How to Cut a Wedding Cake

Ways of cutting wedding cake vary by tier shape.

yellow frosting wedding cake slice
How to cut a wedding cake and the ways of cutting wedding cake are important things to consider prior to your wedding reception. From what part of the cake do the bride and groom cut their traditional piece? What type of knife is used? If you are coordinating a wedding for your first time, then you may be asking these questions.

Ways of cutting wedding cake can be quite different from cutting an ordinary round cake. The slices won't be pie shaped. Whatever the shape of the cake, there will be many more pieces to cut than usual. Here are a few tips when learning how to cut a wedding cake.
  • Cut the cake with a pretty wedding-cake knife if possible. These can be purchased or rented, either alone or in a set with a server.
  • Keep a pitcher of water and napkins handy so that the cutting knife may be dipped between cuts.
  • Be organized. Ahead of time, remove the knife, server, plates, napkins, and forks from their packages.
  • With the exception of the small piece the bride and groom cut from a bottom tier, the cake is cut from the top.
  • Often the top tier is saved for the bride and groom to take home with them and freeze for their first anniversary.
  • Some like to dismantle the tiers and start the cutting from the largest piece. That way, if cake is left over, it may be a complete tier.
In a traditional American wedding, the bride and groom cut the first piece together. This is one of the highlights of the wedding reception and a special part of how to cut a wedding cake. Have the cake table ready for them. The groom places his right hand over the bride's hand, and they cut the slice together from the bottom tier. They share this first slice by feeding it to each other. Often, they will smear cake on each others' faces.

The photographer will probably cue them on where to stand for the pictures while cutting the cake and feeding each other. To avoid wedding cake being smeared on the wedding clothing, set out forks or have the couple cut tinier pieces from a small piece on a plate.

Now for everyone else. Directions vary according to the type of cake. The following tips have been tested and are fairly standard. If you are a visual learner, sketching these will be a good idea. You may also want to practice at home on a cake. Simply buy a cake pan in the shape of the wedding cake, and bake your favorite one-tier cake.

How to cut a wedding cake for round tiers: Beginning with the tier second from the top (if saving the top tier for bride and groom), cut a circle about 2 inches inside the outer edge. Inside this circle, slice 1-inch pieces. Then move in another 2 inches, and cut another circle. Again, slice 1-inch pieces. Continue with this pattern until you reach the center core. This can be cut into halves, fourths, or larger pieces depending on its size. Once you've cut this tier, follow these instructions for each tier.

For petal-shaped tiers: Cut each petal as if it were a round tier.

For hexagon tiers: This follows the same basic pattern as for round tiers.

Ways of cutting wedding cake for oval tiers: Moving in 2 inches from the outer edge, cut horizontally across the cake. Then slice 1-inch pieces by slicing from this line outwards. Each piece will be 1 inch across and 2 inches up and down. Once this row is done, move in again 2 inches and repeat. Continue until tier is cut. Repeat with each tier.

For square tiers: Cut the same as oval tiers.

For heart-shaped tiers: Depending on how many servings you need (better to give seconds than not cut enough), cut each tier vertically into halves, quarters, sixths or eighths. Then within the rows, slice 1-inch pieces.

To give an idea of how many servings your cake cutting will yield, here are a few figures based on 4-inch by 2-inch by 1-3/8-inch slices:
  • 6-inch round tier: 10 servings
  • 24-inch round tier: 165 servings
  • 11 x 15-inch sheet cake: 60 servings
  • Tiered cake with three tiers of 8, 12 and 16 inches: about 110 servings.
If your reception is catered, you will probably not need to know how to cut a wedding cake. Be sure to think about ways of cutting wedding cake ahead of time so you will have a chance to practice at home if necessary.

Written by: Cindy Blankenship