Traditions are an important part of the wedding day. This includes traditions such as the couple not seeing one another until the wedding day, the couple exchanging wedding vows during the ceremony, and the couple having their first dance during the reception. The reception itself has many of its own unique traditions for couples. A tradition most couples take advantage of is when they cut the wedding cake. Below, we dive into must-take wedding cake photos and instructions for you to use during your shoots.
Wedding Cake Photos
The wedding cake is a tradition that has spanned centuries and is a significant moment between the bride and groom. According to Maisie Fantasie, creator of award-winning wedding cakes in the UK:
“Around 1900 years ago the Romans began baking wheat and salt into small cakes to be eaten. During the ceremony the groom would eat part of a loaf of this barley bread and then he would break the rest over his bride’s head. This was taken as a sign of good fortune and a blessing for long life and many children. The guests would try and obtain a crumb for themselves as they too believed they would then share in the good fortune and future prosperity of the couple.”
Though time has passed and there have been changes to this tradition, most couples still take part in cutting the wedding cake and it is a memorable part of their big day.
Here at ShootDotEdit, we specialize in wedding photography editing, so we see quite a few images of wedding cakes from photographers. We also connect with wedding pros and industry leaders to find out which images from the wedding day are the most important to capture. So you can document images your couple will love, and ones you can use on your website and blog, we put together a list of 7 must-have photos to take.
1. Taking a Solo Shot
Just as the bride and groom have picked their first dance song or the type of food to serve at the reception, they spent time on the type of cake and design it will have. One wedding cake photo you can take is to capture a solo shot of it before the reception kicks off and the cake is cut. This photo helps tell the wedding day story. It also showcases the unique style your couple has and how they implemented it into their wedding day.
There are a few ways to take advantage of this solo shot. Start by shooting from the front so the photos show the layers in the cake and all of the details the couple chose for it. Take a few photos far away, as Danny Dong Photography did in the image example below. This will provide an overview of the cake and its location. In the example below, the cake is sitting on a table in the reception hall. There are cupcakes and other decorations to enhance the look of the table. Behind the cake table is uplighting and you can see the details of the location, such as the large windows, drapes, and ceiling design.
Think about when you capture the first dance; you mix up your shooting angles to ensure you capture the bride and groom’s separate emotions. Apply the same to the wedding cake. Another wedding cake photo you can take is when you switch up your angle and capture the sides and the back of it. This will provide you with a variety of images, which helps to tell a complete wedding story for your couple.
Use a long focal lens, such as a 200mm, to capture the cake and its details. This will help you to make the cake the prominent subject and will showcase the accurate proportions of it. You can also blur the background if needed and still make the wedding cake the main focus.
Also, just as you prepare for other parts of the wedding day with your couple, try to prepare as much as possible for the cake photos. The location of the cake in the reception room is a crucial aspect of creating unforgettable images. See if your couple can talk with their wedding coordinator and find out where the cake will be located. You may want to also educate them on things you look for when you are shooting, and things you try to avoid. The venue may already think of these things, but ideally, the cake should be in a location with a complementary background and lighting scenario. Other things to share with your clients so they can reiterate to the venue is to place the cake in a location where there are no distracting windows, signs (such as an exit sign), or light switches or plugs.
This may not be possible for every wedding you shoot, but for some, it can help you seamlessly shoot and capture the wedding cake photos your couple will love.
2. Capturing Close Up Details
After you take a few photos far away, take some close up. This will showcase the layers, as mentioned above, and the intricate details of the cake. Perhaps they have a traditional cake topper of a bride and groom holding hands, or maybe it’s a nod to the groom’s favorite video game or is the couple’s initials. Also, are there designs on the cake, such as flowers, bows, or symbols? These are the details to capture close up so your couple can remember the choices they made for this moment.
If needed, use a macro lens to capture the intricate details of the wedding cake.
