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Dessert Deconstructed

Updated: Mar 13

5-tier black and white wedding cake
Dale McDonald Photography

The cake is literally my favorite part of the reception, I'm anxiously waiting for a slice the entire night! To my surprise, the guests are waiting too. If guests have been drinking they may not want to indulge with cake right after dinner, but they definitely are looking for a slice (or two) to go!

bride and groom feeding each other cake

So what's all the fuss about the cake for? 

The cake is used for the cutting ceremony! According to the American Bridal Consultants, the cake symbolizes the first food the couple shares.

When should the cake be cut? 

There are several times when the cake can be cut and there isn't necessarily a wrong time.

- Before dinner after the couple have their first dance

- After dinner, just before dessert or

- Shortly before the couple leaves the reception

My preference is to cut the cake upfront after the couple enters the reception, typically after the first dance! Most guests have arrived to the reception by that time, photographers and videographers are still on the clock, clothing and makeup are still in tact and once the caterer is done serving dinner they can begin to slice the cake for dessert distribution. I find that cutting the cake earlier in the evening is the very best use of time.

Waiting until after dinner, your guests have begun to wander around, some guests have left and now there will be a delay in serving the cake because it will take time for the caterer to slice and plate it.

End of the night. Why wait?

wedding cake on display table
Stephen Midgett Photography

Things to consider when selecting the cake:

Will it be the only dessert? If you are having other desserts you won't need as much cake!

Is there a cutting fee? Some caterers charge a fee per slice and some a flat fee. If you have a 5-6 tier cake it may costs more than you were budgeting for to just cut the cake. Make sure you ask.

Real Cake or Fake Cake? I haven't found that it saves much money going with a fake cake. Often times you are responsible for getting the fake cake back or paying for the bakery to return and pick it up. 

Keeping the top tier or nah? Freezing the cake for the first year and eating it on the one year anniversary is a tradition. Some bakeries will offer you a small cake at no charge to celebrate your first anniversary!

Grooms Cake? This is a nice way to let the Groom pick something that represents him! This can be served at the reception or as a dessert for the rehearsal dinner.

What's In There: The basic parts of the Cake!

Cake: Why have just one type? Think about a different cake flavor for each tier. One tier yellow cake, one tier chocolate cake, top tier red velvet! Mix and match as you'd like and have some fun!

Filling: Fillings often add an additional costs per slice but it's worth it! Again, mix it up! The bottom tier is usually the largest, so making it "crowd friendly" makes sense. Think of something like yellow cake with butter cream filling. I see Cassata filing and this year I saw my first Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Filling, it was a hit! Have fun, and make sure to include your personalities in the mix.

Icing: Butter Cream is the budget friendly option vs. Fondant which is the more expensive, heavier icing required for more intricate decorating on the cake. Fondant allows for baker to add flowers, and sugar fabric swags on the cake. Fondant has come along way, it's not longer the heavy, waxy tasting icing that it once was. Fondant is often very sweet and peels right off once cut making it easy for your guests to move it to the side before eating a slice of cake. Bakeries typically have a layer of butter cream under fondant for your guests to enjoy.

5-tier white wedding cake with florals
Justin Ketchem Photography


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