The History of the Wedding Cake
After the wedding dress and bride's bouquet, maybe nothing is so powerful a wedding symbol as the wedding cake. It's so ubiquitous, many people just assume the wedding cake has always been a part of wedding celebrations everywhere.
Like all popular beliefs, there's some truth to that idea, though of course the real facts are much more fascinating and a whole lot more colorful.
The Wedding Cake's Early Days
During the heady days of the Roman Empire, wedding guests were served not one cake but a sumptuous collection of many small treats and pastries as a kind of wedding party favor. In some parts of the empire, one single cake was dropped over the bride's head at the reception, as a way of wishing the couple good luck in the future.
Later, during the Middle Ages, many guests would bring small cakes to the wedding celebration. The cakes were all piled atop a single table, creating the beginning of the tiered wedding cake known today. As a tradition, a bride and groom that could still kiss over the pile of cakes were considered to have good luck in the upcoming marriage.
Wedding cakes began to change and grow in the 19th Century, when new means of refrigeration could keep their ingredients fresh for much longer periods.
The modern wedding cake is a kind of homage to St. Bride's Church, a famous English Medieval Chapel. The church's spire includes several spires, much like a tiered cake.
Many modern couples have adopted the wedding cake design to display their own interests or passions. For example, a couple fascinated by the Renaissance may choose to decorate their cake with decorations specific to that time period. The bride and groom figures atop the cake may also reflect their hobbies and pastimes.
Because modern wedding cakes have become so elaborate, their preparation time has steadily grown. Wedding planners are encouraged to make arrangements with a pastry chef up to three months in advance of the wedding reception.
Wedding Cake Traditions
Some popular wedding cake traditions taken from around the world include:
- a bride who cuts her own cake will have to work hard all her life.
- if the groom lays his hands over the bride's hands as the cake is cut, they will share their possessions their whole life.
- the bride cuts the first piece of cake as a way of hoping for children.
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