Assuming there are any leftovers, that is.

By Laura Miller
June 22, 2021
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At the end of your wedding reception, the last thing you'll want to think about are details. In the same way that you'll have a plan in place for handing out tips, packing up cards and gifts, and clearing out décor, you'll want to think about what you'll do with any leftover wedding cake long before the big day. Assuming you've ordered properly, there shouldn't be much cake left at the end of the wedding, our experts agree; however, if you decided you wanted to save the top tier of your wedding or if fewer guests indulged in dessert than you anticipated, here's what you need to know.

Consider alternatives to saving the top tier.

Do couples still save the top tier of their wedding cake? That would depend on who you ask. Some wedding planners still embrace this tradition, and they'll help you work with your baker to order enough extra cake and provide instructions on wrapping the top tier at the end of the night. If you're doing this, it should be handed off to someone who can be responsible for getting it home and in the freezer as soon as possible.

There are alternatives, though. "Bakers nowadays offer a complimentary one-year anniversary cake!" says Misty Damico, owner and creative director of Luxe Event Productions. "This way it's as fresh as the wedding day was."

See if local food banks or shelters can accept leftovers.

Your first instinct might be to donate leftover cake, and while it's a wonderful idea to give any excess meals or dessert to local food banks or shelters, it's generally consider to be a health code violation in most cities due to the amount of time food was sitting out at the reception; other locations may only accept food that has been sealed. But that doesn't mean you can't try. Be sure to inquire with a few local charities well before the wedding day, and if they will accept leftovers, make a plan for pickup or delivery.

Send leftovers home with guests or vendors.

If you can't donate the leftovers, send guests home with any extra slices. Talk to your caterer and let them know that you want to box up extra cake; they should be able to recommend boxes or containers that'll fit the bill. It'll be a delicious late-night snack.

And don't forget about your vendors! It's common courtesy to offer them dessert during the reception itself, but since they may be too busy to enjoy a slice, consider sending them home with something sweet to enjoy once they're off the clock. Paired with a thoughtful note, this is a great way to express your gratitude.

Talk to your baker beforehand to ensure you order the right amount of cake.

Want to avoid leftovers entirely? Communicate that fact to your baker. If you're nervous about having too much dessert, try to plan for one slice per guest. If you're also planning to serve additional desserts, like cookies, ice cream, or pie, you can generally assume guests will eat even less.

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