This Is the Best Time to Cut Your Wedding Cake at the Reception

Good timing will maximize the fun of your first slice.
by Maggie Seaver
wedding cake cutting
Larissa Cleveland Photography

While some old-school wedding traditions have started to lose their luster (lookin’ at you, dollar dance), cutting the wedding cake continues to be a fun, special and worthwhile reception event for the majority of couples—89 percent of couples married in 2016, in fact. It’s easy to decide if you're into this tradition, but figuring out where to fit it into your reception timeline might take a bit more thought (but don’t overthink it—this is supposed to be fun!).

Tradition suggests couples cut the cake in the last hour of the reception, which makes total sense, since that’s when everyone’s long finished with dinner and craving coffee and dessert. Also, conventionally, this final-hour event signifies the okay for sleepy guests to start leaving. But when you decide to cut the cake will depend on how much you both care about it. You might want all eyes on you and dozens of photos to choose from—or you might prefer to share the sweet, symbolic moment without an audience.

For a memorable cake-cutting experience, your best bet is to schedule the slice for when you know you already have everyone’s attention. Anytime you have to recapture guests’ eyes and ears—like interrupting their meals yet again or stopping the music when the dance floor is heating up—you’ll create some unnecessary dissonance in the flow of the party. Doing it in one of these three windows will ensure your guests are seated (and focused), cameras are out and hearts are extra full.

1. After Your First Dance

If you’re going straight from your reception entrance into the first dance before appetizers arrive on the tables, why not ride that momentum and cut the cake right after? And the sooner this happens, the more leeway your cake baker or catering staff has to cut pieces for the crowd.

2. After the Maid of Honor and Best Man Toasts

These speeches typically happen during dinner, between courses. After the latter of the two (wait until they’re both finished so you don’t steal their thunder), you’ll have everyone’s attention and an opportunity to slice the cake while guests are still recovering from those heartfelt speeches.


3. After the Very Last Speech

This one’s similar to the above idea, but will be a little bit later in the meal, probably closer to dinner’s end. The last speech may even be you two saying a few words to thank guests for coming, which is the perfect way to segway into your cake cutting and ensure all eyes are on you.


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