The tradition of serving cake at a wedding goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks. The newly wed couple would cut a sesame
seed cake together to symbolize fertility and happiness – it is from where we get our modern custom of cake cutting at a wedding.
However this custom was not always in vogue. The Romans did have a form of cake at their weddings, but instead of eating this wheat or barley cake, the groom would break it over the bride’s head. The crumbs that fell to the floor were then gathered up by the guests as tokens of good luck. A similar tradition of breaking a cake over the bride’s head continued for many centuries with some reports from Scotland dating as recently as the 19th century.
This custom slowly gave way to another whereby guests actually brought cakes to the reception. These cakes were then layered together using apple sauce – the higher the cake, the more popular the bride. Another custom that was widely popular during the Middle Ages involved the guests bringing sticky buns to the reception and piling them up in front of the happy couple. If the couple were able to kiss over the top they were supposed to be blessed with a long and happy marriage and many children.
In the eighteenth century brandied fruit cakes were a big hit because they were able to keep for so long. The Pilgrims brought this tradition over to the Americas and the fruit cake slowly evolved into the white, tiered cake that has come to symbolize wedding receptions.
Today the white cake has again evolved. Modern wedding cakes can be any color, any flavor and any style. They have become works of art and are prepared by skilled and talented cake designers who are eagerly sought by brides everywhere for their expertise and ability to turn an ordinary pastry into an incredible, edible creation.