The wedding cake is undoubtedly one of the most ubiquitous and symbolic elements of any wedding ceremony.
The tradition dates back to the classic Roman era when breaking bread over the bride’s head was a vital fixture of every wedding.
Although times have changed and customs have evolved, the ceremonial cutting of the cake is still a popular and meaningful event at every wedding reception. For instance, in addition to symbolizing the couple’s first task together, it also makes for great photo opportunities.
This article will tell you more about this tradition’s history and teach you how to cut the cake right at your wedding reception.
A History of Cutting the Wedding Cake
The history of cake cutting at weddings as it’s practiced today can be traced back to the Victorian era.
It was customary for the bride to cut the wedding cake into pieces and distribute them to the guests as a symbol of her fertility. However, as wedding guest lists grew, the tradition of cutting the cake was modified to include the groom as a helper to the bride.
In modern weddings, one partner places their hand over the other when cutting the cake to represent their commitment to supporting each other in their union.
When Should You Cut the Cake at a Wedding Reception?
The cake cutting mainly takes place after dinner and before the parent dance. It cues guests that the reception is drawing to a close, and they are free to leave if they wish.
Sometimes, couples choose to have their couple-centered activities, such as tossing the bouquet and cutting the cake, happen back to back. This gives caterers more time to cut, plate, and serve the guests.
Nevertheless, there are no hard and fast rules regarding the right time to cut the cake. As such, feel free to customize your reception program and decide with your partner what time feels suitable for cutting the cake.
As a general tip, you should consider scheduling the cake-cutting ceremony earlier in the reception so that guests with young children or elderly family members can leave early if they wish.
Likewise, suppose you’ve hired a wedding photographer whose prices increase with extra hours of coverage beyond the initially agreed baseline. In that case, you might save money if you slot in cake cutting earlier.
The Right Way to Cut a Wedding Cake
No matter how great you think you are at cutting the cake, you must consult your caterer for instructions before cutting your wedding cake.
The last thing you want to happen is to make a wrong move and have your delicate cake topple over. So, here is a general guide on how to cut a wedding cake the right way.
- Choose a knife from your wedding cake set for your first slice. If you do not have one, you can ask your caterers for a large professional-grade knife to use for the activity.
- Position yourself and your spouse such that one of you is standing near the cake holding the knife while the other stands behind, placing their hand on top.
- Cut the knife into the cake’s bottom tier up to an inch. It would be best if you were careful not to make a sawing motion when cutting the cake, as this can cause it to crumble. Cutting the cake from the bottom tier provides greater stability for the higher tiers, but you can also save the top tiers for later consumption.
- Make another cut parallel to the one you initially made for a square-shaped slice about one or two inches over. On the other hand, create two diagonal cuts into the cake if you want to get a wedge-shaped slice. While the size of the pieces is all up to you, it is recommended to try cutting slices that are enough for two bites of cake for you and your partner.
- After cutting the first piece of cake, slide your server under it and put it on a plate.
As a symbol of their commitment to one another, newlyweds usually feed each other their first slice of cake after cutting it. However, at some weddings, this activity is generally replaced by smearing the cake on each other’s faces.
Whatever method you choose to feed your spouse the cake is up to you. However, it is essential to have this conversation before the wedding to agree on handling this part so you both know what to expect.
Serving the Wedding Cake to the Guests
Once you do the symbolic cake cutting, the caterers will return it to the kitchen so it can be sliced up for your guests. If you wish to save the top tier of the cake for yourselves, inform your caterers in advance.
In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for newlywed couples to offer their guests pieces of cake to carry home with them or send pieces to important guests who couldn’t attend.
Although the practice is not widespread today, offering boxed slices of cake for your guests to take home is still a nice gesture worth considering.
So, if you are planning a wedding, we hope these tips will help ensure the cake-cutting session goes smoothly.
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