Wedding Cake History and Traditions

Wedding Cake, Before by Afroswede, on Flickr

Modern wedding cakes come in a vast array of shapes, sizes and flavours. The wedding cake is an ancient tradition, that has always been one of the most important aspects of the wedding ceremony. Looking to history, we learn that the wedding cake originated in Roman and Greek culture – but, it wasn’t always the same sweet, beautifully decorated offering that we’re accustomed to today. In ancient times the “cake” was more akin to what we would recognise as a hearty grain bread. It was believed that the ingredients – specifically wheat – symbolised life, fertility, and abundance; all things a pair of newlyweds, even today, hope to experience. In the ancient ceremony, the groom would break the wedding cake over the brides head, whereas today the couple cuts their cake together, and then serve each other a bite to symbolise their new life together as a wedded couple.

In Medieval times, the rustic bread was replaced with rolls and buns that were stacked and arranged together, with the customary belief being that if the couple could kiss over the stack without disturbing it they would be blessed with prosperity and children. In the seventeenth century, a baker in France used a frosting of sugar to help the arrangement hold its form, and this was the first glimpse of our modern, traditional wedding cake.

The tradition of enjoying a piece of wedding cake together on the first anniversary is a historical one, as well. While today the top tier of wedding cake is saved and frozen to be eaten on the anniversary, in the eighteenth century the wedding cake was a dense and rich fruit cake that would be preserved by soaking in some variety of alcohol and then consumed on the anniversary. It was believed that if the wedding cake began to crumble before the occasion of the first anniversary, that the marriage would stand in danger of crumbling, too.

The bride’s cake is the most common type of wedding cake, as opposed to groom’s cake, which is usually more simple, and acts as a supplement for the more elaborate brides cake. Most bride cakes chosen by the bride are tall-tiered cakes with flowers and fruits. Most groom cakes are fruit cakes which traditionally were brought home by single female wedding guests, so they would “dream of their future husbands”.

Most brides cakes were decorated by the bride as a reflection of her decorating style. It could, for instance, have custom- made figurines on the top tier, a set of sugar flowers or fruits in season. For flower designs usually a bride can opt to lay it on the top of the cake or have it cascade around the tiers for a more ornate look. It can have the romantic appeal with one unifying motif. Choosing and decorating your wedding cake may be easy but you should consider adding brandy if you wish to preserve your cake according to the tradition. You can opt to shop for spices, fruits and flowers ahead of the time; or have a florist coordinate with you. For many soon-to-be-wedded couples it might also be easier to borrow or hire a cake stand if you would like a multiple-tiered cake.

Buy wedding cakes two months in advance; this is to assure you that you will get exactly what you have ordered. There are expensive cakes but if you are low on the budget there are ways to reduce the price of fancy wedding cakes. Check out the local bakeshops and consult with two or three bakers to get information on the prices and styles of wedding cakes. You can get a great deal for a wedding cake by asking for pictures of the recently designed cakes (those created by their current cake decorators) and getting a free taste. Do not forget that the taste of the cake matters just as well as its fancy design.

Lastly, when selecting your wedding cake, your own preferences matter but you can always be open to suggestions offered by an expert baker.

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