The Evolution of the Wedding Cake

I shot a wedding about a month ago in France and instead of what I am used to seeing for the wedding cake they had a croquembouche which is the French version.  It started me thinking about how our cakes are so different and where the idea of the wedding cake started and why every wedding in the past 12 years I have ever shot has a wedding cake. So, I started to do some research and what I found was pretty freaking interesting so I thought I would share it with all you lovelies.

The history of the wedding cake goes as far back as the Roman Empire.  Did you know that they use to break the cake over the brides head?? The groom would eat part of the loaf of bread baked especially for the wedding and break the rest over his bride. It was suppose to symbolized the breaking of the bride’s virginal state. Ummm I think I am glad that tradition did not make it to today’s date but, that is why today we see the bride and groom smashing cake in each others face.

photo credit: Scobey Photography

In Medieval Europe cakes were described as breads with some sweetening. There are stories of a custom involving stacking small sweet buns in a large pile in front of the newlyweds and the couple would attempt to kiss over the pile.  This is where the stacking of the cream puffs in a pile like the modern day french wedding cake came from.  It was said if the bride and groom could successfully kiss over the pile they would produce many children.

photo credit: Tab McCausland Photography

From the 17th century to the 19th century there was a pie called the “brides” pie.  The pie was filled with sweet bread or a simple mutton pie. The  main ingredient was a ring made out of glass.  They claimed that the lady who found the ring while eating the pie would be the next to be married.  It is said that over time this custom has changed and formed into today’s version of the lady who catches the bouquet is the next to be married.

photo credit: Ever After Visuals

 

But why where wedding cakes always white?? The symbolism attached to the color white meaning “purity” is the reason that from the beginning using bread until today the preferred wedding cake color is still white.  Since the wedding cake was originally called the “brides” cake a white cake was a symbol of the brides purity. This not only highlighted the bride as the main figure of the wedding, but also created a link visually between the bride and the cake.  In 2010 81% of wedding cakes in the USA used white icing!

photo credit: Allori Photography

So why do we save the top layer of the wedding cake???  This one I found the most interesting so apparently most people got pregnant and had a baby about 10 to 11 months after they got married.  So somewhere around the early 20th century when the multi tiered wedding cake started to become popular instead of having a grand cake for your wedding and an elaborate cake for your child’s christening they would save the top layer of the wedding cake to serve at the christening.

photo credit: Aeris Photography

 I hope you all found this as interesting as I did.  I love wedding cake and no matter what color the outside as long as it is red velvet with cream cheese icing I am IN.  🙂

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