The cake-cutting traditionally happens after the first dance, roughly near the middle or end of the reception. And why do the bride and groom smash cake in each others’ faces? Originally, the groom broke the cake over his bride’s head! As cakes got bigger, that custom ended, and the bride was expected to cut the cake and serve it to guests alone. Now, the groom is supposed to “help” the bride, making the cake-cutting the symbolic first act they do as a married couple.