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  • Writer's pictureHannahDuffyIWC

Wedding Cake Traditions

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A beautiful wedding cake has been a tradition at weddings dating back to the Roman and Medieval times. Back then a stack of buns was often used instead of some of the magnificent cakes you find today, but the symbolism of the cake is still the same. Over time many traditions have been created surrounding the cake and it remains an important aspect of many weddings.

Traditions include in Roman times guests breaking the cake over the brides head, or in Medieval times throwing the wedding cake at the bride. This was for good luck and fertility. Guests would then gather any crumbs they could find of the cake and take these home as a token of good luck.

Superstitions from Medieval times influenced tiered cakes. It became customary to stack as many cakes, scones and buns as possible. The couple would then have to kiss over the tower without it falling. This was believed to give the couple a life of prosperity.

Custom cakes can reflect you and what you love. This could be choosing unique flavours that are special to you or coordinate with the bridal bouquet and wedding theme or choose a style and design that reflects you both including cake toppers and finishes.

Cutting the Cake

This tradition has now largely become a photo opportunity at weddings whilst the couple hand in hand cut the cake as one of the first acts as a married couple together.

Historically the bride would cut the cake alone to symbolise the loss of her virginity. Cakes began to include fruit as a symbol of fertility and having the bride cut and serve the cake to guests would ensure her fertility.

The cake cutting over the years brought new traditions as cakes became larger and multi-tiered as the numbers of guests began to rise. Traditions changed over time and the groom joined the bride to cut the cake joining hands around the knife to cut the first slice of the cake together.

Saving the Top Tier

Tradition arose that the top tier wedding cake would be kept by the bride and groom for after their wedding day. This would usually be kept for either the couple’s first anniversary or the christening of their first child. Of course this was when tradition was fruit cake as this would save for a long time to come.

Feeding each other cake

Once the cake is cut the couple can feed each other a small piece, this traditionally symbolises commitment to provide for one another and a show of love and affection.

This custom has now evolved greatly and in some cases the cake is gently smashed in each other’s faces which as many will say is not the romantic gesture this tradition was originally created for. Many also enjoy this moment though and see it as a special moment where you can be silly and have fun with your partner.

Sleeping with a piece of cake under your pillow

This custom dates back around 300 years where the bride would sleep with a piece of wedding cake under her pillow and this would bring dreams of her newlywed partner that night.

This tradition has evolved to the of gift of wedding favours which the bride can then place under her pillow as a much cleaner solution as cakes are often no longer fruit and can include lots of frosting which can become very messy!

Wedding Cake Charms

During the early 1800’s it became tradition to hide gold or silver charms inside the wedding cake. Each charm baked into the cake would have a special meaning and a different kind of luck that would fall on the guest who receives it.

This had then been changed slightly to have charms pushed into the cake with ribbon attached making it much safer for guests to easily be seen and pulled out.

Meaning of each charm:

  • Wedding bells: Marriage

  • Ring: upcoming Engagement

  • Heart: True Love

  • Wishing Well: Wishes Coming True

  • Highchair: Children

  • Clover or Horseshoe: Good Luck

  • Rocking Chair: Long Life

  • Anchor: Adventure

  • Flower: New Love

  • Purse: Good Fortune

The Groom’s Cake

Early American weddings would have a cake specifically for the groom and many southern states still use this tradition to this day. The groom’s cake is usually a different flavour to the main wedding cake. This is either served as a second flavour at the wedding reception or is used at the rehearsal dinner. The cake will usually be decorated to reflect the groom’s hobbies and interests such as golfing, fishing, or their favourite sports.

White wedding cakes

In Victorian times white icing would be seen as a symbol of wealth and social importance. Therefore, a white cake was always highly desired. The fine white sugar which is used to create white icing was extremely expensive, therefore the lighter the cake, the wealthier the family would appear to all their guests.

Many brides today will create cakes to match the theme and style of their wedding or to match the colour's and intricate detail of the brides wedding dress.

As traditionally the main wedding cake was often referred to as the bride’s cake, this cake was white to honour the bride’s purity.

There are so many options now to either keep with traditions or alternative options, instead of a stack of buns you can have a stack of cupcakes, donuts or macrons, flavours, colours and styles all vary so ensure to reflect what is important to you both and bring together the unity of your marriage in your wedding cake.

For ideas and inspirations click here: Wedding Cakes


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