the last thing you want.
Do’s and Don’ts of cutting a wedding cake
- Ask the advice of your photographer and videographer before and during the wedding. They do this week in and week out and can advise you on what to do to get the best photos of the moment.
- Make sure you know the protocols of who will be cutting the cake and when they’ll be doing it.
- You can if you want to practice how you’ll hold the knife and make the cut in the cake. This can make the whole process a lot smoother when the moment arrives.
- Bring your own custom cake-cutting knife. This adds a personal touch and is something you can savor forever.
- Have someone announce the cake cut so that no one misses out.
- Hold the pose and cut the cake slowly. All of your guests will want to capture this momentous occasion.
- Make a nice clean cut or take a slice of cake and eat it there and then. We warn you though it could get messy.
- Don’t place the cake in a dark and dingy corner with clutter in the background. This will ruin the photos.
- Don’t rush it. Whilst it might be nerve-wracking having all eyes on you it’ll soon be over. Just the first dance to get through now!
- Don’t put too much pressure on the cake when cutting. You want to avoid the disaster of the cake toppling at all costs.
- Don’t wait until the end of the reception to cut the cake. This will put unnecessary pressure on the venue staff to divide it up very quickly. It will also mean that lots of guests will miss out on a tasty snack.
How much cake needs to be cut by the couple?
As we’ve mentioned throughout this article it’s no longer left to the couple to divide the cake up for guests. Unless you’re having a DIY wedding but even then it’s a bit much to expect the happy couple to do this whilst dressed in their finery.
Instead, this is a job that is usually passed on to the caterers, venue staff, or just a member of the bridal party.
When it comes to the actual cake cut the couple will slice very little. Maybe just enough to sample the cake and give their approval.
They may also want to cut a portion of cake that they can freeze to have on their 1 year wedding anniversary.
Dividing up your cake for guests
When cutting a wedding cake for guests it’s important to get this right. You’ll need to first consider how many people you’ve invited to your wedding, how big your cake is, and then how big of a portion size you can hand out so everyone gets a slice.
It will involve a little bit of math to work out the exact measurements. However, this little bit of pre-planning should ensure everyone at your wedding is supplied with a sweet dessert. They can either eat this there and then, or take it home with them to enjoy at a later date.
Once the cakes have been nicely divided you should think about having a designated area where guests can collect a slice. Equally, it might be something you want to have your DJ or EmCee announce so that everyone knows they’re welcome to a piece.
The cake cut is one of those traditions that shows no signs of wavering. Whilst we obviously agree that its beginnings are somewhat problematic it’s definitely a part of a wedding that lifts the mood and gets people excited.
For us and many in the industry, it signals the end of the formal part of the wedding. Slamming it firmly into the party mode gear with people ready to bust a move on the dancefloor.
Hopefully, by reading our guide you’re now in the no when it comes to how to cut a wedding cake. You’ll realize that the way you end up dividing your cake will largely come down to the shape, the practicalities, and how many guests you’ve invited.
At the same time, it should be a moment for you and your partner to savor. Remember to consult with your photographer. They can ensure you get the best photos and will also help you choose the best place so that everyone can see this happy moment.
So, there’s not much more left to say. Simply hold the knife together, cut your cake together, have a taste together, and then dance the night away!