Drawing Inspiration from the History of Wedding Cakes

4 min read

Drawing Inspiration from the History of Wedding Cakes

If you’ve been to a lot of weddings, you’ve probably heard a lot of wedding hosts describe the purpose of the wedding cake cutting tradition. More insights may be had if you read Seabastian of Owlcation’s entry on the rich history of the wedding cake, from the traditional Roman cake to the contemporary cakes of today. His account of the evolution of the wedding cake aesthetic over the years will spark enthusiasm in conceptualizing your own.

Seabastian’s comprehensive write-up on the wedding cake is too good not to read. You really should check it out here.

Here, you’ll find some highlights from the article and how you can grab ideas and inspiration from them.

 “When the barley bread was served, the groom would eat part of the loaf, and then break the rest of it over his new bride's head. This act was to symbolize his dominance over her, and the rather barbaric sentiment probably has a lot to do with why this particular bit of wedding tradition has long since been abandoned.”

While this ancient tradition will make feminists cringe, let’s focus instead on the type of cake – barley bread! It’s far from the traditional frosted cake we see nowadays. The icing will figure in the wedding cake history centuries later, something we’ll touch on in the next topic.

You absolutely don’t need to conform with the contemporary cake (icing, multi-tiered, etc.) Just look at this understated wedding rum cake from Great Cakes. If it weren’t for the topper, you wouldn’t even know it was a wedding cake.

wedding rum cake

Photo from Great Cakes

The “literal” cheese cake also made waves in the wedding scene last year. Cheese and wine – wouldn’t that make more sense in a wedding toast?

wedding cheese cake

Photo from Rodney Bailey via Capitol Romance

Replacing the traditional wedding cake with macarons isn’t a new idea, but it still counts as a wonderful wedding cake alternative. No more cutting – just grab bite-sized pieces from the stack. Talk about hassle-free!

wedding cake macarons

Photo from Adorn Magazine

In the 19th century, wedding cakes were generally plum cakes or fruitcakes, often created in the stacked tier format which is typical today. White icing had become the preferred decoration for wedding cakes. The concept that the color white represents purity in a wedding came about only when Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert in 1840.

For many people, there isn’t an option beyond white for weddings. Isn’t it fascinating that it only takes one person to change the course of history?

Couples and cake designers have become more creative and daring nowadays. This black cake is a rebellious statement against traditional weddings. Just be careful to check your teeth after the cake cutting/eating ceremony. You don’t want stained pearly whites in your wedding photos!

black wedding cake

Photo from Brides.com

Naked cakes are still hot commodities in the wedding industry. One look at it makes you feel like you’re in an intimate house party. It’s a style devoid of pretentiousness.

naked wedding cake

Photo from The Knot

If you’re shy with colors, ombré is the way to go. See how this subtle turquoise ombré still catches the eye against the standard white?

Photo from Brides.com

Some modern wedding cakes are now so elaborate that they are more sculpture than pastry. In fact, to make intricate shapes possible while keeping costs under control, some wedding cakes are actually made primarily from inedible materials like Styrofoam or plywood.

Wedding cakes are edible works of art. Cake suppliers put in a lot of work to make the cake look as unforgettable as the wedding itself. In fact, some cakes look so beautiful that you wouldn’t want to eat them anymore!

This chandelier wedding cake is a testament to the magnitude of innovation that cake designers strive for. This cake doesn’t just require artistry. You need to inject a bit of science to execute this idea.

chandelier wedding cake

Photo from Cake Me By Suprise

Who could forget Disney’s cake projection mapping that made rounds in social media around three years ago? Disney patented this highly sophisticated technology. With this cake in your wedding banquet, you have guaranteed additional entertainment for your guests. Check out this video of the cake’s debut at the Disney Fairy Tale Weddings and Honeymoons bridal expo.

disney wedding cake

Photo from BuzzFeed

This stained-glass cake just shows the infinite possibilities of artistic human hands. Who needs a centerpiece when you have this?

stained glass wedding cake

Photo from Want That Wedding

What’s Next for Wedding Cakes?

Seeing how the wedding cake has evolved, who knows what it will look like in the next 10, 20, or 30 years? There are just so many possibilities for creativity and innovation, and you can even use a bit of its history for inspiration.

No matter what style you’re leaning towards, don’t forget the principles of design and make sure the cake’s aesthetic harmonizes with other elements in the room. Also, don’t forget to serve it with the right tools; go for timeless pieces like this silver knife and server set.

The cake cutting/eating part of the wedding may be a short part, but it is nonetheless a crucial moment the couple and the guests look forward to. Make sure it is an unforgettable experience.