Osceola County Historical Society Blog

Historical Wedding Traditions Part 1: Wedding Cakes

Posted by Maggie Ferrara on Jan 18, 2018 9:00:00 AM

With the opening of our 1800s Replica Historic Church available for Weddings and Vow Renewals, we wanted to take a look into many common wedding traditions still performed.

Have you ever wondered why the Bride wears a white dress? Or why we eat a tiered wedding cake? Or why the Bride tosses her bouquet? Or why we host a bridal shower?

Where did these traditions come from? Why do we do them?

Join us for a multi-part mini-series as we uncover the history behind many common Wedding Traditions!


A wedding cake is the cake served at wedding receptions following the meal.  They are baked with the intention to bring good luck to the couple in their marriage. Modernly, they are featured as a focal point or centerpiece at a wedding reception. They often feature many layers and are decorated with a base of white frosting, marzipan, or fondant with colored accents.

In ancient Roman Times, a wedding ceremony was celebrated with a plain, brown loaf of grain bread. The groom would break the bread over the Bride’s head for luck in the marriage. Wedding guests would throw crumbs at the couple for prosperity.

Traditional Wedding Cake at 10.07.27 PM.png

“In Medieval England cakes were stacked as high as possible for the bride and groom to kiss over.

A successful kiss meant they were guaranteed a prosperous life together” – Wikipedia. It is from this tradition that the many tiered layer cake began. It wasn’t until about 1900 that broom sticks or dowels were used to support the tiers to create even larger cakes.

Sugar was hard to come by until the 19th century, so other traditional wedding cakes included fruit pies or dense fruit cakes preserved in liquor. Fruit cakes were thought to be a symbol of fertility and prosperity, so fruit cakes were traditionally served at weddings to bless the family with many children.

A Bride’s pie was also traditionally eaten in the 18th century. Each guest was required to eat the Bride’s pie - It was considered very rude and bad luck not to eat the Bride’s pie.

It was traditionally indicated that the size of the wedding cake indicated the wealth or monetary status of the couple getting married. The larger the cake, the more wealthy the couple was. Additionally, as sugar was hard to come by, having a cake made of refined, white sugar also became a symbol of wealth. Only the wealthiest families could afford a cake with pure white sugar. The color white was thought to symbolize virginity and purity. The traditional white colored wedding cake became popular when Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom to Prince Albert in 1840. The white icing on her wedding cake became known as “Royal Icing” due to the purity of the white refined sugar in the icing and is now used on modern wedding cakes.

There are many traditions and superstitions surrounding the wedding cake itself which we will explore in later blog posts including:

  1. Saving the top layer of the cake
  2. Cutting the cake with the groom
  3. Having a groom’s cake
  4. Smashing the cake in each other’s faces
  5. Lucky charms on the cake

 Trace Wedding at 10.06.05 PM.pngBast Vow Renewal at 10.07.39 PM.png

Throughout history, the wedding cake symbolized the ending to a wedding, and a sweet beginning to a lifetime of happiness, prosperity, and fruitfulness.

 Have a question about a Wedding or party tradition that you want answered? Are you interested in renting the many venues managed by the Osceola County Historical Society for weddings, meetings, parties or events?

E-mail Maggie Ferrara: maggie@osceolahistory.org or visit www.osceolahistory.org/event-venue-rentals for more information.

 

Making Your Story – History!

 

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_cake

 Photos: Keith & Kelly Trace Wedding - 2012, Bast Vow Renewal cake – 2017, Traditional Wedding Cake – Wikipedia

Topics: Venue Rentals, Wedding Cakes, Wedding Traditions, Osceola County Historical Society, Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek, Osceola County Welcome Center and HIstory Museum

About this Blog

The Osceola County Historical Society is focused on preserving Osceola County’s rich, cultural history while sharing it with others. This blog is perfect for just that. 

Remember, here you can find information on:

  • Osceola County History
  • Pioneer Families
  • Events at the Welcome Center and History Museum
  • Much, much more!

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