What Is the Origin of the Wedding Cake Tradition?

Origin of the Wedding Cake Tradition

The tradition of the wedding cake dates back to as far as the ancient Romans, who would split apart a loaf of bread above the bride’s head, this wedding tradition offered good luck, happiness, and fertility. Guests would often collect the crumbs to share in the couple’s blessing. These ancient cake traditions were vitally important in Roman culture because only children whose parents took part in this ritual would be able to qualify for high office. And the Romans weren’t the only ones who covered the bride in baked goods. There have been reports of this tradition up until the 19th century in Scotland and a variation of this tradition is still somewhat going strong in northern parts of the world. However, now friends will place a napkin over the bride’s head before a basket of bread is poured over her so you should probably avoid getting married in Scotland if you have a wheat intolerance.

What About the Tradition of a Tiered Wedding Cake?

The bride and groom at medieval weddings would have to kiss over the towering tiers of tiny spiced buns. This was the first test as a newly married couple. If they successfully kissed without knocking over the fragile tower and sending the spiced buns tumbling, they were sure to have a happy life together. It is rumored on the streets of London that the tiered style of cake was created by a pastry chef William Rich between 1755 to 1812, modeling the design for his tiered wedding cake on the steeple of St Brides church in London. Making the structure sturdy wasn’t an easy feat, so the early tiered cake was constructed with short cuttings of broom handles, this then gave the cake its strong structure that’s needed for the multi-tiered wedding cake. Some chefs chose to make some of the tiers from spun sugar, this removed some of the weight but as icing became stronger these layers were replaced by heavy delicious cake.

These grand tiered wedding cakes quickly became a status symbol associated with royalty, the cake designed for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s wedding coined the phrase ‘royal icing’ with its pure white elegant design. This color symbolizes the purity of the bride. The brighter it is — the more expensive the ingredients are. Before the times of refrigeration and plastic wrap, cakes were often covered in lard to preserve the moisture in the cake and scraped off before eating. Later sugar was added to this to sweeten the lard and was subsequently left on the cake as ornamental icing. Traditionally the bride would cut the wedding cake alone, symbolizing the loss of her innocence, but as the cakes became more sophisticated the cake cutting became increasingly more difficult, which is why cutting the cake is now a duty commonly shared by brides and grooms.

Having cut the cake, couples can cue the adorable photo moments that follow, whether they sweetly feed each other the first bite, or the increasingly popular tradition of mushing cake or white frosting into each other’s face. It is highly recommended to have a discussion prior to your wedding day if you want to do the latter as a bride needs to prep. This modern tradition has actually been around for quite a while. In Yorkshire, for example, a bride would eat a tiny piece of cake and throw away the rest of it to show that she is satisfied with what she has and she doesn’t wish for anything else. However, some people would opt for a well-written speech.

What Is the Top of Wedding Cake Tradition?

The top tier of a couples wedding cake holds traditions of its own. In the 19th century, couples often were in the habit of saving the top tier of their wedding cake. The top layer being wrapped away until the birth of their first child, where it became the centerpiece for the christening of their first baby as it often followed soon after the couple’s marriage. As time has gone on, saving the top of the cake is still a popular tradition for newlywed couples; however, they often save it for their one-year wedding anniversary instead, as fruitcake can be stored away for quite a long time. Side note, if you are going to save it for your year anniversary, make sure that you use plastic wrap, this way you can avoid freezer burn, otherwise it might taste completely different from how it did when it went in. And the top tier isn’t the only cake that’s saved. Groom cakes became a popular addition to the wedding ceremony in the early 17th century and these would be distributed between the guests as a small favor to take home with them at the end of the day’s events, it was also a great way to let the guests know that it’s time to go home. It was thought that if a person slept with a piece of that small cake underneath their pillow that night that they would dream of their future husband.

You are free to choose whichever wedding traditions you embrace from the romantic and wonderful to the quirky and messy ones. Wedding cake traditions are still around so why not celebrate some on your special day, you never know, it might be fun.