Where do wedding cake traditions come from? The Wedding Cake & Champagne Toasts…
I think you are going to enjoy this post – it’s about cake and champagne, need I say more? Today I’m very happy to be talking about cake. Cake and champagne (it’s a nice day!) I love how much attention goes into all the details at the weddings I am lucky enough to photograph, and to continue my Wedding Traditions series, I want to talk about the symbolism of wedding cake and champagne toasts at your wedding.
It’s fascinating to read all about the ever-evolving traditions of weddings – I think the fact that they’re always changing is good fodder for when you’re perhaps persuading your Mum or great aunt that your wedding should represent you, and not a tradition you don’t necessarily believe in.
The Symbolism of Wedding Cake as Fertility
Have you ever seen those shots of cake being pushed into the bride’s face? It’s not as weird as you might think. It was actually the tradition before wedding guests around the world realised it was far better to eat it – apparently it was a fertility tradition to throw cake at the bride!
It was the ancient Roman bakers that changed the trend from throwing to eating, as they were distinguished in their trade. They started taking the wedding wheat and created small sweet cakes with it, the cakes were eaten during the service – what a fantastic idea, although perhaps a little distracting, to hand out cakes in church?
Following this, medieval England saw the tradition spread to include washing down the cake with special ale called “bryd ealu,” translated as “bride’s ale,” words that eventually became the word “bridal.”
The small sweet cakes turned into a tradition of guests bringing their own biscuits or scones. Piling everyone’s cakes on top of one another became the tradition, where the bride and groom had to kiss over the top of the mound without knocking it over as a sign of good luck – the bigger the pile the better to represent the future prosperity of the newly married couple.
It is rumoured that during Charles II’s reign, a French chef (whose name is lost to time) visited London and was disgusted at the cake-piling ritual. It was his idea to transform the messy mound of bland biscuits into a beautiful work of art, an iced, multi-tiered wedding cake, and hence a new tradition was born.
Nowadays your cake can be pretty much any design you can imagine. From a beautifully ornate cake with handmade sugar flowers to cupcakes piled high, to a ‘naked’ cake decorated with fruit and petals, your favourite style and flavour of cake can be made.
If you don’t have a sweet tooth then you can go down the route of a ‘cheese’ cake with rounds of your favourite cheeses. Common ones to use include Cheddar, Stilton and Goats Cheese.
Why is wine and champagne drunk at weddings? Why is the champagne toast a wedding tradition?
Of course, throughout the ages, wine has been used for a celebration. For many, wine has signified life, vitality and love. Drinking wine from a common cup has been the intimate mark of sharing – we see this in the Christian wedding ceremony in particular.
Both the feeding of the wedding cake and the wine toast could be a derivation of the Christian wedding ceremony where the bride and groom both drink from the same cup and eat the bread.
The tradition of drinking champagne to mark a celebration originated in the Royal courts of Europe in the 18th century, where the pricey drink was a social status symbol, associated with luxury and aristocracy. It is said to mark the joy of an occasion and also the abundance as it overflows and sparkles. In Russia, the tradition is to throw champagne glasses at the floor at a wedding – how decadent!
What are you planning for your Wedding Cake? What style are you going for? Will you be toasting with Champagne or choosing another drink for your celebrations? Hope you enjoyed this little look at the Wedding Cake traditions and Champagne toast.
If you liked the look of some of the amazing cakes I have featured here (believe me, they all tasted as good as they looked…well, it’s all part of the job!) here are links to the website of some of the cake makers.
Thanks for popping by and do make sure to check out the next in the series all about the Wedding Party and why you have a Best Man and Bridesmaids.