A Baker Shares How to Cut a Wedding Cake

It *can* be done gracefully.
Heather Bien - The Knot Contributor.
Heather Bien
Heather Bien - The Knot Contributor.
Heather Bien
The Knot Contributor
  • Heather contributes wedding, honeymoon, travel and relationship content for The Knot and WeddingWire.
  • Heather also writes for publications including Apartment Therapy, StyleBlueprint, MyDomaine, HelloGiggles and The Everygirl.
  • She holds a degree in Art History and Architectural History from the University of Virginia.
Updated Apr 17, 2024

Cutting the cake is one of the most beloved wedding traditions. Everyone gathers 'round the happy couple, waiting with bated breath to see if they'll delicately serve each other a bite…or if they'll go all in on the cake smash.

But whether the couple will know how to cut a wedding cake in one fell swoop is where the guests should actually place their bets. Wedding cakes aren't your ordinary 'cut it with a cake knife and call it a day' situation. There are seemingly endless wedding cake shape possibilities and numbers of tiers, and each one requires a different approach. You can have that four-tier, petal-shaped cake you're dreaming of (find the talented baker to make it on The Knot Vendor Marketplace!), but cutting it is going to be a test of both your geometry and knife skills.

Luckily, the people behind the cakes—the bakers—know a thing or two about the right way to cut a wedding cake, and they're willing to share their knowledge. Here's the official how to cut a wedding cake guide, according to bakers.

And, if things get really desperate, bypass this whole guide and, instead, just filter on The Knot Vendor Marketplace by "Cake Cutting & Serving" after filtering by location.

How to Cut a Wedding Cake: Step-by-Step

Cutting the wedding cake is one of the first official activities you tackle together as a married couple. And it sounds so simple! Cut a cake? You can do that, right? Then, as your charming cake cutting song begins to play, you arrive in front of the cake and stare down the tiers. How are you supposed to get from that tiny top tier all the way to the bottom?!

Take a deep breath. This is how.

1. Choose a Solid Location

You'll be less stressed if you have the right spot to cut the cake. Pick somewhere where you both have room to stand comfortably. Make sure it's a solid surface. And keep it out of direct sunlight — the last thing you want is a cake where the tiers pull a slip and slide as soon as you touch it.

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2. Take a Slice Out of the Bottom for the Ceremony

The magic of a wedding is that you don't have to cut the whole cake for your cake cutting ceremony. One dainty slice will do. Jenny Williamson, Owner of Jenny's Wedding Cakes in Boston, Massachusetts, explains, "If the couple is having a ceremonial cutting of the cake, they will stand behind the cake and both hold the knife. They'll slice it together by taking a small slice out of the largest tier, which is usually the bottom tier."

"Then it magically gets whisked away to the kitchen by the caterers," adds Williamson. This is when the tiers are removed and the actual cutting begins. However, if you or a guest of honor is doing the cutting, this is when it's time to get serious.

3. Use the Right Knife

While there are beautiful keepsake cake cutting knives that the couple should use for their cake cutting ceremony, when it's time to get down to business, Williamson recommends pulling out a real knife. "For the cake being cut in the kitchen, I suggest an 8" sharp bladed knife and a pitcher of hot water to make nice neat slices," explains Williamson.

Additionally, have a spatula handy to help carefully plate each piece.

4. Separate the Tiers

There are structural secrets hiding between the most impressive of wedding cakes, so the real secret to how to cut a tiered wedding cake is to make sure you're not cutting into cardboard.

First, separate the tiers. "Each tier of cake is built on their own piece of cardboard, which makes it very easy to move around," says Yohann Le Bescond, Executive Pastry Chef at World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida. When it comes to how to cut a tall wedding cake, look out for dowels used throughout the cake for stability. "This is why cutting it from top to bottom will not work," adds Le Bescond.

5. Cut It Into a Grid

"Typically, the cake gets cut into a large bullseye grid," explains Williamson, describing how to cut a round wedding cake. "Picture a dartboard, with sections cut in circles, and also slices down the middle." Generally, the slices will be roughly 1" thick.

Williamson says, "The cake can also be cut in a large grid, making each slice a little square." However, this could mean uneven slices on a round cake and it's a better lesson in how to cut a sheet cake or a square cake for a wedding.

6. Add a Flower to Each Piece

If you have abundant fondant decor on your cake, then don't let them go to waste on the upper tiers. Carefully place a flower on each plate as a garnish for the cake.

7. Serve It Buffet Style

Finally, it's time for the fun part! "I suggest to my clients to serve wedding cake buffet style so they can have multiple flavors," says Williamson. However, if there's just one flavor of cake, then it can be served to everyone while they're still sitting at their tables.

8. Don't Forget Your Anniversary Tier

If you plan on saving a piece of your cake to eat on your first anniversary, don't forget to save the top tier! This is traditionally what couples save as a mini version of their cake. Plus, it gives you a year to brush up on those bullseye grid cake cutting skills before attempting it again.

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