WEDDING cakes have been part of the marriage ceremony ever since medieval times says House of Bakes’ owner Riette Wilken, as she explains how it has grown out of its traditions.
Wilken, who is sponsoring The Herald Boardwalk Bridal Fair winners with a designer wedding cake, said wheat was originally used as a symbol of fertility and prosperity.
“Back in the Roman Empire it was a loaf of bread that the groom would eat part of and then break the rest over his bride’s head. This was taken as a sign of good fortune and a blessing for a long life and many children,” she said.
Wilken said other wedding cake traditions involved throwing a plate holding a piece of cake out of the window as the bride entered her father’s home after the wedding, placing a ring on the wedding cake and sleeping with a piece of wedding cake underneath one’s pillow.
“The behaviour of the bride and grooms and their guests were always in good faith.
“Some superstitions were also tied to wedding cake. For example, if a child under five snitched cake or frosting from the cake, it was said the newlyweds firstborn would be the same sex as the child.
“White cakes symbolised purity and the bride cutting the cake alone was symbolic of her upcoming loss of virginity. The bride and groom cutting the cake together symbolised their first joint task in married life and the gesture of feeding cake to one another symbolised their commitment to a life together.”
The top tier of the wedding cake was kept and only cut at the christening of the couple’s first child or at their first wedding anniversary. “Wedding cakes reached their high popularity in the 1800s. These cakes were simple single-tiered plum cakes, with some variations. The once simple wedding cake has evolved into what today is a multi-tiered extravaganza,” Wilken said.