With every event we take part in, timing is a major element of success, especially with weddings. Within a typical 5 hour reception time block, a whirlwind of activity takes place. To ensure great food, great service, and that everyone has a great time there are various elements of the wedding reception timeline that are better at one point than at others.
Why does it matter when we choose to cut the cake at the reception?
Timing isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about the traditional cutting of the cake at a reception. For most of us, it conjures of images of couples feeding cake to each other. In days past, the cake was cut at the very end of the reception, providing the unspoken signal to guests that it was okay to leave without being rude. However, with modern changes in cake design, wedding photography, and all around basic timelines, the cake is now cut before dinner, usually directly following the grand introductions
Cutting the cake early in the evening serves a few purposes.
First, the couple is looking their best for their grand introductions, moving directly to cake cutting ensures they will continue to look their best for those photos and that special moment as well.
Secondly, the longer the wedding cake sits out, the more likely it is that it will begin to droop or sag as its temperature rises with the temperature in the room. Cutting the cake early guarantees it looks its best for the photos just like the newlyweds.
Third, cutting the cake early helps for a more consistent and smooth dinner service. Waiting to cut the cake till after dinner is served may break up the energy of the event and guests may miss this moment if they are still eating when the cutting occurs. If the cake is taken to be cut before dinner, once entrees are cleared the cake can be served without a lapse in time slowing down the evening.
At what point during the reception should we do our first dance?
Traditionally, the first dance kicks off the dancing portion of the reception. So, most couples save the first dance until after the meal has been completed. This way, the dining portion of the evening has a more leisurely, relaxed pace; then, once everyone is done eating, you hit the dance floor for your first dance, which instantly shifts the mood into a higher gear. This also signals to your guests that it’s time for them to get out of their seats and celebrate with you on the dance floor.
Some couples prefer to have their first dance before dinner to introduce themselves as a couple. This type of a set up creates a nice energy and buzz in the room, the only caveat with this sequence is that you miss the segueing from dinner to dancing, dinner tends to drain people’s energy back, and it can potentially slow down your dinner service, compromising the quality of your meal if dancing takes longer than planned.
It has been recommended by a few of our preferred photographers that couples take part in their parent dances before they share their first dance. This allows the photographer to perfect their lighting and angles during the parent dances so that they get the best images of the couple during their first dance.
When should we have the toasts and why? Can’t we just let those that want to toast us do it when they feel moved to?
In a short answer, no. Toasts, like other elements in a wedding timeline, have an assigned place within the big picture. If toasting became a free for all, major disaster could strike at any turn.
Ideally, toasts should occur after dinner while cake is being served. This avoids any accidently long winded family members or friends from delaying the dinner serve and compromising food quality.