The evolution of the wedding cake
Nowadays when we think about wedding cakes we think about them being a reflection of the personality of the bride or the couple. If the wedding is themed the cake will often reflect that in some way, either using the colours, flowers, or a more literal design element for instance a beach themed wedding could have a cake decorated in muted colours with sugar shells or a palm trees. So you would probably be surprised to hear that the earliest wedding cake was recorded as being Roman and was a simple barley loaf that the husband would break over his wife’s head to show his dominance in the marriage. This was followed by the bride’s pie in medieval England, this pie would either have a sweet (sweet bread or mincemeat) or savoury (meat) filling depending on the brides families budget. The bride’s pie was a feature in weddings up until the late 19th century when it was replaced with a single tiered plum cake(variations were often made). Royal icing was created in the late 1880’s and it was soon after, that wedding cakes were decorated. Apart from the early Romans the wedding cake has always been associated with the bride. So once cakes started being decorated, white was deemed as an appropriate colour to reflect the purity of the bride, and by this association the cake would take centre stage at the meal, as the bride did at the wedding ceremony. Once the art of stacking the cakes was mastered, then a new tradition came into being; this would be to keep the top tier for the christening of the first child as this was expected to follow within the year of the wedding.
As the artistry of sugar work has progressed so has the decorations on wedding cakes. Which brings us back to today; with cakes often decorated to compliment the brides dress or the bridal parties’ colours.
I think the main bit of advice I would give a bride/couple today when choosing a design for your wedding cake is to consider where the cake is going to be displayed on the day. Is the room well lit, does it have high or low ceilings, will the cake be in the centre of the room or in a corner or at one end of the head table. Also give some consideration the colour of the walls, you want you cake to standout not blend into the background. Don’t forget that no matter how spectacular it looks it’s a cake, it’s for eating, enjoy.