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Wedding Cakes Trivia, Inspirations, and Alternatives

Wedding cakes are more than just confections! They come from a long line of superstitions and traditions that have been blended together over the years to give us the towering, frosted cakes we are oh-so-familiar with today.

The Recap:  It started with bread.

  • After 7th century BC, bread was broken over a Roman bride’s head to bring good fortune.
  • After 5th century AD, sweet rolls were stacked as high as possible for a Medieval bride and groom to kiss over; a successful kiss promised a prosperous marriage.
  • In the 17th century, a pastry apprentice fell madly in love with his employer’s daughter, and to impress his boss, his bride, and all of Fleet Street in London, he showcased the first tiered wedding cake.
  • Til the 19th century, when sugar became more available, pies and fruit cake remained the most popular showcase confection at weddings.
  • During the early 19th century, because refined sugar and flour were still a luxury, almost out of the reach of us common folks,  a white cake with white frosting became a sought-after status symbol of rich unions.
  • Today, a white-frosted, white-cake, multi-tiered wedding centerpiece is a Western pop culture symbol of matrimony (which is why people are opting for red velvet, pineapple or strawberry cake under a blanket of fondant.)
  • Wedding cakes are often so tall they require structural reinforcement (and their own zip code).

Some Superstitions:  Think happy thoughts.

  • Rings are sometimes hidden in cakes and pies, similar to Mardi Gras king cakes.  Sometimes a single ring is in the bottom layer of the cake.  Ribbons, one attached to the ring, are strung out from under the cake.  The bridesmaid who pulls out the ribbon attached to the ring is supposed to be the next lucky bride.
  • Maidens who put a piece of the bride’s cake under their pillows are supposed to dream of their future husbands.
  • Keeping the top layer of the wedding cake for a full year is supposed to ensure a happy marriage (and sometimes a future stomach ache.)
  • A successfully passionate kiss above the tallest of cakes (meaning you kissed for longer than a few seconds and didn’t fall into your cake) is supposed to ensure a fruitful union with many children.  I think it just sounds like fun, fall or no fall.

Some International Inspiration

Instead of cake, take a look at what other cultures still offer.  Croquembouche (which means crunches in your mouth) is a desirable alternative to a layer cake.  Oftentimes there is spun sugar and other crunchy adornments.

A tower of truffles or macaroons can make a stunning centerpiece.

Search for some alternatives

Take a look around.  Some of the cutest confectionary centerpieces included mini-pies as well as the bride and groom’s favorite cookies turned into towers.  Anything can make a stunning centerpiece and can inspire awwww’s and oh-la-la’s!

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The author: Dawn Van Ness

Dawn Dickson Van Ness grew up at the beach and has published her work in print and online. With a BA in English and a MS in Mass Communications, she has used writing and multimedia to promote artists, art shows, writers, small businesses, and other self-employed individuals by building websites and maintaining social media pages. She feels most fulfilled when she is helping others achieve their dreams, which includes writing self-help and steps-to-success articles for various websites. It seems a natural fit for this wife and mother of two to write features that help soon-to-be wed couples. For more about Dawn, go to


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