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Wedding Cake Traditions

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Wedding Cake Traditions
Used Under License from iStock

A gorgeous wedding cake is often the centerpiece of a wedding and usually sits in a place of honor. This carefully planned confection is a longstanding tradition dating back to Roman and Medieval times. Back then a stack of buns was used instead of a multi-level culinary masterpiece but the symbolism was generally the same. Over the centuries there have been many traditions created surrounding the cake and it still remains an important aspect of any wedding. So take the time to plan this cake to reflect the couple and keep in mind all the various customs created around wedding cakes.

Cutting the Cake

This charming tradition is one of those picture opportunities that graces every wedding album along with the first dance and bouquet tossing. The cake cutting represents the first activity done as a couple although historically the bride did this act alone to symbolize the loss of her virginity. Cake cutting became a more complicated process as cakes became multi-tiered and guests numbered in the hundreds. These days the bride requires the groom's assistance and usually they do not cut the entire cake up but instead leave that duty to the caterer.

Groom's Cake

Early American weddings had groom's cakes and the Southern USA continues to perpetuate this wedding tradition. Many modern weddings have resurrected the tradition of this cake to showcase the groom's hobbies, tastes and even their favourite sports teams. Groom's cakes are usually chocolate to contrast the actual wedding cake although any flavour is acceptable.

Saving the Top Tier

Most couples cannot resist saving the top tier of their wedding cake to eat on their first anniversary or even christening ceremony. Christenings in the past were often within a year of the wedding so this made perfect sense. Now most couples are more likely to create a small cake eating ceremony around their first anniversary. As refrigeration became more advanced this practice actually gained some merit. A well wrapped cake can easily survive a year in the deep freeze without too much damage as long as the cake has no mousse layers or delicate fresh fruit fillings. Sharing this small cake is a charming reminder of a special day.

Sleeping with Piece of Cake under the Pillow

It is thought that a person sleeping with a piece of wedding cake under their pillow will dream of their future partner that night. This custom dates back almost three hundred years and is often practically combined with wedding favors being tiny perfect replicas of the wedding cake. Cakes in modern times are sometimes not as firm as the traditional fruitcake used in the past so having it under a pillow could get messy! A favor in a box is a much neater solution.

Bride and Groom Feeding Each Other Cake

The second act of the traditional cake cutting ceremony is when the bride and groom feed each other a small bite of cake. This can be very romantic and sweet symbolizing a commitment to provide for one another and show love or affection. Unfortunately this custom has evolved in some cases to the couple grinding the cake into their partner's face. Unless each person agrees beforehand to participate in this type of show it is best to stick with simple feeding.

Charms in Cake

The custom of baking charms into wedding cakes is a longstanding one which has fallen into disuse. It is absolutely delightful tradition to try as long as you warn the guests to be careful and remove their charm before eating the cake! A more practical variation is pushing the charms into a baked cake with a ribbon attached so the guest can simply pull the charm out.

There are several charms that are used traditionally and their meanings are:

  • Heart: true love
  • Ring: upcoming engagement
  • Wishing Well: wishes coming true
  • Highchair: children
  • Clover or horseshoe: good luck
  • Rocking Chair: long life
  • Anchor: adventure
  • Flower: new love
  • Purse: good fortune
  • Wedding Bells: marriage
  • White Wedding Cake

    Wedding cakes can be any color but most people still feel the base color beyond the decorations should be white. White is of course the color of purity and traditionally this cake was referred to as the "bride's cake". The white of the cake was simply a representation of the bride as the main focal point of the wedding. Many brides today mimic this continuity by creating cakes in the same hue as their dress or bouquet. White icing was also a symbol of money and social importance in Victorian times so a white can was highly desired. The fine white sugar needed to create white icing was extremely expensive so the lighter the cake the more wealthy the family would appear to their guests.

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