There are a lot of traditions around weddings; just consider the popular saying, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” I’m sure a dozen others come to mind, too! In fact, there are so many wedding traditions that there are even some centered around the wedding cake alone. Which of these do you want to be a part of your big day?
Everyone knows that the traditional white wedding dress is supposed to symbolize purity and innocence, but what about a traditional white wedding cake? The reason wedding cakes used to always be white was more out of convenience, since sugar is white and cake icing is made from sugar. As time went on, extremely white icing became a status symbol for the wealthy, since the whiter the frosting the more refinied, and therefore the more expensive, the sugar. Of course, now wedding cakes come in all different colors, but this tradition still holds strong.
Ever wonder why wedding cakes have so many tiers? Part of the reason is to have lots of cake to serve to guests, but there’s also a history lesson in there. In the medieval times, spiced buns would be stacked as high as possible. If the bride and groom could kiss over this giant pile of pastries without knocking it over, they would have a lifetime of wealth to look forward to. Of course, piles of pastries eventually became tiered cakes. But the dessert tower is actually also making a comeback these days as towers of cupcakes or as more classic, cultural desserts like the French croquembouche cream puffs.
Cutting the Cake
At many weddings, the bride and groom will gather their friends and family to witness them cut the wedding cake. This tradition is considered a special moment, as the newly wed couple complete their first task together. However, this task used to be the bride’s alone, as it symbolized her losing her virginity. As wedding cakes became bigger and more elaborate, brides had to start getting help from their husbands. Now, this is a much-anticipated activity at the wedding reception. It offers an adorable photo opportunity and delicious cake is served!
Feeding Each Other and the Cake Smash
Once the cake is cut, it’s time to eat it! But first, the bride and groom traditionally feed each other a bite. This cute kindness is a sweet symbol of commitment for one another, showing their love and adoration. This tradition has actually evolved into something new in recent generations—squishing cake into one each other’s faces! While not all couples are into this one, it’s a fun, silly, modern take on the tradition.
Wedding cake toppers have a long tradition, although its origins aren’t exactly known. But, as the story goes, the figurines stand in the center of the top tier to show the importance of the love between the bride and groom.
Saving the Top Tier
Decades ago, married couples typically had children much younger than they do today. In fact, many couples would have their first child within their first year of marriage. And so, the top tier of their wedding cake would be saved for that child’s christening. Now, couples still choose to save the top layer of their wedding cake to enjoy together on their one-year anniversary. To do this successfully, it’s important that it is well wrapped in plastic and then sealed inside an airtight container. To keep it looking perfect, however, the cake should be placed in the freezer just long enough to freeze so it won’t smudge, and then wrapped once it’s frozen. Some bakeries have taken to offering small anniversary cakes to replace this tradition, as many couples opt out in order to spare themselves the trouble. That way, you can have your cake and eat it, too!
The Groom’s Cake
The exact origins of this tradition are debated, but the groom cake has long been a mainstay at weddings in the southern United States. Groom cakes are usually made of a dark chocolate cake to contrast with the traditional white cake, but these days they are treated as a place to showcase individuality and personality. This tradition is making a comeback and growing in popularity as well as spreading to other areas.
Sleeping with Cake Under the Pillow
Back in the day, single people looking to find true love would put a piece of wedding cake under their pillow because they believed if they did, they would dream about their future partner that night. This tradition is almost 300 years old now, from a time when pieces of the groom’s cake would be given out as wedding favors.
Wedding Cake Charms
This cute little tradition is actually used during bridal showers, but since bridal showers are another wedding tradition, it makes sense to share it here, too.
The tradition dictates that gold or silver charms are baked right into the cake or laid underneath the bottom layer. Each charm has a special meaning, so when the guests finds theirs, they each receive that specific luck. The charms that are commonly used include a heart for true love, a clover or horseshoe for good luck, a flower for blooming love, a ring for an upcoming engagement, a baby carriage for children, a telephone for good news, an anchor for travel and adventure, a money bag for good fortune, wedding bells for future marriage, a rocking chair for a long life, and a picture frame for a happy life.
Traditions can be fun to incorporate into your wedding ceremony, and they can mean a lot to many couples. While they should not be treated as rules every couple must abide by, you may wish to share in some of them when it comes time for cake at your reception!