When do we cut the cake? Oddly enough I get asked this question time and time again. Actually even as a full-time florist, I would get asked about the timing of that very traditional act. Cutting a cake…sounds simple enough…….but alas it appears not to be so!
Time honored tradition dictates that the wedding “cake cutting ceremony” is to commence immediately following the meal. I would assume………but I’m not positive so don’t hold me to it……….that this tradition was practiced due to the fact that in the past, the food served at a reception was on the very light side. If you investigate weddings of the past, you will find that the reception often consisted of light hors dourves, or a very light meal, that was capped off with a piece of wedding cake. Back then, the act of cutting the cake also signified that the event was wrapping up, and guests could choose to leave at that point.
Today, reception meals are often anything but light. They often consist of either a full sit down and served affair, or the very popular buffet. Unless the wedding takes place in the morning hours which then a bride can choose to just serve a light brunch, or maybe just a piece of cake. However most receptions consist of eating a rather heavy meal following an hour-long cocktail hour.
Ok…………..your guests are full to the brim. They have spent an hour drinking and helping themselves to a variety of hors dourves, and now it is time to welcome the bride and groom, and sit down for even more food! Now cake? Really? NO. You are not obligated to cut and serve your cake immediately following the meal any longer!!! So what can/should you do?
As a guest, and a wedding coordinator, I prefer to see the bride and groom cut the cake after the bride/groom dance, and the other traditional family dances for about an hour. Unless you are getting married very late in the evening, and your worried about some of your older guests driving to their destination, give everyone a chance to recover from their meal. An hour’s break from eating is a nice and welcomed respite before a piece of rich cake comes their way. Most weddings that start around 4pm usually have guests finishing their bigger meal by 7-7:30 max. Serving the cake an hour later, will still allows guests that need or want to leave early, to do so. IF your guest list consists of a much older crowd, then you still may want to cut the cake immediately following your meal….especially for evening weddings.
Having a break to do your bride and groom dance, and your family dances is not a difficult thing to do, as long as you’ve communicated with your coordinator, and DJ, who often announces each event of the reception. By informing your guests that these particular dances will be for the bride, groom, and family members only, then you avoid having guests dispersing all over the place, and having to call them back to the cake cutting ceremony. It is perfectly acceptable to ask your guests to remain seated during the family dances as the cake cutting ceremony will follow shortly after. As always immediately after the cutting and serving of the cake, some of your guests will decide to leave. That’s ok!
AND…..budge conscience brides listen up! The cake cutting ceremony can also serve as the cut off time for which you have hired your “day of” coordinator. Normally, not always, the rest of the evening is filled with all guests dancing and partying the night away. The very last ceremony signaling the end of the afternoon or evening’s festivities is the bouquet and garter toss…if you choose to do so. You may or may not need your coordinator there for that……often brides choose not to…but it is a personal decision. If a bride is renting linens that I am responsible for, then I prefer to stay to the end to make sure they are gathered and returned in good order unless the venue assures me that they will have them ready for me in a separate container the very next morning.
So………..think about how you would like the flow of your reception to go. Think about the time of day, how large the meal is, and the overall demographic of your guests. By spreading out the meal and dessert a bit, your guests will enjoy the rest of the evening avoiding that bottle of tums! They will thank you for it too! 😉