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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Wedding Traditions and History: The Bridal Party

This week we are taking a look at the fascinating history of the modern day Bridal Party.

Photos by Michelle McMurray

The Bridal Party: Then
Photo by Michelle McMurray

Photo by Gertrude and Mabel Photography

The Bridal Party: Now
Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

In early traditions, groomsmen were called ‘bridesknights.’  These bridesknights supported the groom by helping him capture and protect his bride. They would ride their horses to another town to kidnap the bride, and the groom’s ‘best knight’ would help fight for the groom’s love.

Drawing by Manga and Anime

The Groomsmen: Then
Drawing by Manga and Anime

The bridesknights would then oversee the safety of the bride until the wedding ceremony was over.  The best knight would stand on the Brides side so he could be next to her and protect her until they were married. This was thought to confuse the evil spirits, ensuring that no spells could be cast over the couple.

It’s safe to say that the role of the groomsmen has changed significantly over the years!  Today’s responsibilities include planning the groom’s last hurrah by way of a bachelor party, and ensuring he makes it to the church on time for the ceremony.

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The Groomsmen: Now
Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

Photo by Martin Schweig

The Bridesmaids: Then
Photo by Martin Schweig

Back in the day, bridesmaids played a very similar role to the brideknights. The bride’s closest friends would help the bride get some distance from her over-protective family and unwanted suitors so she could be captured by the groom she desired.  On her wedding day, her bridesmaids would dress similarly to the bride in an effort to throw off any evil spirits and bad luck that could be directed towards the otherwise easily identifiable bride and groom.

Laura & Jeff Wedding by Michelle Pattee

The Bridesmaids: Now
Photo by Michelle Pattee Photography

Nowadays, the maid of honor and bridesmaids are chosen specially from the bride’s close group of friends to stand beside her on the big day.  They celebrate her by planning a fabulous bachelorette party prior to the wedding, and see to it that each and every one of her needs are met while she prepares to walk down the aisle.

Traditions are so much more fun in our day and age!

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Photo by Gertrude & Mabel

Wedding Traditions and History: Marriage

Have you ever wondered about the history of marriage?

Photo by Nicole Kipar

Photo by Nicole Kipar

Many years ago the process of marriage was simple and straight forward, and in fact, a contract of sorts. Marriage took place in 2 steps:

capture and purchase.

First, the groom would gather his “bridesknights” and ride off together to another village to capture his bride.

Next he would purchase that bride, which included legal contracts involving a bride and her dowry. The bride was sold by her family for land and livestock.

Photo by Ephemera Obscura

Photo by Ephemera Obscura

Years later, arranged marriages came about. Arranged marriages united families in an effort to either gain power or change their social status. Single women had no place in society. Sadly, this was not a marriage based on love.

Unequal marriage, a 19th-century painting by Russian artist Pukirev

Unequal marriage, a 19th-century painting by Russian artist Pukirev

My, how times have changed.

Today we are blessed to have the opportunity to marry the person we fall in love with and live happily ever after!

Photo by Nirav Patel Photography

Photo by Nirav Patel Photography