Etiquette

When to cut the cake..

So, I wanted to get the cake cutting done pretty early in the reception. Especially because I know I'm going to be dancing and probably getting sweaty and I want the pictures to look nice. When I told my caterer the original timeline (which had us cutting the cake immediately after dinner), she insisted that cutting the cake is the cue that people can leave and go home. She said that in her experience, the party basically ends immediately after the cake cut. I obviously don't want this. We still have hours of time left in the venue to dance after dinner and I would love for guests to stay. 

On the other hand, I was reading that cutting the cake earlier is more appropriate because it essentially allows guests to leave when tired, instead of feeling like they are being "held hostage" until the cake is cut later in the night. 

Advice please! I don't really think my guests would leave right after the cake is cut, but I'm worried about my caterer's previous experiences. And I also don't want to wait too long and look a gross, sweaty mess while my guests have been wanting to leave but were too polite. 

Re: When to cut the cake..

  • Our reception started at 6pm, we cut the cake around 7:45 or 8:00.  But yes, once the cake is done that's the indicator that people can leave.  We had a number of older guests and so we cut the cake early for them.  After that, a handful of people left (the older folks who weren't interested in dancing), but we still had a rockin' party.
    Married 9.12.15
    image
  • Our reception started at 6pm, we cut the cake around 7:45 or 8:00.  But yes, once the cake is done that's the indicator that people can leave.  We had a number of older guests and so we cut the cake early for them.  After that, a handful of people left (the older folks who weren't interested in dancing), but we still had a rockin' party.
    Out of curiosity, did you do the first dance prior to cutting the cake? My current timeline is:

    4:30 Reception Begins/Buffet Opens
    5:00 Toasts
    5:30 First Dance
    6:30 Cake Cutting

    My only concern with this timeline is that we would have to stop the dancing to cut the cake. Seems like a strange break in energy levels. Wasn't quite sure if that would flow nicely. 
  • julieanne912julieanne912
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    edited September 2016
    Here's the schedule.... we did move up the cake cutting on the fly from the time I have listed here because my 96 year old grandpa was getting restless for dessert :)

    We also did NOT have 45 minutes of speeches... maybe 10-15 tops, and we did the mom dance right after that, which meant we could move up the cake cutting.  I think we did the mom dance and then had a few songs and then did the cake cutting.    

    I also know that doing the first dance before dinner is unusual but it seemed to work out nicely to do it right after we walked in.

    5:00PM - Ceremony Starts

    5:30PM - Cocktail Hour/Extended Family Photos

    6:15PM - Bride/Groom Introduction and First Dance

    6:20PM - Dinner Start

    7:00PM - Speeches

    7:45PM - Mom Dance (play this by ear, are people done eating?)

    8:30PM - Cake Cutting/Dessert

    10:00PM - End party


    Married 9.12.15
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  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair
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    I'm pretty sure if you enter your reception and then cut the cake your guests will know that the reception didn't just end.

    We cut our cake after we entered the reception, in order to give the staff time to cut and plate it, and because I hate being interrupted from dancing to watch the cake cutting, watch the spotlight dances, watch the bouquet toss, etc.

    We entered, cut the cake, had the toasts, and did spotlight dances all up front.  It flowed well and everyone was able to mingle and drink and enjoy the cocktail hour app stations during all of this.  By the time all tat was finished the dinner food stations were open :-)

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


    ViczaesarMesmrEweOurWildKingdom
  • I actually do like the idea of doing all the ceremonial activities on the front end. 
    MesmrEweMandyMostOurWildKingdom
  • DD and SIL cut the cake immediately upon entering the reception. Spotlight dances were after dinner. No left the reception before dinner was served!
    MeetTheLarasPrettyGirlLost
  • I like cutting the cake early so that guests who aren't into dancing can leave.  Elderly people often have an early bedtime.  You can continue the party after the cake cutting for the people who are party animals.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • DD and SIL cut the cake immediately upon entering the reception. Spotlight dances were after dinner. No left the reception before dinner was served!

    This feels like a good flow to me. Thanks everyone! 
    MesmrEwe
  • The majority of weddings I've attended (my own included) had cake cutting towards the end of the reception.   Around 11 for an 8-12 party.  Maybe it's a good DJ (or a good crowd), but the flow is never terribly broken up.  
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest
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    We entered at the end of cocktail hour and went straight into our first dance, then cut the cake. Toasts happened during dinner, cake was fully cut in time for dessert, then did the parent dances right after dinner, and continued the dancing from there. No more interruptions.

    Anniversary

    MesmrEwePrettyGirlLostcowgirl8238
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado
    Moderator Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    mod
    This might depend on your crowd.  The bar closing is the only thing that ends a party in my circle.   I've seen cakes cut at various times.  

    Ours was about 9, then reception ended at 11pm.  This past weekend's wedding had cut cutting after the dinner, which was about 8:15.  Their wedding lasted until 12am.








    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    MesmrEweglasgowtolondon
  • I had a cousin who insisted the same B as in B, S as in S!  Here's the reality - 50% of your guests are going to leave after dinner regardless of whether the cake is cut or not.  It's just plain old reality and is NOTHING personal to the B&G EVER.  Holding off on cutting the cake is rude IMO because I freaking LOVE cake, and not just any cake, wedding cake, and want it with my dinner - o.k.!  (DH's cousin a few weeks back held off like your caterer is suggesting and half the people just got up and left anyway - might have also had something to do with the bride's announcement that the cash bar was over the second we all sat down for dinner..  I had a cousin years back who decided to wait until mid-dance to do the cake, half the guests had already left and she had 180 cupcakes to figure out what to do with - granted I didn't feel bad taking 10 home in a box with me because - they were my aunt's baking and they were AWESOME! but that's not the point).. 

