At it's core, virtually every wedding is a compilation of cultural traditions intended to bring blessings to the newlywed couple and symbolize their love for one another. Although there are many things that are incorporated simply because "it's what you do" it is important to know why we are attached to some of our wedding customs.
The cake cutting ceremony is easily one of the most popular traditions, and perhaps the most anticipated event at any wedding reception. As one of the last activities leading up to the send-off, the cutting of cake is a tradition that embodies matrimonial commitment and allows the bride groom to share a final treat with their guests.
The presence of a cake at the reception, let alone the symbolic cake cutting ceremony, originates from a Roman tradition in which the groom would break bread over his bride's head and share the crumbs with their guests as a sign of sustenance and good fortune. Over time, breaking bread evolved into cutting cake although the symbolism remains. As the bride and groom stand together, they begin one of their firsts acts as a married couple. The bride holds the knife and the groom places his hand gently over hers as a symbol of support and guidance. They then move together to cut and remove the cake slices. Next, the couple take turns feeding each other. The groom goes first to show his commitment to provide for his bride who feeds her new husband as a symbol of her commitment to nourish him. Once the bride and groom have fed each other, they then share their wedding cake with their guests as a gesture of good luck and affection.
There are several superstitions that surround the cake cutting ceremony as well. One modern superstition points to a correlation between the size of the slices of cake that the bride and groom cut to the number of children that they will have. Another older superstition says that if unmarried female guests take their slice of cake home and sleep with it under their pillow, they will dream of their husband that night - though it is likely that not many participate in this one.
In addition to serving as a symbol of commitment and good fortune, the cake cutting ceremony serves as a great photo opportunity and marks the time in the evening at which it is deemed appropriate for guests to choose to make their departure.