Weddings

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Cake-cutting etiquette and guidelines

The presentation of the wedding cake marks the culmination of the day's festivities and a final symbol of a happy couple's new partnership. Many people eagerly await the cake as much as they may anticipate catching a glimpse of the bride in her beautiful gown. While the cake in all its finery can be a beautiful sight to behold, a cake can only last so long before its fate as a delicious dessert is sealed.

As is the case with many wedding traditions, there is some established etiquette with regard to cutting and serving wedding cake. If you plan on putting your cake on display, be sure it is made with a frosting and filling that can endure room temperature. Certain creams may sour if not refrigerated, and you do not want anyone becoming ill. If you have your heart set on perishable fillings, keep the cake refrigerated and then have the big reveal right before it is cut.

The cake cutting usually comes near the end of the wedding reception. Schedule the cutting so that older guests or young children can leave without feeling as if they would be offending anyone. The emcee of the evening typically announces the cake cutting, and the band may play a quirky tune or revisit the wedding song while the first slice is being cut.

A bride should hold the cake knife with her right hand, while the groom places his right hand over hers before they proceed to slice down together. If the cake has a foam or cardboard support, be careful not to cut through it. Use a cake server to grab the first piece.

Traditionally the newly betrothed will feed each other a bite of the cake to symbolize their first meal as a couple. Couples can feed each other a small amount, taking care not to spill any. Many couples no longer embrace the once-popular tradition of smashing cake in each other's faces, but whether or not couples follow this tradition is up to them.

Some couples like to serve their parents a piece of cake. Traditionally the bride should serve the groom's parents and the groom the bride's parents.

If there is a groom's cake, guests may prefer a slice of both cakes. Guests may also want to take home a slice of the groom's cake. Tradition states that a piece of the groom's cake should be presented to an unmarried woman attending the wedding. The woman is not expected to eat the cake, but rather to put it under her pillow. Superstition held that this tradition would help an unmarried woman find a husband. Make arrangements for proper packaging of the groom's cake, so guests can take home a slice if they so desire.

The waitstaff typically handles the slicing of the cake. The uppermost tier is reserved for the couple to save, and the remainder of the cake will be served.

Recognize that not all guests like cake, but it's better to err on the side of caution and have a cake that will feed all of the guests. You also may want to offer a dessert bar for guests who prefer another type of sweet treat. However, this is a luxury, not a necessity.

The cake-cutting ritual at weddings has withstood the test of time, and many couples still prefer to present the cake with fanfare and excitement.