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When Should You Cut Your Wedding Cake?

Your guests will be looking forward to dessert. Find out when to serve yours.

Contributing Writer
afton travers wedding cakecutting
Photography by: Kayla Barker

No wedding is complete without a delectable dessert, whether it's a multi-tiered chocolate cake with buttercream frosting or a staggering tower of glazed donuts. Many guests look forward to the sweet treat all evening, and the symbolic cake cutting provides ample opportunity for cute photographs. But what time should you actually cut and serve the cake at your wedding reception? We've outlined down the timeline options.

 

Related: Wedding Checklists & Timeline

 

Stick to Tradition

Traditionally, the bride and groom serve wedding cake in between dinner and dancing, often following the couple's first dance. This is mainly because cake cutting serves as a silent clue that guests can start heading home, especially if they aren't planning to stay for the after-party. Serving cake before the dancing begins is also convenient because guests won't have to leave the dance floor to watch you slice into the dessert.

 

Work with Your Schedule

Of course, a couple can adjust the traditional schedule to conform to their reception plans. If you'd like to have your first dance before dinner, for example, you may want to serve cake immediately after the meal is cleared. Similarly, if the newlyweds don't want a traditional cake cutting ceremony, they can simply display the cake on a buffet table and encourage guests to grab dessert whenever they please. 

 

The Earlier, the Better

When deciding on a dessert timeline, remember that earlier is almost always the best option. First, guests who need to leave the reception early—like elderly relatives or those with very young kids—won't be anxiously checking the clock. Second, if you're paying your photographer by the hour, they can capture this photo op and still leave the reception early. Last, cutting and plating the sweet confection takes time, so you'll want to give the catering staff enough time to feed everyone without rushing. Bonus: If you're having an after-party or serving late-night snacks, serving dessert early ensures guests will be hungry again later.