    Here's an idea - as soon as you walk in the room - go and cut the cake!  Then you can eat, drink, and be merry without a care in the world of whether nor not you accidentally drop a noodle on your dress causing a slight discoloration during dinner.  Your guests as soon as they're finished eating can have their slice of cake to enjoy right away.  (Have your caterer place any extra slices at the end of dinner on the cake table for guests to casually grab as a snack later in the evening even if this means you provide some plastic plates/forks.  It'll make you look good.  People who are going to leave are going to do so regardless of a slice of cake.  And, like you said - pretty pictures!

    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • I actually do like the idea of doing all the ceremonial activities on the front end. 

    In the ideal world - THIS!!! 
    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
    PrettyGirlLost
  • IME, people will leave when they want to leave. If they are someone who is going to leave early, they will regardless. Some people will wait until cake is cut and then leave after, but they are leaving because they want/need to, not because the cake is cut.

    IME, the party keeps going until the DJ calls last call at the bar!

    We cut our cake later in the evening, around the same time the late night buffet came out, but we also had a dessert course with dinner.

    If you want to cut your cake early, I would do it after dinner.

    We did our first dance as we were introduced into the reception, then sat down to eat. We had courses, so did toasts in between, then once dinner was over, did the parent dance and opened the dance floor for the night.

    Do you have a dessert course? Or is it your cake? If it's your cake, I would cut it right after dinner so your guests can enjoy it while toasts are made. If not, you could cut it after the toasts, then you and your FH head out to the dance floor for your first dance. Once the dance floor is open your guests are free to dance or go grab some cake at their leisure.
  • We're just doing the cake, coffee, and tea. After reading all the PP's advice and chatting with some friends, we've decided to cut the cake immediately after dinner. We're still trying to decide if we want to do our first dance when we first walk in and then do dinner. Or if we want to save the first dance for after cutting the cake. 

    My FH reminded me that we won't have many elderly guests. Most of our guests are flying in just for the wedding, so we don't foresee them checking out too early. Plus it's open bar, and I've never seen our friends leave an open bar. haha. 
    SP29
  • We did the same as @Flantastic.  Found it all flowed better to have fewer interruptions.
    PrettyGirlLostcharlotte989875MesmrEwe
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    member
    We did the same as @Flantastic.  Found it all flowed better to have fewer interruptions.
    I'm hoping that more and more people take up this trend.  As a guest I think the night is more enjoyable and flows better at the receptions where all he ceremonial stuff is all together, right up front.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


    cowgirl8238MesmrEweOurWildKingdom
  • We did the same as @Flantastic.  Found it all flowed better to have fewer interruptions.
    I'm hoping that more and more people take up this trend.  As a guest I think the night is more enjoyable and flows better at the receptions where all he ceremonial stuff is all together, right up front.

    I agree.  I never liked the start/stop feelings of other weddings we went to, so I said screw it and got everything done before we "opened" the dance floor.  We only had a few people leave the reception early, and it left us with 2.5 or 3 hours of straight dancing/party time in the standard "4.5 hour" reception. 
  • We did the same as @Flantastic.  Found it all flowed better to have fewer interruptions.
    I'm hoping that more and more people take up this trend.  As a guest I think the night is more enjoyable and flows better at the receptions where all he ceremonial stuff is all together, right up front.

    I agree.  I never liked the start/stop feelings of other weddings we went to, so I said screw it and got everything done before we "opened" the dance floor.  We only had a few people leave the reception early, and it left us with 2.5 or 3 hours of straight dancing/party time in the standard "4.5 hour" reception. 
    Yeah, my whole goal is to put the cake cutting in a spot where we won't get a strange energy dip after the dancing starts. I still think that can be achieved by cutting the cake after dinner, prior to the first dance. Then once the dancefloor is open, it's open for good.
    PrettyGirlLostSP29cowgirl8238MandyMost
  • We did the same as @Flantastic.  Found it all flowed better to have fewer interruptions.
    I'm hoping that more and more people take up this trend.  As a guest I think the night is more enjoyable and flows better at the receptions where all he ceremonial stuff is all together, right up front.

    I agree.  I never liked the start/stop feelings of other weddings we went to, so I said screw it and got everything done before we "opened" the dance floor.  We only had a few people leave the reception early, and it left us with 2.5 or 3 hours of straight dancing/party time in the standard "4.5 hour" reception. 
    Yeah, my whole goal is to put the cake cutting in a spot where we won't get a strange energy dip after the dancing starts. I still think that can be achieved by cutting the cake after dinner, prior to the first dance. Then once the dancefloor is open, it's open for good.
    This is what I did. We did 2 toasts between the appetizer and main course, and then as soon as dinner was over we did the cake cutting on the side of the dance floor, followed immediately by our first dance, then a "family dance" (instead of individual spotlight dances) which had about 10 people on the dance floor, which officially opened the dance floor for the night. 

    Yes, some people left soon after dinner was over. But I didn't care. I was having a blast!
    MeetTheLaras
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