The wedding cake has always been important to the marriage celebration. In early Roman times, bread was broken over the head of the bride, representing good luck for the couple. As time passed, different foods replaced bread and were piled, the happy couple anticipated to lean it over and kiss before dismantling and serving. The contents evolved into buns and small cakes or pastries, sometimes even meat pies that were eaten as part of their meal. However, the symbolism has pretty much remained the same, that of fertility and good fortune, as the newlyweds ceremoniously cut the cake and discuss with each other before Vero Beach Wildlife Control.
Contemporary cakes are often not even edible but only disguised cardboard or styrofoam, elaborately decorated, then whisked away to the kitchen where a simple sheet cake is cut and served to the unsuspecting guests. Traditionally the top layer, often referred to as the groom’s cake, is saved and consumed at a later date, or may be different entirely. At some weddings, the cake is composed of tiered cupcakes for easy serving, or displayed on an elaborate “sweet table” of desserts where the guests can help themselves.
During the Victorian era in Britain (1800s) that the royals and elite class took the wedding cake into a new high (literally) with sweet white and cake icing for a status symbol of the bride and groom, exemplified by the lavish display served at the 1871 wedding of Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise, that took three months to finish. One has to wonder how well it held up literally throughout all that time and was it still edible. Apparently so, as pieces of the first were sold off decades later. 1 buyer described the texture as “firm,” an understatement to be sure. Although most royals favor a lavish but somewhat traditional cake, elaborate reproductions of palaces and historic landmarks have been prominently featured at some elite children’s weddings.
No more the traditional white cake or fruitcake (favored by Brits) the modern cakes have evolved into spectacles of artistry, with unique themes, sculptures, photographs and even replicas of the bride and groom themselves. They are carrot cake, chocolate or cheesecake, with colorful icing and decorations of any taste, and frequently come with a price tag far surpassing the bridal gown. Specially trained pastry chefs compete on Food Network and have their own companies which create wedding cakes exclusively.
Possibly, the most renowned wedding cake in history belongs to the character Miss Havisham in Charles Dickens’ legendary novel Great Expectations. The jilted spinster, left at the altar, spends the rest of her life in her bedroom wearing her wedding dress, the rotting wedding cake display, covered with cobwebs. Although not so striking, here are some famous modern-day cakes which deserve mention:
Actress Grace Kelly’s celebrated marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco featured a six-tiered wedding cake in their reception in 1956, also depicted a three-dimensional replica of Monaco’s Pink Palace, her soon-to-be new home.
When a radiant Elizabeth Taylor carved to a five-tiered white cake at her lavish first wedding to hotel heir Nicky Hilton in 1950, it was topped with traditional wedding bells, created by the pastry chef at the chichi Bel-Air Country Club in California. Imagine the lucky bakers who were commissioned by Elizabeth Taylor and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Even though the cakes got smaller and smaller with each subsequent union, they still had a terrific repeat business from each of the two actresses.
At the 1947 royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth, soon to become Queen of England, the 500-pound fruitcake (a traditional British favorite) stood 9 feet tall. It required 660 eggs, 300 pounds of dried nuts and fruits, and three-and-a-half gallons of Navy rum. (And some of us complain when we receive a measly two-pound fruitcake at Christmas.)
Prince Charles and Diana’s five-foot tall cake was adorned with marzipan Windsor coats of arms and was so vital to the royal celebration that a duplicate copy was created, in case of an accident.
Elvis Presley married Priscilla in 1967, where the wedding featured a large yellow cake, which came with a price tag of $22,000, a staggering amount in 1967. Made by the pastry chef at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, he proudly proclaimed the layers of his masterpiece were filled with apricot marmalade and liqueur-flavored Bavarian cream, then glazed with fondant icing, topped off with marzipan roses. Fit for a king.
Donald Trump and Melania’s cake cost $50,000 and could not be served to the guests due to the amount of wiring used to keep it intact. (Writer’s note: I do not know about anybody else, but it sounds so delicious that I’d have gladly picked out the cables and devoured it.)
No question, the wedding cake has evolved into an art form, where creativity and creativity know no boundaries. If you can dream it up, and absorb the cost, you’ll find a willing and gifted baker to make it. In the words of a famous French royal, “Let them eat cake.” Indeed.