5 Delicious Pieces of Wedding Cake Etiquette

Everything you need to know about the sweetest part of your big day

Updated 08/13/17

Julián Ángel

Planning for the wedding cake is one of the most enjoyable parts of planning a wedding. What’s not to love about a cake tasting? And if you’re like many brides, cake may be the only thing you end up eating at your reception. That bite you share after you cut the cake also serves another purpose: The sweetness is meant to represent sweet wishes for your future together. But getting to that point? Well, that’s where the questions come in. We turned to our experts for their answers to some of the most-asked wedding cake questions.

When Should We Cut the Cake?

Traditionally, the cake is cut toward the end of dinner, so slices can be passed and served as dessert. Most guests will then head to the dance floor for the party, but it also serves as a signal that the formalities are over and guests are welcome to leave whenever they choose. Of course, there’s no rule to say when you’ve got to cut into your cake, so feel free to get creative. Some couples opt to do so quietly during dinner, while others make their grand entrance, cut the cake, and then take to the dance floor for their first dance (giving the catering staff lots of time to slice and plate while guests are enjoying their dinner).

What’s the Best Way to Cut it?

The box or wedge methods are definitely the most popular. Stand with the bride closest to the cake, with the groom behind her. With both of your hands on the knife, cut an inch into the cake and slice down. Then make a triangle for a wedge, or go clean with the box method: Make a parallel cut an inch over, then insert the knife vertically at the back of your two cuts and push the slice out onto the plate. While the serving spatula is pretty, it’s much bigger than this slice should be and will just make a mess, so save it for serving cakes and pies at home!

What Do We Do with the Rest of It?

After you and your partner have shared your first bite, your caterer will remove the cake to the kitchen, where they will slice and plate the cake before serving it to your guests. It’s up to you whether you’d like to serve the cake simply, or want to add a garnish like some fruit, ice cream, or a sauce. Talk to your baker beforehand to determine any toppings that might work well with the flavors you’ve chosen.

How Can We Save the Top Tier?

If you want to save the top tier of your cake, tell your baker and caterer in advance. Your baker will be able to provide a box to help you safely transport the top tier at the end of your wedding night. The next day, it’s time to get that baby into the freezer. Wrap the cake tightly in multiple layers of plastic wrap, then either tuck it back into the box and wrap the whole thing in more plastic wrap (if it’s a snug fit) or wrap the cake in a few layers of foil to help keep out freezer smells and fend of freezer burn.

When your anniversary rolls around, allow the cake to defrost in the fridge for a day, then take it out a few hours before you plan to serve to let it come to room temperature.

Do We Have to Serve Cake at All?

Nope! If cake isn’t your speed, couples are serving just about any dessert you could imagine at their weddings these days. From a cookie spread or your favorite pies to doughnuts, Pavlova, or a sundae bar, serve your guests whatever sweets speak to you!

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