The home of UK weddings

09 June 2014

Wedding Cake Traditions

Wedding CakeWedding cakes have been part of the marriage ceremony since people began getting married. It is fair to say that its original form and its current one have changed somewhat over the years.

A Little Cake History

The Romans seem to have started it all around 100BC when salt and wheat were the ingredients for small cakes. These would have resembled a biscuit or perhaps a bread roll. At the appropriate point of the ceremony the groom was required to consume a portion of this cake and break what remained over his bride's head. This was to entreat good fortune and blessings for a long life. In medieval times this changed a little when small wheat cakes were thrown at the "lucky" bride! Later on these cakes began to be stacked near the newlyweds with the stack being an indication of prosperity and wealth according to its height. Later still the idea developed to a neat stack of cakes that were iced together. It was in the latter part of the 17th century when a French chef who was travelling through England encountered this tradition. He was so aggrieved by the cake piling ritual that he came up with the idea of building them into a solidly stacked structure. This elaborate, tiered cake would need to be prepared well in advance and would be iced with lard to stop it drying out. Before serving, the lard was removed, but this soon evolved into adding sugar to the lard so it could remain on the cake. Those with a bit less money would have to settle for a "bride's pie", which was made with sweetbreads or mince and had a glass ring inside. It was thought that whoever found the ring would be the next lady to be married. The 18th century saw rich fruit cakes and marzipan replace this. Later still, in the 19th century, the idea of sending a slice of cake to people not able to attend increased the size of the cakes and the amount of tiers produced.

It's All About the Icing...

Originally, white icing was used to signify purity, as with the bride's white dress, but also fertility, which is often why wedding cakes featured flowers and fruit. It was also a sign of affluence in earlier times, as only the best quality refined sugar would be able to produce the desired effect. Of course, icing colours today are many and varied and often chosen to coordinate with an overall colour scheme. It is also popular to have a cake that has been designed or made as a one off rather than a traditional style cake.

Have Your Cake...

The cutting of the cake is the first thing a bride and groom do together after being married and sharing that first bite means that the newly married couple vow to share everything in their life from that moment on. Other traditions surrounding wedding cakes include bridesmaids keeping a slice under their pillows, believing that they will dream of their husbands to be and keeping the cake's top tier for the christening of the first child. Nowadays, this is more often used for the couple's first anniversary. It was also popular to place charms in the wedding cakes, which had various meanings. Whether you choose a traditional fruit, an indulgent chocolate or an extravagant profiterole creation, it doesn't really matter so much as the person you choose to eat it with.

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