Design of a Bridal Cake

Photo courtesy of Amy Karp Photography

Cake by Sweet Art Bakery


Mmmm….caaaake.  Easily my favorite part of any reception or party.  For modern weddings, it’s become an ephemeral work of art, supporting the wedding’s theme and colors, and garnering its own moment in the evening’s festivities.  But what elevated this dessert from a sweet ending to – in many cases – the star of the show?

Generally, bridal cake started out as a blessing for the newly married bride, and thereby the bride’s house.  Ancient Romans used to break a cake over the head of the bride to invoke good fortune, and then the crumbs were consumed by the bride, groom, and guests.  That evolved into dribbling some crumbs over the bride and handing out an old-school form of trail mix to the guests instead of making them pick up cake crumbs from the floor.  With all of the conquering that occurred over the next few centuries, new cultures’ traditions were absorbed into Western weddings as people from these cultures intermarried, including many special dishes that symbolized good health, prosperity, and luck.


Photo courtesy of Absolute Photography

Cake by The Cake Guys


Eventually we see a special meat pie being created for the bride with all guests having to partake in eating it or run the risk of being thought rude.  The bride’s pie again became the bride’s cake sometime in the seventeenth century, with many superstitions surrounding the making, slicing, and eating of it.  We see many of them endure to today, though the meanings have been lost through the ages: the couple must make the first slice together to ease their way into married life, all of the guests must eat a piece to insure the happy couple have many children, and keeping a piece of the cake after the wedding means a bride’s new husband will remain faithful.


Photo courtesy of Apryl Ann Photography

Cake by Layered Bake Shop


But what of the design of the cake?  Was it always the elaborate show-piece it’s become today?  As different types of cake have been available and popular throughout the centuries, the answer hasn’t always been yes, but the bride’s cake became traditionally white-iced in the seventeenth century, as well, when a popular baker of the time circulated a recipe for a bride’s cake that included an icing made from twice-refined sugar (what we currently know as powdered sugar, or confectioner’s sugar).  When the Victorian era came along, with its popularization of the symbolism of the virgin bride, the Queen set the new standard with her orange-blossom bouquet, bright white dress, and multi-tiered, overly elaborate, thrice-refined sugar iced white bride’s cake.  At the time, sugar that had been refined 3 times gave a bright white color to the icing and was hideously expensive.  But Victoria’s tastes tricked down into commoners’ weddings, and they’ve persisted unto today.


Photo courtesy of Amy Karp Photography

Cake by The Cake Guys

Luckily for those folks who prize a more clean, modern look, that level of symbolism hasn’t remained, allowing wiggle room for the cake to become a piece of the overall look.  Cake design is one of the easiest ways to incorporate a unique color scheme or theme into a reception.  Therefore, design trends for cakes are ever-evolving.  New techniques and tools are constantly changing the landscape and making way for more innovation and the refining of traditional styles.


Photo courtesy of Miranda Marrs Photography

Cake by Frosted Art Bakery


Some trends we’ve seen come and go (and stay!) in the last few years have been ombre, naked cakes, rough-textured/rustic cakes, hanging cakes, and even upside-down cakes!  Those trends alone show how diverse and specific cake design has become, especially when you consider that the neo-classical ornate decoration we refer to has “traditional” has never left, adding yet another layer (ahem) to the styles being represented.


Photo courtesy of Krystle Akin Photography

Cake by Sweet Art Bakery


In more recent events, we’ve seen chalkboard cakes (though chalkboard signs have been a mainstay for rustic events for a while), drip cakes, and a return to the classic elevated tiers, either filled with floral or open-air.  No doubt the brides and grooms out there with more modern tastes are also noticing an uptick in smooth marbled and gold-leafed designs, utilizing stacked tiers that are different heights and shapes.  With wedding trends predicted to return to more simple, modern, and elegant affairs, we’re sure to be seeing more 2-tiered sleek cake designs popping up to go with them.

What did your wedding cake look like?  Or if you haven’t been married yet, what are your favorite designs right now?  What other cake trends have you noticed? Contact us to share your opinions or to get some advice for your wedding cake.

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