Cake Cutting Before or After First Dance


Your reception is a grand event celebrating your first social function as husband and wife. While the entire day is all about you and your new spouse, you need to remember your guests and their enjoyment of the party. A reception needs to have a good flow so your guests don’t get lost or bored. This leaves questions about proper reception etiquette like should you do your cake cutting before or after first dance? This article will help you work out a good flow for your reception and ensure a memorable time for everyone who attends!

Cake Cutting Before or After First Dance?

It’s customary to cut the cake after your first dance as a couple.

The first dance is usually the “opening” of the dance floor and when the party revs up. Whether you have your first dance just after your grand entrance, or after dinner, what is most important is the flow of your reception and guest comfort.

You don’t want your guests to be sitting at the table in conversation when they are called to the dance floor and then have to sit back down to dinner, then up again for cake cutting. Think about it: up/down up/down can be a little exhausting.

The importance of time of cake cutting is that you want your guests to stay until the end of the reception and cake cutting is typically a signal the reception is ending. So again, should you do cake cutting before or after first dance? After is a better choice.

Wedding Etiquette: Basic Wedding Reception Timeline

Know the timeline to help you understand how to keep a good flow and keep your guests engaged in the affair:

Cocktail Hour

You will most likely stay behind at the wedding site for pictures. It is best to not have a break in between wedding and reception, so your guests should be directed to proceed to the reception for a cocktail hour. This should only be about an hour since your guests are most likely starving and you don’t want to keep them waiting for your grand entrance. You can have some simple hors d’oeuvres and beer, wine, or fancy drinks depending on your budget.


Grand Entrance (First Dance)

Have your DJ announce your imminent arrival and the guests can just stand at their places to applaud your entrance. The DJ should announce each attendant first and then the grand entrance of the bride and groom. Some people choose to have the couple do their first dance at this time and then be seated for dinner. Just keep in mind that dancing usually starts dancing for all the guests, so you will have to work this carefully. Waiting on the first dance keeps the guests in anticipation of the party atmosphere.


Dinner and Toast

After your grand entrance, everyone will be standing at their places. Have your DJ announce for people to take their seats for dinner. At this time, the service staff will begin pouring wine and dinner is served.

Towards the end of the meal, the wine glasses are switched out for champagne glasses and the maid-of-honor and best man will each give a toast to the bride and groom.

If you did not have your first dance after your grand entrance, now is a good time to do this. Then you can have the father/daughter dance and the mother/son dance.



If at this point you want to dance, you can have the DJ kick up the music and start all the guests dancing. Give this about an hour and then have the DJ cut the music and announce for everyone to step over to the cake table. This is a good time since most of your guests will already be up and away from their tables.


Cake Cutting

After some fun dancing, your guests will be ready for some sweets. Head over to the cake table and do your cake cutting. This will also be a “soft ending” to your reception and you can be sent on your way to your honeymoon or continue the party. Doing the cake cutting too early in the reception, you may lose some of your guests. This is why when you ask if you should do cake cutting before or after first dance, you may not have any guests left for the toast.

But bear in mind that you can make minor adjustments in order of these events, here’s one sample timeline:

Helpful Tips for Cake Cutting and the Whole Process

Keep cake cutting as close to dinner as possible.

If you wait too long to cut your cake, you may lose some guests. Take a break from dancing, cut the cake and continue the party afterwards. If you ordered a five-tiered cake that was almost as much as your dress, you will want to make sure it gets eaten.

Keep sitting events for sitting, and standing events for standing: Don’t mix.

Some brides and grooms schedule a bit of dancing between events. Dance (standing and away from table), dinner (sitting at table), cake cutting (standing near cake), toast (back at the dinner table), dancing (standing). As you can see, this could be exhausting for your guests to be up and down several times. Keep a flow that anything done while seated all happen at the same time and events that happen while standing all happen at the same time.

Keep music in tune with each event.

If you play loud and fast music, your guests are going to want to dance. Keep cocktail/dinner music soft and low and choose songs that are good for eating and conversation. Make sure your DJ has a list of events so they know when to turn things up or down and when to make announcements.