The wedding cake is an age old ritual that dates back as far back as medieval times in Britain. Back then the wedding cake would have been made very simply of wheat and not cut and eaten, but actually thrown at the bride as a symbol of fertility! When Queen Victoria and Prince Albert married in 1840, the tall, tiered white wedding cake began its reign and the tradition of the cutting of the cake, a symbol of the bride and groom’s new union, began. Here is everything you ever wanted to know about wedding cake etiquette, from where to present it to when to cut it and how to serve it.
How to present your wedding cake
The wedding cake is usually presented on a special table, set to one side of the reception room, decorated with ribbons, flowers and foliage. The cake often sits upon a specially raised cake stand to ensure it stands out. It is then cut with a special silver-plated or even engraved cake knife that can be kept by the bride and groom after the wedding. The wedding cake itself may be adorned by cake decorations and/or a very special cake topper. The cutting of the cake is a tradition, a special moment for all your guests to witness and a perfect photo opportunity.
Cake topper and many other designs available in the Confetti Shop
When to cut the wedding cake
The cutting of the cake is often the last formal moment of the whole day. Usually the champagne flows for the toasts after each of the speeches and then the toastmaster or best man will announce the cutting of the cake. The bride and groom make the first cut, holding the knife together, posing for photos. However, there are no strict rules to this! You may cut your cake as soon as all the guests have assembled at the reception venue and before the speeches, or after the meal is served (so the cake can be then served as a dessert).
After the bride and groom have performed the cutting of the cake, to great applause, the cake is then taken away to be sliced before being offered to each guest, either as dessert accompanied by cream or ice cream or with coffees after dessert.
Calla lily cake serving set and other designs available in the Confetti Shop
Wedding cake boxes and bags
Slices of wedding cake can be offered in pretty or personalised paper bags to guests who would prefer to take theirs home. Slices of wedding cake can also be sent in postage boxes to guests who were unable to attend the wedding.
The top layer of a fruit cake is traditionally kept for the christening of the first baby. The lowest tier is generally the one fed to guests while the middle tiers may also be kept for the first anniversary, as a happy reminder of the wedding day.
Whatever kind of wedding cake you choose to have on your wedding day, your cake maker, caterers and banqueting manager are also there to advise you on when, where and how you perform the cutting of your wedding cake and all that follows. Wedding cake etiquette simply gives you some ideas for how you could (or arguably should do it) but they are not hard and fast rules so do what feels right, just don’t let anyone throw it at you!
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Kate Thompson is Confetti's features editor and wedding expert, and has worked in the wedding industry for 15 years. A widely published lifestyle writer, she has made BBC television and radio appearances discussing wedding trends in the UK.