How To Cut A Wedding Cake

Heed our wedding cake cutting advice and look like a pâtisserie professional on your big day!

Cutting a wedding cake may seem like a fairly simple task. We’ve all cut some cake at least once in our lives, and normally, it’s an event that needs no further comment.

So why would a wedding cake be any different? Why is that cake cutting moment such a… moment?

Well, this time-honored tradition is steeped in history, and as silly an act as it may seem, the meaning behind it is actually quite sweet. 

Today we’re going to explore how to cut a wedding cake, while also learning a little about the ceremony, and how it came about.

How To Cut A Wedding Cake

The History: Why Do We Cut Wedding Cake?

The origins of the wedding cake cutting ceremony date back to ancient Rome!

But back then, Roman couples weren’t splitting cupcakes or taking a freshly sharpened cake knife to a 12-inch sponge piled high with fresh fruits and nuts. No, their marriage ceremonies tended to end on a more savory note.

As a symbol of luck and fertility, brides in Roman times would have scone-like wheat or barley cake broken over their heads. The couple would then eat a few cake crumbs together as one of their first unified acts of marriage

Fast-forward to Medieval times, and the wheat wedding cake had been given an upgrade by the Brits.

Gone was the boring ol’ barley, and in came spiced buns, scones, and cookies ceremoniously piled on top of one another. If the couple wanted good fortune in their marriage, they needed to kiss over the top of the buns or cookies, without toppling them over!

It wasn’t until the late 18th century that tiered wedding cakes started to pop up in London. If you believe the word on the street, their existence was born out of a young bakers’ love for his boss’s daughter.

As a flamboyant show of affection during his proposal to her, the apprentice had baked three separate wedding cakes of varying sizes and stacked them on top of each other. Who knows if his beautiful wedding cakes stole her heart, but nevertheless, a tradition was born!

What Is a “Cutting Cake?”

In the midst of wedding planning, the term ‘cutting cake’ may have popped up. It can seem a bit mysterious to some couples, but in reality, it’s a modern tradition that totally makes sense.

A cutting cake is a small cake created solely to be used for the reception ceremony. It is not made to be eaten by the guests, and normally the married couple doesn’t eat it either. Well, they may taste a bit if they choose to shove it in each other’s faces post-cutting.

Usually, the cutting cake consists of a fairly basic sponge topped with buttercream. It is the ideal choice if you don’t actually want giant layers of cake and would rather have some delectable dessert selections instead. Or if you’d rather allocate your wedding budget elsewhere. 

Cake Cutting Ceremony Checklist

Make Sure You Have the Right Tools!

Your wedding planner or venue will have made sure that you have the correct equipment on hand to slice through those tiered cakes correctly. But it’s useful to know beforehand exactly what should be waiting for you on the cake table.

We’ve listed the items below, so you can quickly tick them off in your mind on the big day. 

  • Cake knife
  • Cake server
  • Two forks
  • Two napkins
  • Two plates

As we say, all of this stuff should be in order before you even get near the table. But to be certain, ask your coordinator to arrange these items for you ahead of time. That way, you’ll avoid the last-minute search for knives and napkins. 

Create Perfect Portions

No two wedding cakes are the same, and each one has different dimensions and styles.

To know exactly how best to cut your wedding cake, you should certainly speak to your baker or cake vendor before the big day, and ask for their advice.

Especially if you do not have a circle or square wedding cake design. Heart tiers and layers of petals, for example, can be more tricky. 

Round wedding cakes tend to be the most popular choice, and with a little thought, they can be cut up just as easily as a rectangular cake.

If you’re imagining your wedding guests all receiving wildly different size cake slices, maybe buy a cake from the supermarket, and take a couple of practice shots before your nuptials.

For us, the easiest way to cut a circle-shaped wedding cake is to imagine it’s a pizza. Create triangles in the cake by making vertical slices in, towards its center.

Then, once that vertical slice is made, turn the entire cake slightly in either direction and make another cut, roughly one to two inches apart. Continue until the base is divided up. 

Square-tiered cakes are another popular choice, and these are (in theory), also easy to cut. Plus, they are perfect for larger servings, and easy to dish out to event-sized crowds.

To cut a square cake evenly, go in two inches from the outside edge, and cut a straight line through the sponge. Then slice that row into even 1-inch pieces of cake.

Repeat the process by moving over two inches and slicing through the entire tier again. Do this on every cake tier, and you’ll be blessed with generous servings for all of your loved ones. 

If you intend to keep the top tier of wedding cake for your anniversary, be sure to not forget in all the excitement of the cutting ceremony! Start with the first layer, and avoid any accidents up top. 

Give Your Wedding Cake Its “Moment”

The last thing you want on your wedding day, is to have practiced cutting your cake, spent a fortune on it, and nobody notices you’re cutting the darn thing!

Speak to the Emcee ahead of time, and give them a heads-up that you’d like a little intro for your special moment. That’ll ensure all eyes are on you both.

Now you just have to make sure that the cake is in an accessible spot, with a nice backdrop and easy access for your photographer. 

When cutting the cake, whoever is the shorter of the two of you should be in front, so that your guests and the photographer can see you both properly. One of you should hold the knife, and the other gently place their hand on top to guide it.

If you’re planning on throwing the cake at each other at the end of the cutting ceremony, let your partner know! That kind of surprise is very rarely appreciated…

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