Choosing your Wedding Cake Size and How To Cut The Cake on Your Big Day

Originally published in Yakima Valley Brides Magazine
By Molly Allen

Wedding cakes are a tradition dating back to Ancient Rome and have been a wedding staple ever since. Some believe that sharing wedding cake with friends and family will bring prosperity to a marriage. The cake-cutting ceremony is important to others, as it is the first activity the couple does together as a team. The custom of newlyweds feeding each other wedding cake can symbolize their commitment to provide for one another over the years to come. But whatever tradition they believe in, most couples will face the same question: What size cake should we order?

Guest List and Budget:

When it comes to determining the size of the cake, a number of factors can come into play, and there is no right or wrong answer. After all, no wedding is one-size-fits-all.

A major consideration in choosing a cake size is your guest list. How many people will be in attendance, and how many of them will want cake? Because the wedding cake is typically cut during a time of mingling and dancing, you can generally get away with only supplying cake for 75 to 80 percent of your guest count. The size you choose can also depend on whether you’ll be providing dinner, appetizers or other sweets. “I’ve done cakes for two different weddings and each couple wanted a five-tier cake,” said Elizabeth Renner, owner of Seedling Sweets. “For one wedding, almost no cake was left. For the other, half the cake was left because the guests favored other savory foods served over the sweet.” Taking a moment to consider what other offerings you’ll have available can help in pinpointing the amount of cake you’ll really need.

Something else to consider is budget. Try to pinpoint a number you’re comfortable with and work backwards from there with your bakery. “Finalize your guest list and decide on your budget,” said Christina Viera of Viera’s Bakery. “Decide how big of slices you want to serve. If you have a smaller budget, we always suggest serving smaller pieces and filling in with other sweets to still make your cake table look full.”

Don’t Forget The Top Tier:

We’ve all heard of the tradition of saving the top cake tier in the freezer for your one-year anniversary. I would not advise freezing your cake for a whole year, because truth be told, it won’t taste that good. You might consider setting the top tier aside to enjoy the day after your wedding day as a couple — as a way to extend your celebration. The big day can be incredibly busy, and most couples don’t even get the chance to try their cake other than cutting the first piece. If you do choose to set aside a tier, be sure to subtract it when calculating how much you need for guests.

Cutting The Cake:

When it’s time to cut the cake after the ceremony, generally a caterer, event planner or even family member or friend will do the honors. “We always suggest printing off a cutting guide for whoever is cutting the cake,” said Viera. “Make sure they know how to cut it. If they don’t cut it correctly, you may run out of cake for your guests.”

It’s also important to remember to remove the dowels that provide structure in most wedding cakes before cutting. For easy cutting, the knife should be wiped clean before cutting each slice.

Cutting Round Cakes:

Two inches in from the tier’s outer edge, cut a circle in the cake to outline your cutting guide. Slice 1-inch pieces within the circle. For larger tiers, 10-inch and bigger, you’ll move in another 2 inches to cut another circle. If you want to serve larger portions of cake for your guests, slice 2-inch pieces within the circle.

Cutting Square Cakes:

Two inches from the tier’s outer edge, cut across the cake. Slice 1-inch pieces, then move in another 2 inches to the next section. Slice until the entire tier is cut.

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