Breaking Cake Together

Once we had a venue selected and booked, it was time to turn toward securing other vendors. The choice of where to focus next was obvious: the cake.

It’s all about priorities, people.

The tradition of wedding cakes, according to a fascinating history by Carol Wilson in Gastronomica, dates back to antiquity: “Ancient Roman wedding ceremonies were finalized by breaking a cake of wheat or barley…over the bride’s head as a symbol of good fortune,” after which the bride and groom would share a few of the crumbs. I’m certain many brides were grateful when this custom (also the precursor to modern-day confetti, says Wilson) morphed into a somewhat gentler crumbling of the cake over the head. Still, both rituals are a little too similar to the disturbing contemporary trend of the bride and groom shoving wedding cake in each others’ faces. Because nothing says I love you like frosting ground up your nose.

I’m equally glad we’ve moved beyond Yorkshire’s “Bride pie” (1500s-1800s), which Wilson describes as consisting of “a large round pie containing a plump hen full of eggs, surrounded by minced meats, fruits, and nuts” and decorated with “ornate pastry emblems.” It sounds like a cross between a Turducken and a fruitcake, and the fertility symbolism is a little less than subtle. According to Wilson’s history, it wasn’t until the late 1700s that a sweet cake finished with white icing became a common part of English wedding celebrations. Continue reading