Weddings are full of traditions. Whatever the family background or the cultural influences in the wedding, I can bet that the one thing they all have in common is that there will be at least one tradition present on the big day.
There are tea-drinking ceremonies, the giving away of the bride, Mehndi tattoos or crushing glasses or the giving of rings and wedding speeches. Even weddings that embrace the “anti-wedding” or “un-wedding” theme, with a relaxed style, normally still feature a first dance and a wedding cake.
The root of wedding customs is rich in history. Even the tradition of a wedding cake dates from pre-18th century.
One of the first was in Ancient Rome where the cake – in this case special barley like bread, was broken over the bride’s head by the groom. This was to symbolise the end of her maiden life and to assert her husband’s power over her! It was meant to bring luck and fortune but I am pleased to say we have come on a bit in the wedding cake stakes since then. I’ve not met any brides that would happily have a whole cake broken over her head yet. That said, there seems to be a modern tradition, particularly in America, where the bride and groom feed each other the cake and then smash it into each other’s faces! Maybe an evolution of the cake over the head tradition?
The Croquembouche, which is still a popular wedding cake choice, particularly in France, was borne from a tradition in England in the Middle Ages. Then cakes were piled up as high as possible for the bride and groom to kiss over and a successful kiss – successful meaning passionate – meant they would have a happy and rich life together.
In the 17th century it was popular to have a bride’s cake and a groom’s cake… Originally the bride’s cake was a plum or a fruitcake – the fruitcake was because it was a sign of fertility and prosperity. This evolved over time, as traditions often do, and the groom’s cake became the fruitcake and the bride’s cake was a white pound cake – white to symbolise purity.
This sounds more like the cakes we see today but it was actually the royal wedding of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, in 1882 that introduced the concept of a completely edible cake which was for the whole wedding party to enjoy. Would you believe before then, often cakes were not even edible let alone tasty.
Today, mostly we are not confined to the same strict protocols and rules that society dictated and wedding cakes take many exciting flavours and designs.
Here’s a few of the show-stopping cakes I’ve had the pleasure of creating for happy couples:
Blue marble wedding cake – A very modern wedding cake with a marbled fondant effect with edible gold leaf. The sphere topper featuring individual sugar ruffles creates real impact.
That’s not to say there aren’t more recent wedding cake traditions or trends and in some ways the wedding cake has become even more important as it takes a centrepiece role.
Traditionally the top tier of a wedding cake was saved for the christening of a couple’s first child. This isn’t really a tradition that has stood the test of time and isn’t relevant for many of today’s couples. I do find that couples ask for fruitcake in the top tier but this is to save for their return from their honeymoon or their first anniversary.
Saving the top tier for your first anniversary is a great opportunity to relive your wedding day with close family friends. If you choose to do this, ensure that you seek advice from your cake designer as to the best way to store your cake for the year.
I hope you’ve found this post interesting and if any of the cakes featured here take your fancy or you would like to discuss your wedding cake requirements, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.