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The cutting of the wedding cake by the bride and groom is a traditional part of the wedding breakfast or reception. The tradition has its roots in Roman times when a wheat cake was crumbled over the bride's head to guarantee her fertility. A wedding cake should be cut just before the dessert is served at a luncheon or dinner reception, and just after the guests have been greeted at a later celebration or cocktail event. The groom normally places his right hand over the bride's right hand, and together they carefully cut into the bottom tier. Once the first slice has been removed, the groom should feed the bride her first bite before the bride does the same for her husband. This apparently symbolizes the willingness of the couple to share their lives.

After the bride and groom have completed their cake cutting ceremony, tradition requires the bride to cut and serve pieces for her parents. The groom should then follow suit by cutting and serving pieces for his parents. The remainder of the cake, or at least the bottom tier, is then cut by catering staff or volunteers and served to all guests. The superstitious believe that it is bad luck for a guest to leave a wedding reception without tasting the cake.

Given this tradition, which is rarely followed in its entirety, the photographer must try to capture the two or three principal moments. However, the cake should also be photographed in detail before the cutting begins. The essential shot is of course of the bride and groom cutting the first slice. Closer shots of the bride and groom feeding each other may also be possible. Two problems immediately present themselves. The photographer must find an interesting and unobtrusive background, and also sufficient light to get a decent shot.Since it is rarely possible to move the cake, the photographer must make the best of whatever backgrounds are available. Light levels may be low because receptions are commonly held later in the day or during the evening. The use of flash may therefore be unavoidable. Bouncing the flash off a reflector, or a white wall or ceiling, produces better results than using direct flash. Take care with the exposure, particularly if the cake is white, because white icing can be highly reflective and the detailed decoration on the cake may be lost.

It is often the case that numerous guests crowd around the cake when the cutting ceremony begins. Placing a tripod firmly in the prime position is therefore a good way of establishing a presence. It may also be necessary to ask other people to wait until you have taken a few shots before firing their own flashes. If guests move into your carefully arranged background, politely ask them to move. Finally, make sure that the bride and groom look only at your camera. Their eyes should not be allowed to wander towards other cameras.


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