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When Do You Cut The Cake At A Wedding? [How Should It Be Done?]

Whether you’re cutting into a traditional buttercream or you are serving a more millennial-style three-tiered donut stand, the symbolic tradition of cutting the cake is a must. But timing is everything, and knowing when that time is can be difficult. 

So, when do you cut the cake at a wedding? Ideally, a couple should cut the cake when it is easy to capture the attention of the guests. Traditionally this is between dinner and dancing during the reception because guests are looking for a little pick-me-up and a sweet, satisfying moment. 

While there may be some options for mixing up the tradition, it’s less about a time-table and more about capturing the moment. 

Besides, this is a monumental moment in any wedding day, and something that guests look forward to.

Not just the cutting but the tasting, of course.

Let us now take a closer look at exactly how to go about cutting the cake. From when it should be cut all the way through to how and when.

When Should You Cut The Cake At A Wedding?

Traditionally you should cut the cake after dinner and before your guests get ready to dance. This gives guests time to settle after their main course.

But not everyone likes the idea of a traditional cake-cutting photo op, and it needn’t necessarily be followed.

So below, we will take a closer look at both the more traditional approach and an opportunity to throw a little of your own style into the mix. 

The most important thing to remember is you just need a starting point, and from there, the show is yours. 

Traditional Moments

The traditional cake-cutting moment is one where the audience is fully captivated by the bride and groom as they cut the first piece of cake together. Typically, this is a great photo moment, and the DJ or band plays music quietly so people can see and hear what’s going on. 

The popular time for this makes sense which is why it’s been a longstanding tradition to do this between dinner and dancing. 

Knowing if you are too soon or too late is important, which may be a little stressful for the bride to keep track of. 

This is a great job for either a wedding planner or a maid of honor to keep an eye out for. 

Too Soon

If you rush your guests during dinner and cut the cake while they are still eating, there is a good chance that you are disrupting the vibe and conversations at the table.

Timing is everything, so if some people feel like they need to hurry up and finish their main course while others are taking down your cake, you may have people ready to dance sooner than others. 

A good tip for this is to have someone look out for when the waiters/waitresses start to clear out the plates and offer coffee/tea.

Once the coffee and tea go out, you can have the DJ or band make an announcement it is time for the cake-cutting. 

Too Late

Speaking in traditional terms only, some consider it to be too late when you allow the dancing to take place only to interrupt it a little later for your special moment.

However, this doesn’t have to be the case. 

Here’s why. 

Different Paths

Not all couples want that stop and stare moment. This is why cutting the cake during the dancing portion may actually be a great idea. 

Sometimes guests actually are too full to eat cake right away, and giving them a break is a much better way of going about it. 

Another awesome thing about cutting the cake later is not everyone wants to dance. 

You may have a mixed age range were some of the older people want to sit at the table and talk some of the time. 

By cutting the cake a little bit later, you allow some people to sit and enjoy the atmosphere and others to do their thing.

A little less structure after a structured ceremony and first-half of the reception is always well-received. 

And no matter when you cut the cake, most of your guests will take a moment to notice anyways!

How Do You Introduce The Cake Cutting At A Wedding?

Introducing the cutting of the cake at a wedding can be done with an official announcement by the DJ/Band, a speech by the speechmaker (or member of the bridal party) or it can be done much more quietly and naturally.

Nevertheless, it’s up to the couple to decide, considering how much attention they want to bring to the event.

And introducing the cake cutting of a wedding can be a little tricky and will ultimately depend on the style you are going for.

If you are looking to really grab the attention of your guests, there are a few different ways you can do this.

Or, if you are looking for something a little more reserved, you can.

Let us explore these options further:

Formal DJ/Band Announcement:

The smoothest way and arguably the most popular is to have the DJ or band lower the music volume and make the announcement. 

The emcee should deliver something light that gathers the attention of your guests without commanding them.

There is no need to tell them to wrap up any conversations but encourage guests to turn their attention to the beautiful cake display. 

