Issue Date: May 1, 2009
City: Washington, DC
The custom of serving cake after a wedding began in ancient Greece. To finalize the wedding ceremony, the groom broke a loaf of bread over the bride’s head. The couple then ate some of the crumbs in a custom known as confarreatio – eating together. Wedding guests ate the remaining crumbs as a token of good luck.
Wedding guests brought small spiced buns to the ceremony during the Middle Ages. The buns were stacked on top of each other, forming layers. According to tradition, the marriage would be blessed with good luck if the bride and groom could kiss over the tower of stacked cakes.
In the seventeenth century the top tier was replaced with fruitcake, which could be stored longer and eaten at the christening of the couple’s first child. It was thought that sharing the lower tiers with guests increased fertility and prosperity.
Today it is customary for the bride and groom to cut the first piece of wedding cake, symbolizing their first task together as husband and wife. The bride and groom feed one another from the first slice, signifying their commitment to provide for each other.
Though the wedding cake has evolved from a loaf of bread to a mult-tiered work of art, it has kept its tradition of good fortune for the newlywed couple.