Wedding Traditions and History: The Wedding Cake

Who doesn’t love a little history, especially when it involves something sweet?!

Photo by Jose Villa

Photo by Jose Villa

In Ancient Rome, before the invention of icing, a loaf of bread was broken over the bride’s head by the groom to seal the marriage and encourage fertility. The guests would gather around the couple and eat the crumbs from the bread for good luck. The unmarried guests would often take a piece of bread home and place it under their pillow in hopes of dreaming of their future spouse.

Photo by Yvonne Wong Photography

Photo by Yvonne Wong Photography

In England, guests would bring small cakes or buns to weddings and pile them up for the bride and groom to stand over and kiss. This scene was thought to represent a future full of prosperity.

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

Later still, in 16th century England, sugar was growing in abundance.  It was during this time that wedding cakes officially came about.  The white color of wedding cakes not only symbolized the bride’s purity or virginity, it also became a “status symbol” for the family.  The more refined the sugar, the whiter it was in appearance.  Therefore, the whiter the cake, the more affluent the family was perceived.

Photo by Elle Jae Photography

Photo by Elle Jae Photography

From these traditions evolved the wedding cake we know today: multi-tiered layers of cake with frosting holding them together. The modern wedding cake comes in all shapes, sizes and colors and often costs as much as the bride’s dress!

Photo by Nirav Patel

Photo by Nirav Patel

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