So, When Should You Cut the Wedding Cake?

Choosing the right time for this v exciting moment is key.
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Elizabeth Ayoola
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Elizabeth Ayoola
The Knot Contributor
  • Elizabeth contributes a range of lifestyle content to The Knot.
  • She also works as a full-time writer at NerdWallet and contributing writer at ESSENCE and POPSUGAR.
  • Elizabeth has a degree in Environment, Politics, and Globalization from King's College London.
Updated Jul 21, 2023

There are many moving parts of a wedding and some you will remember more than others. A universal part of every wedding that makes a feature in many photo albums is cutting the cake. Whether the cake is a 6-foot tall work of art or a simple layer cake, it's one of the first joint ventures newly married couples take on.

If you're planning a wedding you may be trying to figure out when to include the cake cutting into your wedding day schedule. This begets the question, "when do you cut the cake at a wedding?" should you do it right after the ceremony or towards the end of the reception? While there are standard times, it all depends on your preference. Here is what Ophelia Childress, an event planner and owner of What's The Occasion based in Nashville has to say about cake cutting and when to do it.

In this article:

When to Cut the Cake at a Wedding

You may choose to have the cake cutting ceremony before or after dinner depending on your schedule for the day and preference. Childress says she recommends her clients cut the cake after dinner unless they have cultural or religious reasons to do otherwise.

"I am specific about placing in the timeline I create for my couples to have space after dinner and to allow time for all guests to enjoy dinner, mix and mingle a bit before the dance party starts," Childress explains. "For example, if dinner is being served at 6 p.m., depending on the guest count of the wedding I build in 90 minutes for dinner, allow my DJ to queue up some songs so guests can start to dance a bit and then at 7:45 p.m. I am queuing the DJ to make the announcement for cake cutting."

Seeing as some people see the cake cutting as a signal that the party is over, you could do it before dinner and hand out the cake after guests eat. This would require your catering team to cut the cake while people eat and have it ready to distribute once they're done as a form of dessert.

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As a budget-friendly alternative, some couples also choose to distribute a separate undecorated sheet cake to guests and keep the original for themselves.

How Long After Dinner Do You Cut the Wedding Cake?

Childress advises guests to wait 1.5 hours after serving dinner to cut the wedding cake. This gives guests enough time to eat and socialize before bringing the attention back to the newly married couple. The wedding cake cutting also tends to happen before the last dancing set begins and can sometimes be the final event that takes place before the wedding comes to an end.

Do You Cut the Wedding Cake Before or After Toasts?

Cutting the cake before the toast may seem like a good idea, but it could give guests the impression that the wedding is coming to an end. That's because cake cutting is usually the last major event of the day that happens. To avoid people packing up and leaving during the toast, which should be an intimate moment, consider doing it before you cut the cake.

"[The] toast should be given during dinner and before cutting the cake when most of your guests are still there and everyone is still seated. It's the best time to gain the attention of everyone," Childress says.

This isn't to say you want people to miss the cake cutting, but decide which holds more weight for you. In the best case scenario people will stay for both events and leave when their feet are tired from dancing.

How to Announce It's Time to Cut the Wedding Cake

When it's time to cut the wedding cake, you can have the emcee make the announcement so guests are aware. You may also attach a time frame to it to set expectations and give guests time to get seated and settle down.

For instance, the emcee could say, "the couple plans to cut the cake in the next ten minutes by the stage." You may also get the DJ to play a few wedding songs to set the scene before the cake cutting begins and then play your favorite cake cutting songs once the couple is ready to do the honors.

Who Cuts the Wedding Cake?

Both marriers cut the wedding cake, but there is traditional wedding cake etiquette the couple can follow if applicable, says Childress.

"If there is a bride and a groom, I direct the groom to begin cutting the bottom layer of the cake and then [the] bride places her hand on top of the groom's hand as the groom cuts the cake," she explains.

The saying goes that this ritual signifies the groom's commitment to taking care of the bride and her future. Yes, we know, it's a pretty dated sentiment. Of course, if this doesn't work for you and your spouse, you can cut the cake together, or switch whose hands are on top halfway through.

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