Another tip to help you capture stunning shots of the wedding cake up close is to be mindful of your position. The cake should be the most important part of the image, so the angle and position are important aspects of this. Position yourself so you are at eye level with the cake. You can still incorporate other details into the shot, and keep the rule of thirds intact, while in this position. The key here is you make the cake the focus in the images you take.
3. Including Other Details
Since you already took a solo shot of the cake and captured its details, take photos of the details that assist with the cake cutting. These include the knife, plates, and napkins. Similar to their choice in cake flavor and design, the couple may purchase (or borrow) these items to match their overall theme of the wedding. If the couple had anything engraved, make sure you capture this close up so it showcases their (and your) attention to detail.
As you shoot all of the images from the wedding day, keep in mind the shots your couple will love, but also ones an editor will want to publish. Detail shots are popular among publications, so pay close attention to the intricate details of the wedding day.
4. Standing with the Cake
Before the couple follows the tradition of cutting the cake, have them pose next to it. Position them on the left or the right side of the cake, and have them embrace one another. This photo contributes to the wedding story and allows them to have another image of the cake they chose. For a fun twist on a wedding cake photo, take a shot of the couple and their cake in the background as you pose them. If their cake topper is of a bride and groom, have them pose in the same position for a shot.
Talk with your clients beforehand about this part of the reception. As you plan out the rest of the day with them and discuss their wedding timeline, let them know you would like to have a few minutes with them in front of the cake before the festivities begin. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be for you to capture the images your couple will love. Also, it will not come as a surprise to them when you pull them away from their guests to snap these photos.
5. Cutting the Cake
While their family and friends watch, the bride and groom stand together to cut one piece of cake. Similar to the first dance, this symbolizes a significant moment for them as husband and wife. Document this as the couple grabs the knife to slice the first piece of cake. They will likely hold the knife and cut together, so you (or your second shooter) can get a few close-up shots to showcase this. Often times, couples may not know the best way to cut the cake, so this can result in a few funny and candid moments between them.
If time permits, set up a shot of the cake with the missing slice next to it. This will show a close up of the outside of the cake and what it looks like as a slice.
Be mindful of the uplighting in the room, especially if you plan to use flash to capture these images. The images from the wedding cake cutting, as well as from the entire reception, should be consistent with your unique photography style. If you do decide to use flash, light from the side to ensure the light and dark areas highlight the cake in the best way possible. You can also use a gel or grid that helps you spice up the background and assist with the flash if needed.
6. Feeding Cake to One Another
Once the piece of cake is cut and on the plate, the couple now takes turns feeding one another. If you have a second shooter, be sure to have them focus on the groom while you focus on the bride. Shots of both of them during this moment are great, but there will also be looks of anticipation and excitement, as they don’t know if the other person is going to nicely feed the cake or smash it into their face. Whichever moment happens, make sure you capture it so the couple can look back at these images and have fond memories of the moment.
The photos from the reception can often have conflicting light. Practice your reception lighting skills to ensure you deliver images your clients will love, and ones that are consistent with your unique photography style. You can also send your photos to a post production photography company so the images can be consistent when you send them to your clients.
7. Serving Cake to Guests
After the cake cutting is over, the guests get to take part in trying the cake. As the cake reaches the tables, before people sit down to eat, capture a few photos of the slices on the table. You have already shot the cake as a whole, so you can now get a unique perspective on the inside of it. If you have the time, take a few shots of the cake pieces with the table decor. This just gives another photo option for the couple to add to their wedding day story.
Whenever possible throughout the reception, capture the wedding cake in your images. You can capture candid shots of the couple or guests with the cake in the background. Once the cake is cut, you can also take candid shots of the guests eating and interacting with the cake on their tables or in their hands. This adds some non-posed shots of the cake into the images, which enhances the overall story of the wedding day.
When you take the time to share the details of the wedding day through your photos, you provide your couple with memories for years to come. The wedding cake photos are not the only ones you need to capture throughout the day, though. Download our 127 Essential Wedding Images You Must Capture Guide to discover the images you should focus on during the wedding day. Click the banner below to grab your free photography playbook to study for your next wedding shoot!