The Wedding Cake
Cutting the wedding cake is now part of the ritual celebrations at the reception. The couple make the first cut together to symbolize their shared future.
Cakes have been associated with weddings throughout history. The Romans shared a cake during the wedding ceremony itself. This was not the rich fruit-cake we enjoy today. It was a plain confection made from wheat flour, salt and water. The Fijians and Some Native American tribes still incorporate cake in the wedding ceremonies.
In Britain early cakes were flat and round and contained fruit and nuts which symbolize fertility.
In the past the custom was to throw many small cakes over the bride in a similar way in which we throw confetti today. A modification of this custom was to crumble cake over the brides head and in some versions to break the cake over the Bride's head. In Scotland Oat Cakes were used for this purpose. This was done to promote fertility.
In Yorkshire a plate holding wedding cake was thrown out of the window as the bride returned to her parental home after the wedding. If the plate broke she would enjoy a happy future with her husband but if the plate remained intact her future would be grim.
Another old English custom was to place a ring in the wedding cake. The guest who found the ring in their the piece of cake would be ensured happiness for the next year.
The shape of the modern three tiered iced cake is believed to have been inspired by the spire of Saint Bride's Church in the City of London. It is said that unmarried guests who place a piece of wedding cake under their pillow before sleeping will increase there prospects of finding a partner and bridesmaids who do likewise will dream of their future husbands.
The top tier of the cake is often kept by couples for the christening of their first child.