Cupcakes were the first deviation from the norm, but then the trend expanded to include fantastic dessert buffets, candy displays, and make-your-own-sundae bars. My clients have also requested extensive cheesecake displays, and for one Thanksgiving weekend wedding, we had a "Pie-Stravaganza." There are absolutely no rules as long as you can afford whatever you have selected.
With that said, many couples want to serve an alternative to wedding cake, but don't want to give up the tradition of formally cutting the cake—and sometimes smashing each other with it—in front of their guests while the photographer snaps away. The solution: a cutting cake.
What is a "cutting cake?" It's a very small cake created for the sole purpose of giving the bride and groom the opportunity to participate in a tradition without spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on something they don't actually want to serve for dessert.
Let me be clear—you do not have to have a cutting cake if that tradition isn't important to you. You can feed each other bites of something on the dessert bar, or share a cupcake for the cameras. Or you can skip the moment altogether and just keep dancing when they announce dessert has been served for those who would like a sweet treat.
A cutting cake isn't meant to be served to the guests. In fact, the little cake is whisked away to the kitchen as soon as the bride and groom finish the cutting tradition. Usually, it's wrapped up and put in the fridge so the bride and groom can enjoy it late-night, or the next day. It's never cut and served because it couldn't possibly feed all of the guests. It wasn't made to feed 100 people—it's only big enough to look cute and support whatever cake topper or decoration the couple has chosen.
Occasionally, a wedding guest will chase the cake into the kitchen, demanding to have a piece. Unless it's been planned in advance, we'll politely decline their request. It would be very impolite to serve cake to one or two guests, but not the entire group. People will see that some people have wedding cake and know they were not given a piece themselves, leading them to wonder why they aren't as "special" as the guest who got a real piece of wedding cake.
Head off any potential cake conflicts by telling your immediate family and wedding party the game plan for dessert. Letting them know the cutting cake will not be served sets expectations ahead of time. Count on your mothers, for example, to tell the more aggressive guests that no, the cake isn't going to be served. But there are some fantastic dessert selections out there for them to try.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.