A wedding reception is full of moments you and your partner do together for the first time as a married couple—that might mean balancing flatbread on your shoulders after a traditional Armenian ceremony, sawing a log of wood in the German tradition, or even dipping your pinkies into honey and sweetly feeding each other according to Persian wedding practices.
Another milestone moment you and your partner can do together is cut your wedding cake. When done right, this delicate gesture will be something you’ll remember for the rest of your lives. But as it turns out cutting a cake isn’t exactly, well... a piece of cake.
To prep for your big moment, use this guide to learn how to cut the wedding cake effortlessly.
You know how to cut a normal birthday or celebratory dessert cake, but cutting a wedding cake requires a bit more finesse, planning, and technique. Go through this simple five-step process to cut a tiered wedding cake with grace.
The cake cutting ceremony is often considered the last “official” event of the evening, but choosing when to cut the cake can help curate the rest of the evening's festivities, or even signal the end of the celebrations.
Here are a few times to consider cutting the cake:
Before Dinner: If you’re planning on entering the wedding reception with your new spouse and going straight into the dance, you can sweeten the moment by cutting the cake after your dance ends. This will give the wedding caterers plenty of time to serve dinner and have the cake cut and ready.
Right After Dinner: Cut your cake after your first meal together as a married couple. It’s a natural progression for the meal and can segue easily into the speech portion of the evening.
To Top off the Toasts: If you’re worried about toasts running long, have your cake brought out as the toasts are ending. This is also a great way to signal to your older guests that the official events of the evening have ended, and they can head home without missing a thing.
The Last Hour of the Reception: Is there a better late-night snack than cake? In fact, there is—wedding cake. Save your cake cutting for the last hour of the reception to signal that things are coming to a close on your big day or to give your guests a sugar rush for one last hour of dancing.
Slice your cake with a cake slicer and serve it with a cake server. Is there a difference? Definitely. A cake slicer is thinner, allowing for controlled smaller slices, while a cake server is wide enough to allow for a cake slice to lay on its side without falling.
Cake Tip: If you need an excuse to eat more cake (or at least cut more) practice cutting cakes with your partner. You’ll both feel extra confident in the gesture. Plus, more cake. Need we say more?
The secret to a proper cake-cutting stance is (ironically) a spin on spooning. Either you or your partner should stand closest to the cake, with the other standing behind. The “little spoon” will pick up the knife. The “big spoon” can place their hands on top of the little spoon’s hands so that you’re both holding the cake knife. From there, both spoons can help lift the knife and cut the cake.
Then you can each grab a fork and feed a bite of cake into each other’s mouths. It’s a full circle silverware metaphor.
Cake Tip: When it comes to cutting pressure, think Ouija Board. Keep your grip firm enough to hold the knife without dropping it, but guide it gently where you need it to go—that’s how everyone plays Ouija, right? If both you and your partner keep your grips firm and your movements soft, you’ll cut gracefully together in front of your wedding guests.
If you have a multi-tiered cake, it might be tempting to cut the first slice from the cute little layer at the top. For the sake of the cake, resist the temptation. Cutting the smallest and top-most layer invites potential cake disasters. You could collapse the top layer or even cut too hard and topple the entire cake over. That’s just basic cake physics.
Instead, cut your slice from the bottom tier. The wider base is sturdier and will taste just as delicious smooshed into your partner’s face. Plus, by starting at the bottom tier, you’ll be able to preserve the wedding cake from the top tier and enjoy it for days, or even weeks after.
A few cutting techniques will make the process of wedding cake cutting smooth and safe. Suitable for a variety of wedding cake sizes, choose from one of the methods below for maximum sweetness on your special day:
Wedge Method: Assume the spooning position mentioned above. Cut a small diagonal line into the cake. Cut another matching line to meet it. Gently lift out the cake with a serving knife onto a waiting cake plate nearby.
Box Method: Cut a small straight line into the cake’s base. Make another one parallel to it. Using the cake knife, connect the two parallel lines with a perpendicular one, (picture the number 11 wearing a hat), then use the knife to gently push the cake onto a plate from the last cut.
Cake Tip: Keep the slices small for the first cut. Remember, the cake cutting is just for show, you’ll get your real slices later—and those can be as big as you want.
You know how to make a perfect first cut and take that delicious bite. But there are a few more things to consider during the cake-cutting ceremony to make the memory even sweeter as a couple.
Decide How to Take Your Bites: To smash or not to smash? That is the question. Talk to your SO about whether you want to keep it simple or playful. If you’re worried they’ll pull a fast one on you, make them write, “I promise not to smash our wedding cake into your face” in the vows.
Time for the Cake to Shine: You’ve put a lot of time and thought into your wedding cake. Be sure to give your confection the attention it deserves.
Share the Story: If the flavor, bakery, or cake decorations have a special story or significance, take a moment to share it with your guests. Every bite will be even more meaningful.
Give it a Spotlight: Leave your cake on display for a while before cutting into it. Place it in a safe spot in the reception venue, so your guests can snap pics and admire the cake as it deserves to be admired.
Cake Tip: Yes, your cake should have a spotlight on your wedding day, but not a literal spotlight. The intense light will melt buttercream, making cake cutting difficult.
Seize the Photo Opportunity: If you want to capture every wonderful moment of your wedding day, don’t forget to be mindful of this amazing photo op.
Go Slow: Cut the cake slowly, so your photographer can get multiple angles and shots.
Pay Attention to the Background: Choose a place to cut the cake that will look great in photos. That can just be a simple solid background, or you can set up a backdrop with drapery, flowers, or twinkle lights.
Take a Sweet Memory Home: Saving the top layer of cake for your first wedding anniversary is a long-standing wedding cake tradition. Be sure to let your baker and caterers know that you will be practicing this tradition, so they can package up the top layer in a to-go box (and keep it safe from your hungry guests).
When you get home, wrap the cake in many layers of plastic wrap, place it back in its to-go box, then wrap the whole thing up in even more plastic. On your first anniversary, pull the cake out of the freezer to reminisce about your wonderful day.
Cake Tip: Give your guests the option to bring a slice of your wedding day home by providing to-go boxes near the cake serving area. If your guests are still stuffed from dinner, they can enjoy cake for post-wedding breakfast.
Cutting the cake together with your life partner holds a lot of meaning—it signifies the many things you will do together as a team for the years to come and the sweetness you will give to each other's lives. Bring every ounce of love and care into cutting your wedding cake, and you can turn a simple gesture into a moment you’ll cherish forever.
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