How to Cut a Wedding Cake

close up of a bride a groom cutting the first slice of the wedding cake together

The ceremonial cutting of the wedding cake is certainly a highlight of the reception, symbolizing the start of your shared life together, but amidst the celebration and photo ops, the question arises: how do you actually cut that beautiful cake without it crumbling into a lopsided mess? Worry not, lovebirds! This guide will equip you with the knowledge and skills to navigate this sweet task with grace and precision.

Cutting Your Wedding Cake with Confidence

Before we get into the details of the cake cutting, be sure to discuss the placement of the cake table with your catering team and/or wedding planner. The table should be placed in a spot that offers a great photo backdrop from a few different angles. If you’re using a dummy cake for the perfect photo op, the baker will usually fill a small slice of real cake and let you know precisely where to cut in. If you have a multi-tiered cake, it’ll need to be disassembled before serving, so make sure you have a table big enough to spread out while you’re cutting and serving.

Traditionally, once the first slice is on a plate, the bride feeds a bite to the groom and the groom follows suit by feeding the bride a bite. If you don’t want cake smashed in your face, discuss this process prior to the wedding reception. In the past, couples would cut the entire cake themselves, however with cakes growing increasingly larger and more complex over the years, now it’s custom for the couple to cut the first slice, and then leave the rest to the caterers. 

When you’re cutting a layered cake, the best way to go about it is by removing all the layers, however, since the cutting of the first slice is a major photo op, you’ll want to leave the layers intact and cut the initial slice from the bottom (or use a dummy cake). After that first slice it’s time to disassemble, cut and serve, and this is where many couples have the caterers take over at this point. If you want to tackle the actual cutting and serving yourself, keep reading.

How to Cut and Serve a Wedding Cake

If you have a multi-layer cake, the first step is to unstack the tiers. Using a flat metal spatula, find the base of the top tier, gently slide the spatula underneath the baseboard that separates the top tier from the tier below, lift it off and set it aside, then repeat as many times as necessary. Don’t forget to remove the dowels and any decorations as you go. For the cutting, opt for a serrated knife specifically designed for cakes, and a cake server which will help guide the slices onto plates without compromising their structural integrity.

To slice with precision, gently insert your serrated knife vertically into the cake, about 2 inches from the edge and guide it downwards in a gentle sawing motion towards the edge. Start cutting pieces in a concentric circle. After that outer circle has been cut and served, cut in another 2 inches from that edge and cut another concentric circle of pieces. Eventually you’ll be left with a 6 or 4 inch round centermost piece, which you can score and then cut into wedges. You’ll then repeat the same process for smaller tiers of cake until the entire cake is cut. If you’re working with a square or rectangular cake, cut squares or rectangles instead of circles.

As you cut the cake, your knife will get messy and sticky with cake crumbs and buttercream, and if you keep cutting with a messy knife, it’ll stick to the cake and the slices won’t cut crisply and evenly. To remedy this, every few slices, wipe the knife in the middle of a folded damp kitchen towel, then wipe your knife in the middle of a folded dry kitchen towel. It only takes a few seconds and then you can get back to cutting. Don’t start removing pieces until the entire cake is cut, then use the cake server to transfer each slice to a plate. 

Embrace imperfections and don’t stress about minor unevenness. Remember, the cake is meant to be enjoyed, it’s not being judged for its symmetry! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider delegating the cake-cutting duty to a caterer, friend or family member which allows you to relax, savor the moment, and soak in the love surrounding you.

We’d love to help you plan your wedding day at Historic Acres of Hershey. Our beautiful property boasts multiple beautiful spaces. Give us a call at 717-298-6340 to learn more or contact us