The timing becomes vital as they should start this announcement at the end of one song and finish just before beginning the chosen cake-cutting song. 


Another seamless way to do this is to have one of your speechmakers incorporate it at the end of their speech. 

This should, in theory, be one of the last speeches if you are going to do it traditionally between dinner and dancing as not many speeches are given on the dance floor.

It could be tied in flawlessly, such as, “with that being said, let the couple of the night start their journey by cutting the cake.” 

Or it could be something even funny like asking the groom and bride to let people have some cake already. Of course, this needs to be delivered well but is an option. 

Quieter Moments: 

If you are looking for a more intimate moment where you don’t want everyone to stop and stare, you can have the emcee announce at the beginning of the dancing that the cake cutting will be done later in the night while everyone is up and about. 

You can cut the cake without warning and have the emcee announce it just as you are finishing. 

They may say something along the lines of, “and there you have it the cake has been cut, and slices will be set out on the table in the back. Have some now, later, or both.” 

This is a more natural moment for those who don’t want a full stop for their cake-cutting moment. 

What Is A Good Cake Cutting Song For Your Wedding?

Having music is not always necessary, but most people like to have some good background music on. This can take some pressure off the bride and groom to have a perfect moment and make things a little more relaxed. 

Choosing a song that fits you is the most important thing when it comes to a cake-cutting song.

But here are some excellent recommendations, both more traditionally and non-traditionally to start your brainstorm. 

Upbeat Non-Traditional

  1. “Cake By The Ocean,” by DNCE
  2. “Sugar,” by Maroon 5
  3. “Lover,” by Taylor Swift
  4. “Best Day Of My Life,” by American Authors
  5. “Just The Way You Are,” by Bruno Mars

Sweet Traditional

  1. “You Are The Best Song,’ by Ray LaMontagne
  2. “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You,” by James Taylor
  3. “You Make My Dreams,” Hall & Oats
  4. “Stand By Me,” by Ben. E. King
  5. “Love And Marriage,” by Frank Sinatra

Following these lines will lead you to hundreds of songs just like these that are great for this moment. 

However, the most special thing you can do is choose a song with some significance to the both of you. 

It’s like a fun little secret for you and your newlywed because the wedding song is expected to be like this, whereas the cake-cutting song is more filler noise. 

What Do You Say When Cutting The Cake?

Well, in today’s age, it’s more about what you do or do not do. It used to be traditional to feed each other a bite. But now the new tradition seems to be smashing the cake in one another’s face. 

It’s a playful gesture that has taken over what seems to feel like an awkward feeding in front of their guests. 

However, some couples take the time to thank their guests during the cake-cutting portion because the cake-cutting also signifies the last symbolic moment of the wedding. 

Some guests, after eating, may opt-out to stay the whole time and start to leave. 

The thank-you does not need to be a long speech as guests have already heard quite a few. 

But that doesn’t mean your guests don’t want to hear from you at all. It’s a chance to address and recognize everyone in case you don’t get a chance to throughout the night.  

Ultimate Decisions

At the end of the day, your wedding day is entirely up to you. 

Something may feel more or less natural than other options, and there is nothing worse than forced decisions.

Having said that, it’s a great idea to take these guidelines and run with them.

The most important thing to remember is that if you do want to capture your guest’s full attention for the cake-cutting moment, it needs to be well-timed and thought out. 

You will have a more challenging time interrupting a major dance-off than catching people in between events. 

This is why traditional cake-cutting themes have been around forever because they have been tried and true. 

Related Questions

Do You Cut The Cake Before Or After Dinner?

Traditionally, the cake is cut after dinner and after the first dance. However, some couples do cut the cake before dinner is served. Either way, it is important that the cake is not cut too late. Otherwise, the older guests could miss the cutting of the cake altogether.

What Does Cutting The Cake At A Wedding Symbolize?

The cutting of the cake at a wedding symbolizes the start of the marriage; for it is the first activity done together as a couple. Historically, however, cutting the cake was done alone by the bride, and this was to symbolize the loss of her virginity and to promote prosperity and fertility.

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