The cake smash: a messy, raucous wedding trend that suggests trouble ahead

July 26, 2023

Among the Tujia people of Zhangjiajie, China, brides traditionally cry for an hour a day the month before their wedding, according to Zhangjiajie Tour Club. What’s more, the Insider reports, in the final days leading up to the wedding, a bride’s mother, grandmother, and sisters join in the crying too.

But that’s nothing compared to a Western tradition that continues to be a “smash hit” at many ceremonies, notes The Guardian.

Name: The Cake Smash.

Age: Ancient, allegedly.

Appearance: A messy, affectionate harbinger of doom.

What is a cake smash? It’s the act of smashing cake into someone’s face.

When would such a thing happen? At a wedding. The bride and groom smash cake into each other’s faces.

How awful. And I thought my wedding was a car crash because my uncle punched a waiter. The cake smash is meant to be a lovely, playful tradition. It’s getting pretty popular too, especially on TikTok: the #cakesmash hashtag has had more than 449 million views.

So how did it start? Hard to say. At ancient Roman weddings, barley cakes were crumbled over the bride’s head for good luck. This evolved into the throwing of crumbs; and then later still, rice.

I don’t see the connection. There probably isn’t one. It is more likely the modern cake smash is just a prankish offshoot of the tradition of the bride and groom feeding each other cake as a symbol of trust.

So, a symbol of mistrust, in other words. You’re not wrong. According to UK-based TV psychologist Dr Becky Spelman, a nonconsensual wedding cake smash could spell trouble for the couple’s future. “The act could potentially highlight issues related to control, disrespect, or disregard for boundaries,” she told

It is also a complete waste of cake. Not to mention the ruined clothes, hair, and makeup, along with the prospect of being sticky for the whole night.

It must be a health and safety nightmare, too. It can be. One bride gave her husband a bloody nose, although it is generally the groom going overboard.

Does anyone have a good word to say about cake smashing? Not really. Wedding planners frown on it, etiquette experts disapprove, and there are loads of cautionary cake-smash-gone-wrong videos on TikTok.

Those I will watch. Some end up involving the whole cake. Honestly, it is amazing that these people stay married for the rest of the reception.

Any other time-honored wedding traditions worth dumping? The bouquet being tossed to the single women in attendance is thankfully on its way out.

I didn’t know anyone still did that. Likewise, modern wedding trends are moving away from garter tossing, long speeches, balloon arches, registries filled with domestic appliances, and fireworks.

Are any of those an accurate predictor of future problems? Not as accurate as a big fat cake in the face, no.

Do say: “Instead of the traditional cake smash, my husband and I will be recreating the climactic routine from Dirty Dancing.”

Don’t say: “And then we’re going to re-enact a fight scene from Kill Bill.”

Research contact: @guardian