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Wedding Cake Traditions and Tips

Updated on October 13, 2009

Traditional and Modern Day Wedding Cake Etiquette

Wedding cakes did not always look as they do today.  Wedding cakes now are decorated with flowers, jewels, personal memoriabilia,and tailored to the theme of a wedding. The custom of wedding cakes evolved from different cultures and traditions.

The Wedding Cake:     The wedding cake is has been found as far back as Roman times. They were believed to be the first culture to bake pastries made from wheat, and present them at a wedding. But, instead of eating a sweet treat, the groom broke the cake over his bride's head!  Guests gathered the crumbs, believing they brought good luck.

The size of a wedding cake indicated the bride's popularity. Tiered cakes that appeared more like buns, were secured on top of each other with applesauce. Traditionally, the wedding couple kissed over the stack.  The stack would fall to the ground and was left for the guests to eat.

The cake cutting custom originated from Greece.  The cake cutting ceremony was believed to ensure a happy and fertile marriage. The couple cut sesame seed cakes as a symbol of fertility and happiness. Today's hoopla about cutting a wedding cake cutting stemned from this Greek custom.

In the eighteenth century, brandied fruit cakes were all the rage, probably because the cakes could be stored easily without spoilage. This custom was brought to North America by the Pilgrims, and eventually a white tiered cake replaced the fruit cake.

Today, wedding cakes can be seen in numerous colors, flavors, shapes and styles.  They've become works of art, that are usually prepared by specialty wedding cake designers.

Wedding Cake Etiquette

Weddings have long been known to be intertwined with tradition and symbolism. Cutting the wedding cake is just one significant ritual that newly married couples do at a reception. In addition to being a symbol of fertility, the wedding cake signifies the start of a marital relationship. 

Do's and Don'ts:

  1. The wedding cake should be cut after dinner, but before the desert is served.

  2. The cake should be cut by the bride and groom, but the groom needs to place his right hand over the bride's hand while slicing the cake...

  3. A piece of the cake is to be fed to each other, and usually the bride gives the groom the first bite..

  4. The bride should serve a piece of cake to the groom's parents, and the groom serves a piece of cake to the bride's parents.

  5. Designate a friend or someone from the catering staff to serve the remainder of the cake to the guests.

  6. The photographer is responsible to photograph or film the cake cutting ceremony.

  7. A silver cake knife should be used, such as an heirloom or a cake knife specifically purchased for the occasion.

What Not To Do:

Couples have been known to shove a piece of cake into each other's faces, but, this type of activity is not elegant or dignified. This will be remembered as the first interaction between the couple as husband and wife. Wedding memories could be more about anger, hurt and embarrassment than a loving and cherished event.. The cake smashing will be captured in photos and on video, and the incident will be documented for all time.

If a candy bar or sweet table is being offered at the reception, generally, it will be opened after the cutting of the cake event. Now, it's time to hit the dance floor and enjoy an evening of dancing as you begin your journey together.

Modern Wedding Cake

Modern Wedding Cake
Modern Wedding Cake


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      Jessie Penn 8 years ago

      Thanks, sandwichmom! I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

    • sandwichmom profile image

      sandwichmom 8 years ago from Arkansas

      I help out once a week at a wedding supply wholesaler- This is great info to use