The wedding cake has its origins as a fertility symbol
in Roman antiquity when a cake, rather than being eaten, was broken
over the bride's head.
The cake idea developed over the centuries into a series of several
cakes placed on top of one another. When the tower of cakes was sufficiently
high to present a challenge, the bride and groom would stand on opposite
sides of the cake and attempt to kiss while trying not to cause the
tower to fall. Good fortune could be expected if the kiss was successful.
This tradition is carried over to today's wedding cake which often sees
the cakes in tiers with the kissing couple on top.
Today it has become traditional to cut the cake at the reception following
the meal and after the speeches and gifts have been given. It is the
last formal part of the wedding and should mark the end of the reception
- although, these days, the reception will very often carry on unbroken
into the evening party.
The bride and groom make the first cut of the cake together,
after which it is taken away by the staff at the reception venue and
divided into portions which are then distributed among the guests at
the reception. It is common to keep a number of portions back for people
who were unable to attend the wedding.
Note: if you are planning to send a piece of cake abroad by post, make
sure the country to which you are sending it allows foodstuffs to be
sent through the mail. Not all do.
Today's wedding cake is traditionally a fruit cake topped by royal icing.
The fruit cake is chosen because it can keep for much longer than sponge
or other cakes and will seldom if ever go mouldy, thus allowing it to
be sent to people who couldn't make it to the wedding. The top layer
of icing on a single cake or the top cake in a tiered cake is kept for
the christening on the couple's first child.