A fine cake has always been necessary for weddings in many cultures and societies. The cake is nothing less than a centerpiece for celebrating a new partnership, a sign of the hosts’ generosity, and a symbol of the newlyweds’ love.
Every guest is holding their breath for the moment when a bride and a groom join hands and make the first cut.
What does cutting a cake at a wedding mean?
According to tradition, when the bride and groom cut small pieces of the wedding cake and feed each other, it represents their complete dedication to the other and a promise of mutual care. Cutting the cake together means the married couple agrees to share all the good things in their life.
And for curious folks like you, we have an article to explain it. Sit comfortably and let us tell you about the origins of cutting the wedding cake and its deeper meanings.
Table of Contents
History and Origins
The tradition of cutting the wedding cake is rather old and has undergone several custom changes.
In Ancient Greece and Rome, cutting the cake and crumbling it over the bride’s head signified good luck and fortune to the young family. It also represented fertility.
Sometimes, the groom was the one to break the cake over his wife’s head.
The wedding cake would be made of the best quality ingredients to symbolize a happy and long-lasting marriage and luck to all the guests who take a piece of this sacred dessert.
At another point in time, the bride was the one to cut the cake. Such a gesture was seen as the providence of good fortune to the newlyweds.
Today, the bride is usually helped by her new husband in the act of sharing this good fortune.
Aside from this meaning, cutting the cake together means that the married couple agrees to share all the good things in their life. In other words, it resembles the continuation of the vows at the altar.
In the Middle Ages, the tradition of wedding cakes changed.
Have you wondered where the idea of high-stacked cakes originated? Well, now you know. Couples of that time were expected to kiss over the cake; if the cake stayed untouched, the young family would be blessed with many children.
As the tradition of high-stacked cakes continued, the newlyweds were encouraged to start from the bottom tier as it was believed to give their marriage longevity. This cake was later given to the guests as a sign of good luck.
From a Christian perspective, cutting the cake also involves the newlyweds’ unity and faithfulness.
According to tradition, when the bride and groom cut the pieces of the wedding cake and feed each other, it represents their total dedication and mutual care.
With those pieces of cake, they give off their last individual bits to each other, becoming one flesh, one person. That’s why it is important to do this ritual lovingly and solemnly.
Another interpretation of cutting the wedding cake suggests that by helping the bride cut the wedding cake, her groom promises unconditional support and care for their future as a family.
The Victorian Period
It is also widely suggested that the wedding cake cutting tradition comes from Victorian England.
At that time, the tradition involved throwing the cake at the bride.
The tradition was quite popular in England, where people believed they improved the bride’s fertility through such a curious act.
Interestingly enough, the idea of wedding cakes came to England when the Romans conquered the island in 43 CE.
Before that, the English treated guests to wheat cakes. In conclusion, thank the Romans for bringing some elegance and taste to the wedding table.
Starting the Cake-Cutting Ritual
In case you’re the one getting married, first of all, congratulations! Second, you may be confused about what to do and when.
Usually, the cake-cutting starts after the main dining is complete and is followed by the parent dances. This is the best time to go through cake cutting and dessert dining.
It is also a good idea to combine cake-cutting with other rituals.
For example, tossing the bouquet after the cake-cutting is convenient when the sentimental and fun mood is still present. Also, it is practical because caterers will have more time to cut, plate, and serve the dessert.
Another piece of advice – consider the elderly guests and guests with children when scheduling the cake-cutting. Try to include cake cutting after all the key events and leave the optional activities afterward for those guests who do not have to leave earlier.
Cutting a Wedding Cake the Right Way
There are a few tips on how to cut a wedding cake.
- First of all, take some advice from professionals – caterers and cake bakers are here to help you. It’s essential to make the first cut perfectly and not ruin the tower.
- Use the right knife. Choosing the knife is the next important step. It’s better to choose a wedding cake knife-set for the cut. Not only will you make the first cut perfectly, but you can also save this set as a beautiful memory for your anniversaries.
- Standing in the correct position is another essential box to tick. One of you should stand closest to the cake and hold the knife firmly with your dominant hand. The second spouse has to stand behind you, having their hand on top of yours.
- Cut the cake the right way. Press the knife one inch into the bottom tier. Starting from the bottom, you’ll sense the pressure more easily and won’t break the top tiers. Also, do not “see-saw” your knife so the cake won’t crumble.
- Decide if you want a square or wedge slice. Depending on the shape you want to cut, make two parallel cuts to get a square, while two diagonal cuts will give you a wedge-shaped piece.
- Serve the cake. Serve the piece of cake by sliding the server underneath and putting the piece on a plate. But don’t forget you need two pieces – one for your spouse and you.
After the cake is cut, the custom tells spouses to feed each other.
Feeding each other symbolizes the first thing done as a married couple. It’s also considered a public recognition of mutual support and commitment for each other.
At this point, caterers can start serving the cake to the guests.
- One more tip: some couples prefer to save the top tier of the cake for a later occasion. Usually, it’s the first wedding anniversary or the christening of a newborn. That’s why making the top tier a fruitcake or any other cake that stores well for extended periods is recommended.
Other Wedding Cake Traditions
Let’s say you and your spouse are the two easygoing and funny members of your friend group.
So, smash that cake in each other’s face instead of feeding each other like a cute couple!
It’s a modern reinterpretation of breaking the wedding bread over the bride’s head for good luck, so you can tell your parents it’s not silly.
Another great tradition is wedding cake charms. Just like any other wedding custom, it’s rather old.
Different charms have their own special meaning:
- Ring: soon-to-happen engagement
- Heart: finding love
- Horseshoe or Clover: luck
- Anchor: adventures
- Purse: a fortune
You can add the little charms to your wedding cake, but make sure to warn the guests to prevent choking incidents.
White icing seems like an obvious choice for a wedding cake. But even this tradition goes back to Victorian times.
Back then, it was considered a sign of social status and money. White sugar, which was a part of the icing, was quite expensive, so only wealthy families could afford it.
You don’t have to follow suit, but in case you want to, now you know the origins.
And who said there should be only one wedding cake? In fact, the “classic” wedding cake was usually considered a bride’s cake. And the grooms were sulky!
Just kidding. Nevertheless, by the 17th century, a groom’s cake became a thing. Traditionally, it was a small fruitcake. But if you are interested, you are free to change it! Give grooms the cake they deserve!
In general, your wedding is your playground. Your wedding is one of the most important events in your life, so who can blame you for trying to make it as enjoyable and memorable as possible?
We hope these tips will give you some inspiration. Or reignite the fire of imagination if you are tired of all the fuss. One way or another, the wedding cake is the headliner of your wedding, so it’s worth all the effort.