Your wedding cake is the delicious centerpiece of your wedding reception and a spread in your wedding album. Your wedding cake reflects your style as a couple and the theme of your wedding. Cutting your carefully planned confection is a staple wedding day tradition and your first cooperative act as husband and wife.
Throughout history the wedding cake has been a symbol of fertility, prosperity, and good luck. In ancient Rome a barley cake was crumbled over the bride’s head to bring luck and fertility. The bride and groom would share a few bites together and wedding guests would scoop up the crumbs.
As the tradition spread to mediaeval England. The barley cake was replaced with buns and cookies which would be stacked as high as possible, the predecessor of tiered wedding cakes. The bride and groom would attempt to kiss over the tower of sweets, if they could it was said that they would have good fortune throughout their marriage.
In the 16th and 17th centuries cakes were replaced with bride’s pie. Bride’s pie was a savory pastry crust filled with oysters, lamb testicles, pine kernels, and cocks' combs. It was considered bad luck and rude to not partake in the bride’s pie. A glass ring was placed in the pie and the maiden who found it was said to be the next to be married, a similar tradition to the toss of the bride’s bouquet.
Our current cake style is from Thomas Rich 18th century London who wanted to impress his boss’s daughter with an elaborate cake when he proposed. Refined sugar was very rare and expensive and was thought to symbolize purity, status, and wealth. White cakes were a reflection of the bride’s family’s wealth and the higher the social standing of the family the taller the cake.
At this point in the wedding cake’s history there were two cakes, the bride’s cake and the groom’s cake. The bride would cut her cake alone as a symbol of the loss of her virginity. In modern times the bride and groom cut the first piece of the cake together with the remainder of the cutting is left to the catering staff.
In the 1950’s wedding cake toppers became popular in The United States featuring a likeness of the bride and groom in a tuxedo and wedding dress. Today there are countless options to adorn the top of your cake.
When do you cut the cake? Cake cutting typically occurs following toasts before dancing begins and cake is served during dancing. Some couples choose to cut the cake immediately following the entrances to allow for enough time for the catering staff to cut it so that it can be served as soon as dinner is cleared.
Pro-Tip: There is a fee for cake cutting so be sure to include it in your budget.
How do you cut the cake? If you want to be really prepared you can find videos on YouTube that tell you exactly how to cut the wedding cake. So many of our couples walk up to a three tiered masterpiece and realize they aren’t sure how to cut it. (If I’m your photographer I am happy to give you some direction.)
After you cut the cake the custom is for the bride to feed the groom the first bite of cake. Most commonly I see our couples feed each other a bite at the same time. That is, unless they decide to smash the cake in each other’s faces.
Today some couples are opting for less traditional dessert options such as cupcakes, cookies, or doughnut walls. If you still want to include the cake-cutting tradition in your reception many bakeries offer a single-layer cake just for cutting.
Is it bad luck to smash the cake in each other’s faces? The short answer is no. We have the ancient Romans to thank for the cake smash. It is believed that this tradition was born out of their custom of breaking barley cake over the bride’s head. This was believed to bring good luck and fertility to the bride.
Cake smashing is something your should discuss with your partner beforehand, it can obviously create a funny moment. Nowadays cake cutting occurs after the bride has had professional hair and makeup done and both parties are wearing expensive clothes. It is said that smashing the cake in your partner’s face is bad luck as it is a disregard for everything they have done to prepare their appearance for the wedding day.
Another wedding cake superstition included sleeping with a piece of cake under your pillow. We date this lore back to the 17th century when it was believed that if you slept with a small piece of the treat under your pillow you would dream of the person you were going to marry. It was said that the bride would pass the cake through her wedding ring for extra good luck.
Couple’s once save the top layer of wedding cake foe the christening of their first child. Since many couples don’t have children right away, brides and grooms started celebrating their first wedding anniversary with the top tier of the wedding cake.
Pro-Tip: If you decide you want to save the top tier of your wedding cake discuss proper freezing instructions and the shelf-life of your cake with your bakery.
This is a photo that every couple expects to see in their wedding gallery and we are always excited to deliver. This is a wedding day moment best captured with a second photographer, one camera is able to focus on you while the other is focused on your spouse as you feed each other your first bite of wedding cake. Other images we like to include are your hands as you cut the cake and the cake after it's been cut.