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The History of a Wedding Cake

With summer approaching and the start of the Wedding Season, who knew that there was so much history related to how our traditional wedding cake came into being.  In this fun article we will take a look at the evolution of this very traditional aspect of any wedding!

Everyone has a wedding cake right?  Go to any wedding fayre and it is venue, flowers, dress and cake.  What you might not know is the history of the wedding cake shapes (literally!) the cake we have today.

Buy why do we have a wedding cake?

The tradition dates back thousands of years to the age of the Romans when a wheat and barley cake was broken over the brides’ head as a symbol of good luck.  Did you know that the word matrimony is derived from the Roman word matrimonium?

Wedding Pie

The earliest dated “wedding cake” is far removed from what we know today.  In fact it wasn’t even a cake, it was a pie!  Imagine a large elaborately decorated savoury pie containing oysters, sweetbreads, pine kernels to name a few.  Remember, sugar was not readily available until the 1500’s because it was imported and expensive.  So for this reason savoury food was only the real option and the fillings were considered something of a delicacy.


It was also considered very bad manner indeed to have a slice of the wedding pie, hence the tradition of a large cake to serve all your guests.  Did you know that a ring was baked inside the pie and the lucky lady who found it would be the next bride.  This tradition has change to catching the bouquet of flowers.

From Pie to Cake

Over time with sugar becoming more readily available there was a transition to a sweet cake rather than a savoury pie.  However, ovens were not common place within the home environment and it was considered unlucky for the bride to bake her own cake.  The more frugal option of a sweet pastry made in a skillet on the range and then stack with dried fruits became a popular choice.

Then over 400 years ago (yes that long!) it became the tradition to have two cakes.  Why two cakes?  One for the bride a lighter cake with pale covering and one darker fruit laden one for the groom.  The groom’s cake was cut up and given to the guests in little boxes as a good luck wedding memento.  Often in the same way it is cut up today.  The groom’s tradition of having his own cake is making a come back and groom cakes are in fashion but are usually a novelty cake in the form of cars, dogs or golf clubs.

Then the fashion changed again and a ‘traditional cake’ became the go to.  This was covered in a mixture of sugar and egg white and baked to make this mixture firm.  This wonderful meringue type of concoction was name ‘bliss’.

A Royal Cake fit for a Queen

In the 1700s the fashion became a fruit cake covered in almond paste and sugar whipped with egg white to create icing.  Finally, the traditional wedding cake had now arrived on the scene! 

The tradition of having a wedding cake in white came about because it showed signs of status and wealth.  Refined sugar was become more readily available.  However, being very expensive meant a cake in pure white icing was a grand centre piece for any wedding.  Did you know that Queen Victoria had just such a wedding cake covered in pure white icing and hence the name ‘Royal Icing’.

Modern Times

Again the ‘traditional’ wedding cake is re-inventing itself with sugar paste and fondant icing becoming fashionable due to its adaptability and ability to colour easily.  So today it is less about how white a wedding cake is but more about the overall WOW moment.

If you are after tall cake boxes for your wedding cakes contact us.

You may also be interested in reading about The History of the Hot Cross Bun. | 0800 237 422 |

About the author

Veronica Aris

Veronica Aris

Veronica has more than 20 years in senior management roles, leading marketing and sales strategies that include primary care consumables, pharmaceuticals, natural health care supplements, consumer and safety products within B2B and B2C.

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