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White Wedding CakeWhen it comes to wedding customs, one of the most common is the wedding cake. Almost as iconic as the white bridal gown, this dessert is often white, layered, multitiered, and decorated to the nines. In many receptions, the cutting of this cake is a major moment, as is the newlyweds sharing first bites. Are you thinking about a cake for your upcoming nuptials? Let’s take a closer look at this classic element of marriage ceremonies all over the world.

Looking Back

While the concept of a wedding cake likely originated in Ancient Greece, several cultural traditions have led to what’s generally recognized as the modern dessert. In the 1500s and 1600s, a savory bride’s pie was served at most weddings. Guests were expected to eat a piece, and sometimes a glass ring was buried for discovery by a maiden. Similar to traditions involving a bouquet or garter, a woman who discovered the ring would be the next to marry.

In the 1600s, wedding cakes were associated with luxury thanks to white sugar being expensive and difficult to come by, especially for making white cakes with white frosting. In medieval England, cakes were stacked as high as possible for a couple to kiss over as part of the celebration. Tiered cakes grew in popularity after the marriage of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, in the late 1800s. This cake used pillars and dense icing in its construction, classic elements of the modern wedding-day dessert.

Analyzing Symbolism and Superstition

As with other marriage elements such as rings and gowns, there is symbolism attached to the cake. The classic white appearance is associated with purity, similar to the dress and indicative of a bride being pure and dedicated to a groom. In China, the bottom layers of the cake are cut and served to the oldest family members first. This is how a couple pays tribute to their ancestors as the foundation of their families.

Superstition is also a part of the cake tradition in various cultures. In some American traditions, unmarried women are invited to pull ribbons from the bottom layer of the cake. The person who pulls the ribbon containing a charm or small ring will be the next to get married. Some people eat crumbs for good luck. In other cultures, pieces of cake are broken over the bride for fertility and good fortune. Many couples will freeze the top layer of a cake to eat later at their first anniversary or at the birth of their first child for good luck.

Having the Groom’s Cake (and Eating It Too)

At many weddings, the grand dessert is considered the bride’s cake. It’s usually a white or yellow cake covered in white frosting or fondant. At some receptions, especially in the American South, a smaller, darker groom’s cake is also served. In modern traditions, this dessert is chocolate or a different flavor than that of the bride’s, usually according to the groom’s preferences. This tradition descended from English weddings, where a liquor-soaked fruitcake was provided as an alternative. 

Choosing the Right Dessert

Deciding on the details is an important part of the planning process. Your cake should be something you, your partner, and your guests enjoy. Everyone likes good cake, so consider these tips:

  • Buy a cake from a pastry chef, baker, or caterer with a proven track record of delivering beautiful and delicious desserts.
  • Always sample options to make sure you’ve paired the right flavors and textures.
  • Select a frosting that will hold up with the weather and temperature if you’ll be celebrating outdoors.
  • Consider dietary restrictions and food sensitivities, such as dairy, gluten, soy, and eggs.

Wedding cakes are a special part of a special day. There are a wide variety of customs and traditions associated with this sweet treat. You have a lot of choices and options when it comes to incorporating this dessert into your nuptials.

Category: Wedding Planning

wedding cake

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