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Translation: “It only hurts for a second, my bride.”

Gloria Kreitzberg // Marketing Director

Wedding traditions can make us feel comfortable. They connect us to family and weddings that came before us for generations. When it comes to wedding cakes, that tradition has often been included in the wedding reception without question—even if the happy couple hates cake! But, the wedding cake tradition had quite a rough start.

By offering insight as to how this tradition came to be, we hope you will find that changing things up a bit is perfectly acceptable (although bopping the bride on the noggin is not recommended). Think of this article as a permission slip to let go of traditions if they don’t reflect you or your partner’s true personalities.

 

Where it all began…

It was the Ancient Romans who thought it was perfectly acceptable to seal the marriage by having the groom break a loaf of barley cake (a.k.a. bread) over the bride’s head (ouch). This wedding tradition was said to bring good fortune to the marriage. After she got clunked, guests quickly picked up the crumbs that fell on the floor, so that some of that luck would rub off on them.

In Britain during Medieval times after the fall of the Roman Empire, they hadn’t quite got the wedding ‘cake’ idea yet, so they would stack buns high (the higher the better) which was known as a croquembouche. If the newly married couple was able to kiss each other above the pile of buns, this meant they would have a future of prosperity.

 

No cake yet.

Sometime during the mid-17th century, the ‘bride’s pie’ came to be. Try not to toss your cookies when you read the kinds of fillings that were in these pastry delights; oysters, sweetbreads, cock combs, minced meat, lamb stones, pine kernels, and pickled broom buds. What? You’ll pass on the pie? Unfortunately, it was considered rude not to have a piece of Bride’s Pie. But, if you were lucky enough to find the glass ring that was hidden in the pie, that meant that you would be next in line to be wed.

 

Finally, cake.

Later during the 17th century, baking techniques were developed, ovens got more reliable, and refined sugar became all the rage. That’s when the wedding cake got a little closer to what we’re used to serving today. But, frosting wasn’t invented just yet. The closest they got to frosting was to flavor sugar and egg whites with herbs and spices and pour the mixture over the cake before they baked it. Back then, they made a cake for the bride and another one for the groom.

 

Tiers of Joy

In the late 18th century in London, the traditional tiered wedding cake became the thing to do. The tiers were bolstered by strong supports to keep them from toppling over—similar to how modern bakers use rods for stabilization. As beautiful as this new style of wedding cake was, it was considered a luxury item and was only served by families who had a good degree of social status.

 

It’s Good to be Queen

In the mid-1800’s when Queen Victoria was in power, wedding cake traditions radically changed, and many of them are still practiced today. First, wedding cakes back then were actually plum cakes or fruitcakes. Since sugar was so expensive, few cakes had icing. But, when the Queen served white sugar icing on her all white cake at her marriage to Prince Albert, the frosting was suddenly called royal icing and the delicate, traditional white wedding cake was born. Going forward, white icing on a white, tiered cake was a symbol of the family’s money and elite social status. Vickie didn’t know it then, but she set the style for traditional wedding cakes that are still served today.

 

Gimmie a Little Sugar

In the 20th Century during WWII, sugar was rationed, so the luxurious wedding cakes that were all the rage for a century, was reduced in size and quality. The wedding cake became much smaller, and most people had to have the ingredients given to them by family and friends, or no cake for the bride and groom. Some couples had to rent large fake wedding cakes made out of cardboard (for show), with a much smaller cake was hiding inside.

 

Let them eat cake…or not!

In recent years, couples became defiant and substituted the traditional wedding cake for cupcakes, cake pops, ice cream sundaes, sweets tables, meringues and Pavlovas, cheesecakes, pancakes, cookie cakes, pies, waffles, and donuts. ANYTHING, but wedding cake.

Today’s wedding trends have gone back to cakes, (but don’t get too excited), WITH NO FROSTING. Yup, you heard that right. Naked cakes became a ‘thing’ in 2013 and bakeries everywhere have done everything they can to elevate them. Today they are more elaborate, sophisticated, and yes, delicious.

 

Conclusion

If you are a traditionalist that wants gobs of buttercream icing, cakes piled high, and can’t wait to take the very top tier off and freeze it for your first anniversary, then do it. But, if you’re just not into cake and don’t want to have anything naked at your wedding, offer your guests a dessert that makes you happy. Can’t make up your mind? No worries. Our wedding planners will assist you in picking out the perfect wedding cake or any type of dessert to serve at your wedding when you have Webster Golf Weddings & Events host your special day. Give us a call and schedule a free consultation (and a tour, too). Call Dave Tiberio at 585.265.1920, Ext. 3.

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