Breaking with Wedding Cake Traditions

The most famous of cake quotes, “Let them eat cake”, does not have to apply to wedding cakes anymore. Either in the big city, or herein the Smoky Mountains, I am pleased to say that brides and grooms are stepping out of the “cake box” and getting creative in choosing their wedding cakes or wedding desserts. With so little understanding of the tradition of wedding cake and what it has meant through the ages, couples are free to come up with traditions of their own.

Some traditions are best forgotten? A bride today would never go for the wedding cake or bread as used 2000 years ago, to be broken over her head by her groom to show his dominance over her as they did in Roman times. Stacked, sweet buns were popular in medieval times and brought the bride and groom together by them kissing over the top. From the 17th to the 19th century, minced and meat pies were customary, meat being a luxury much like sugar. As refined sugar was introduced to Victorian England, cakes were developed to showcase a family’s wealth and the virginal state of the bride. It is only in the last 100 years that a couple cuts the cake together as their first act of unity.

Today’s couples are choosing a smaller version of a wedding cake and offering cupcakes instead. We have hosted weddings where family members were asked to bring their specialty dessert. Guests were lined up to sample Aunt Connie’s Rum cake, Great Grandma’s Pecan Tarts and Mom’s Coconut cake. This personal touch reflected the bringing together of both families in a “sweet” way. Pies and cobblers are making a huge comeback, a common wedding dessert in Pioneer days. One of our Destination Brides is having a Rice Crispy Cake we had posted on facebook. She wanted an easy, fun and inexpensive alternative to cake.

Some traditions are worth keeping, the cutting of the cake, hand over hand, in the promise to support and nurture one another. Feeding of the cake symbolizes love, honor and respect for each other, so….no smashing of cake! The final tradition, another symbol of respect and love, the serving of cake to each others parents is worth keeping. I challenge you to test the boundaries of all things sweet until you find what is meaningful for you.