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The timing of when a couple cuts the wedding cake can have a specific meaning. Long ago, the cake was usually cut at the very end of the reception and would signal to the guests that it was the end of the festivities. Today, cutting the cake is an unspoken signal that represents that the formal wedding is nearing a close, and guests who would like to leave can do so without worry of being rude. Many couples will cut the cake right after dinner as a courtesy to older guests who may want to get started on their trips home. This affords them the chance to make an earlier exit, rather than staying through the dancing that could extend into the wee hours of the night or missing the cake entirely. Cutting the cake mid-reception also serves another practical purpose for couples who are paying a photographer by the hour. Photographers typically go home after the cake-cutting, so a mid-reception cutting can save couples a substantial amount of money.