Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Ever So Important Wedding Cake

(Photo via Glorious Desserts)

I have done a lot of thinking when it comes to the wedding cake and the ceremony of cutting the wedding cake. So, here is a little history on the wedding cake (just in case you ever wondered):

In Ancient Greece people dipped cakes made with honey into wine as part of special feasts, and conquering Romans adapted the ritual to their own. In these ancient cultures, wheat was a symbol of fertility and bountiful harvest - the essence of life itself. Records of early Roman weddings tell of guests pitching grains of wheat at the bride and groom, to encourage fertility in their union. This is speculated to be the origin of the modern day tradition of rice throwing.

As customs evolved, the practice of bringing small wheat cakes to the ceremony became commonplace. The guests would crumble the cakes over the bride's head, symbolizing the same gifts of fortune and fertility. Guests would then eat the fallen crumbs to share in the young couple's good fortune. Wheat was considered a gift of nature, essential for survival, and the offering of wedding cakes as a blessing to the union was the ideal gift.

By the Middle Ages, sweet buns or rolls had replaced the plain wheat cakes, but it was still customary for the guests to bring these to the wedding. They were stacked in a tall mound between the bride and groom, and if they were able to kiss over the stack, they would be blessed with many children and much prosperity. It is said that in the seventeenth century, a French pastry chef added his signature to the custom by frosting the cake tower with sugar, helping the buns to retain their form. This is believed to be the first account of a tiered, frosted wedding cake, after which the modern wedding cake is patterned.

Until refined flour and processed sugar became available in the eighteenth century, wedding cakes were typically dense fruitcakes baked well in advance and soaked in spirits to preserve them. The top tier was saved for the first anniversary (a tradition many still follow today) or the christening of the first child. This cake was handled with great care, for superstition held that if the tier crumbled before the first anniversary, there would be trouble in the marriage.

Many wedding traditions we enjoy today we owe to Victorian England. The elaborate, edible decorations that we associate with a traditional wedding cake came from the Victorians' love of ornament. Queen Victoria, who is said to have popularized the wearing of bridal white, had a cake that weighed over 300 lbs. While most wedding cakes today do not quite reach such a grand scale, many brides still prefer a cake of impressive stature.

(History via Eden Cakes)

One thing that I have noticed is that many times you miss the cake cutting ceremony. People are usually talking, refilling their beverages, bath room breaks, etc. I can't tell you how many times I missed the cake cutting ceremony because I did not hear the DJ's announcement over all the talking. With this being said, I have decided (thanks to the advice from my future sister-in-law/bridesmaid, Tara) that right after Rich and I have been announced at the reception we will immediately cut the wedding cake. This makes sense for sooooo many reasons.

1. Everyone gets to see the cake cutting ceremony and everyone's attention is on you

2. The cake can be placed in the center of the room and be a main focal point (the cake will be in the center of the dance floor at the Scottish Rite Cathedral directly under the BEAUTIFUL chandelier which will be a fabulous picture opportunity - see picture below)

3. Once the cake has been cut by the bride and groom, the staff will have plenty of time to cut the cake into pieces for the guests since dinner will be going on

4. This will allow for people to hit the dance floor sooner after dinner since there will be one less thing to worry about.

I will let the jury deliberate on their thoughts but I personally think that the cake cutting ceremony would be much more effective following the announcement of the bride and groom. Plus it is different from the traditional order of events. Any thoughts?

(Photo via Jessica Strickland - Elise + John)


Stephanie @ Gossip. Style. Wed. said...

Love this idea! It definitely makes the most sense. One of my brides and I were debating this last week...I'll def past this post on to her :)

jessica lynn said...

we cut the cake after dinner, and I would have LOVED to do it before dinner, but the reception (for us) wouldnt have flown right if we would have done it that way. regardless, i cant wait to taste the cake at your wedding!!!

Adrienne said...

I really like this idea! I was in a wedding last year and they did this. They basically wanted to get all of the formalities {including the first dances} over with before dinner so that the rest of the night was spent partying! It worked out well for them.

Jenny.Lee said...

Very good idea!

Rachel said...

I really like the cake you have pictured - very pretty!!

Cutting the cake so early is a good idea - I've never heard that before! Another option, that we're doing is to cut it right after all the guests have sat down with their dinners. That way, they can see us and won't miss it.

I am still in love with your venue!! It's so fabulous!