How to Cut a Wedding Cake

Updated March 8, 2018
cutting a wedding cake
Enjoy the first slice of married life.

Knowing how to cut a wedding cake is a time-honored tradition for the bride and groom to share as they demonstrate their commitment to support one another. It's also important that those serving the cake know how to cut the cakes properly to ensure there is enough cake for all the guests.

How to Cut a Wedding Cake for Serving

Knowing how to cut a tiered cake with dowels to serve to the guests makes the difference between running out and having plenty for all invited. Many caterers and reception halls charge cake cutting fees that could be up to $1 per slice, and if there are 300 guests at the reception, those fees can quickly add up.

Round Cake Cutting Using Ring Method

Round cakes are divided into concentric rings two inches deep, and each successive ring is cut into slices. This is good for large round cake tiers. If you can't make a perfect circle freehand like the video demonstrates, lightly trace around the cake board from the tier above before removing.

Cut a Round Cake Into Rectangular Slices

Another method for cutting round cakes is to cut them into small square or rectangular slices. This produces a neat and uniform look for all slices.

Square Wedding Cake Cutting Guide

Square wedding cakes are often first divided into rectangles two inches wide so they can be sliced; however, that's not always done. It's good to mark off the sides at even intervals to make sure you get similarily-sized portions.

square cake slicing pattern


In general, a slice of wedding cake is one inch wide by two inches deep: this is the serving size bakers anticipate when recommending cakes for large events. A couple may choose more generous portions, but they should be careful of exorbitant wedding cake prices for larger confections. Other tips include:

  • Tiers should be unstacked, and the largest tiers are generally cut first. Because an elegant, gorgeous wedding cake can be reduced to crumbs as it is sliced, this process usually takes place out of sight of the guests.
  • Make sure you pull the dowels out of the cake before slicing.
  • To cut the cake for serving, it should first be divided into appropriate sections that yield properly sized slices.
  • To make smooth slices, the knife should be wiped clean between each cut, and small dessert plates are used to serve the cake.
    Dividing a cake into serving sizes

Newlywed Cake Cutting Ceremony Etiquette

The cake cutting ceremony is a highly anticipated part of the wedding reception. It is a nostalgic moment that symbolizes the first time the newlywed couple breaks bread as husband and wife, and it also demonstrates their pledge to support and nourish one another. How the cake is cut, however, can be a tricky task. Just as every wedding cake is unique, every first cut will also be different.

When to Cut the Wedding Cake at the Reception

Depending on the type of wedding reception, the cake cutting may take place either early or late in the festivities. If the reception is a simple affair with hors d'oeuvres and finger food, the couple should cut the cake soon after they've greeted their guests so the cake is available as part of the menu. If the reception includes a full meal, however, the cake will not be cut until after the meal has been served and the couple has already enjoyed their first dance. To signal the cake cutting, the DJ may announce the cutting of the wedding cake or reprise the first dance music while encouraging guests to gather near the cake for photos.


These tips will ensure success:

  • Listen to the photographer: The cake cutting is a highly photogenic moment and the photographer will ask the couple to cut a particular layer of the cake that will work best for photos. Elaborate cake table decorations may make the bottom layer an impractical choice, while the top layer may be too high for a first cut.
  • Pause: Friends and family members will want snapshots of the ceremonial first cut, and gracious couples will take their time to allow plenty of pictures.
  • Work together: The groom's hand should be over the bride's as the first slice of cake is cut to show how they will work together in their marriage. Depending on the type of icing, the couple may need to use more than one hand to smoothly cut the cake.
  • Use a serving set: A decorative cake serving set has both a knife and a server that are lovely utensils for this important event. If the couple does not have a set, they may borrow one from the baker or caterer. For a military or Renaissance wedding, a sword may be used instead of a knife.
  • Feed each other first: Gently feeding one another the symbolic first bite of cake is a lovely tradition that symbolizes the nurturing relationship the new husband and wife share.
  • Offer slices to in-laws: For a longer cake cutting ceremony or a more formal occasion, the couple may choose to cut additional slices of cake to offer to their respective in-laws. This shows the connection between the two families and is a delicious way to show respect to one another's families.
    Slicing a cake


Skip the following practicies to keep things elegant and running smoothly:

  • Smash cake: Resist the urge to make a mockery of this ceremony by smashing cake into one another's faces. This can ruin carefully applied makeup, rented tuxedos, and expensive wedding gowns, not to mention destroy the respect the cake cutting ceremony is supposed to demonstrate.
  • Use your fingers: A delicate dessert fork is the appropriate utensil for feeding one another cake and eliminates the temptation to smash the dessert.
  • Cut the top tier: Not only may the top tier be too unstable for a good first cut, but many couples choose to save the top tier of their wedding cake for their first anniversary. Some cakes, however, can have the top tier cut without a problem: ask the caterer and photographer for recommendations.

Cake Cutting Tradition

Cutting the wedding cake is a popular wedding reception tradition. By knowing how to cut the cake properly, the moments of that first slice can be preserved with beautiful pictures and memories to last for a long marriage as sweet as that first married bite.

How to Cut a Wedding Cake