Wedding Planning Q&A

Why are Wedding Cakes Important? with Terry Hatfield


Why are Wedding Cakes Important? Terry from Terrific Cakes shares the history of the unusual traditions that form the basis of why we have cakes at Weddings

Listen to Terry on the Wedding Espresso Awesome DIY Wedding Planning Podcast…


Terry Hatfield from Terrific Cakes


James: [00:00:03] Terry Hello. 

Terry: [00:00:05] Hello. 

James: [00:00:08]

Brides and Grooms have been asking us recently why are wedding cakes important? 

Terry: [00:00:16] Well, Wedding Cakes date back a long time, going back to medieval times. At that time it would have been a weak bread which formed part of the wedding ceremony. And the reason for it was to ensure fertility for the couple and the bread was actually thrown at the bride, but I wouldn’t recommend that nowadays. Things went on quite a long way around nineteen hundred years ago. The Romans also used a similar tradition in their wedding ceremonies. The difference was that they broke… the groom ate part of the bread and then broke the rest of it over the bride’s head. And apparently the people that were at the wedding, scrambled for the crumbs for the good luck to rub off on them. And the tradition for that was good fortune. Blessings for a long life. And the guests would scramble for the crumbs to try and get the same thing. 

Terry: [00:01:22] And apparently also, only the people that used the tradition at their wedding were allowed to go for high office. If they didn’t have this tradition, they weren’t allowed to go for high office, which is something quite unusual. Things moved on quite a lot over the years and “wedding cakes” came into it a little bit later on, with a single tiered cake, which was also called the bride’s cake at that time. The reason for that was because the bride was the person who cut the cake at that particular time, until we come along to Victorian times. Apparently it was a Frenchman that came into the country, whose name is not known, but he was the one that started off with the tiered cakes. Because they were fruitcakes, they had to be covered in marzipan and royal icing in those days. The tradition of decorating the cakes was a bit simpler to what it is now, and then there was only piping and things like that then. Unlike now where we use sugar paste and we can do a lot of different things with the cakes. 

Terry: [00:02:35]

The reason that the wedding cake is the most important part of the ceremony is because nowadays the tradition is for the bride and groom to cut the cake.

And the reason for that is because that is traditionally the first act that a couple performed together as a couple, before they start the family. Although things have changed a little bit over the years. Nowadays people have the family before they do the Wedding. But you know, these traditions are all part of it, and in comparison with a lot of the other things that we have at weddings now, which make it more expensive, the wedding cake is still the central piece at the wedding and most people want to see the bride, they want to see the cake. Everything else is just an add on. 

James: [00:03:21] Sure, it actually sounds like traditionally then the wedding cake has its roots in paganism. 

Terry: [00:03:27] Oh it is yeah. We don’t know how far it goes back. All we know is that it started around about medieval times. But it could go back even further that. You know, historians only started writing down at a later stage. So we only have it on hearsay nowadays. So we know what we’ve been told. 

James: [00:03:47] Yeah, yeah. I doubt many people realise that actually, that it is such an ancient tradition.

Well we’ve actually just got a couple of fun questions for you if you don’t mind. The first one is if I said to you “best wedding ever”. What comes to mind? 

Terry: [00:04:08] Oh that’s a big question. Best wedding ever… 

James: [00:04:11] It’s a tricky one. 

Terry: [00:04:13] What I would say that probably the best wedding ever are probably things like the royal weddings which get a lot of coverage. The whole country is interested in that sort of thing. Dating back to the queen’s wedding cake. In fact I have actually got a book that has got a picture of her wedding cake, which was massive. But in those days, they were very, very ornate and it took a team of people to do a wedding cake for that sort of thing you know. Things have changed a bit now with the latter weddings, the more recent weddings are more onto your traditional sort of thing. 

Terry: [00:04:48] My cat’s trying to get on my knees. 

James: [00:04:56] So to round things out with you then Terry.

What was the biggest commission that you ever had for wedding cakes? 

Terry: [00:05:04] That’s easy! I did a Gypsy Wedding and they had 21 wedding cakes. 

James: [00:05:09] 21. 

Terry: [00:05:11] 21. 

James: [00:05:12] Wow! 

Terry: [00:05:15] I think it’s on the yell.com page that I have, and I think it’s somewhere on my Facebook page as well. It was actually made up of a 4 tier castle. They actually had a three tier table made for the cake especially for it. And the 4 tier Castle went on the top of the cake. Myself and the groom’s father had to climb up two step ladders to get that up there. This was all fruitcake as well, which is really heavy. They had six 3 tier castles. 8 two tier castles and then six square cakes forming the ladder up the centre. The whole thing would have been floodlit. There were night lights on all the cakes so they could light the whole thing up. So at night, the whole thing was lit up. 

James: [00:06:06] What a spectacle! Did you do that by yourself or did you have to draft in some extra volunteers to help you? 

Terry: [00:06:12] No I did it by myself actually. It took a month to do it but there again like I say it was fruitcakes, so we could work in advance with it because obviously there is no time limit on those. Had I to do that now… that would be a bit difficult, especially if they didn’t want fruit cake, I’d have to say no. I have done five tier cakes and we have done cakes that go into the thousands. Cost wise you know, but it depends on what people want. You know like I said on the Meet Up, Wedding Cakes… There is so much between the North and the South of England so it depends where you are in the country as to how much they are. Be careful who you go to because there are a lot people out there doing cheap cakes and I would be very wary of somebody doing a cheap cake. 

James: [00:07:00] Absolutely. Well Terry thanks very much for that. That’s all we have time for so thank you for the introduction to where the history of wedding cakes comes from. I’m sure that’s going to be very interesting to people. 

Terry: [00:07:11] And I have posted that on my Facebook page as well on Terrific Cake Design so people can have a look on there. There’s a lot more information on it, that’s just the gist of it. 

James: [00:07:28] Fantastic, well thanks again. Thanks very much. We’ll see you soon. 

Terry: [00:07:31] OK. See you soon! Bye! 

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