Traditions & customs are a big point of discussion for most couples as they outline their wedding day. Often times, family & friends have opinions to contribute on the subject and this can lead to a couple making decisions to include or not include specific elements that they might not want to.

We definitely think there's something to be said for tradition- we love our family's holiday traditions and understand the beauty of participating in a custom that has been passed down from generation to generation.  Tradition has its place in our lives and special meaning to certain people so we don't believe you should bunk it all- unless of course, that's what you feel in your heart you want to do! But we definitely don't think couples should do something for the "sake of" tradition. 

In a series of posts this week, we're talking about the origin of some of these traditions as well as some of the elements of a wedding that our couples often reconsider or forgo altogether. 

photo:  Erin Tetterton Photography  | Cake & Sugar Flowers:  Fleur & Flour

photo: Erin Tetterton Photography | Cake & Sugar Flowers: Fleur & Flour

#2 - Cake

The Traditions

The wedding cake has come a long way from its origination in Rome where marriages were sealed when the groom smashed a barley cake over the bride's head - perhaps where the practice of smashing cake in the each other's faces came from... And thank goodness the practice of cake has moved past the 17th century British "Bride's Pye" made of cockscombs, lamb testicles, sweetbreads, oysters, and spices. 

Legend has it that the tiered wedding cake came as a result of a baker’s apprentice in late 18th-century London. The story goes that said apprentice, William Rich, fell in love with his boss’s daughter. He wanted to impress her with a large, beautiful cake when he asked her to marry him and his inspiration came from the spire of a cathedral.

The custom was also popular for bakers to make cakes as tall as possible and the wedding couple's fate was determined by whether they successfully could kiss over the towering layers. Today, cakes tend to be at least three tiers. 

And saving the top tier? Due to the special and expensive nature of cakes, and to bring good luck from their past to their futures, couple's would save the top tier of the cake until the christening of their first child. 

Cakes as we tend to think of them today - big & white - really started to become popular at the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1840. Sugar was cheaper than it had even been and therefore it was easier for working class families to imitate the weddings of the rich. Due to the white color of sugar, it became a natural color for traditional cakes. 


Photo:  Erin Tetterton Photography  | Cake & Sugar Flowers:  Fleur & Flour

Photo: Erin Tetterton Photography | Cake & Sugar Flowers: Fleur & Flour

The Alternative

Please don't get the wrong idea. We've been known to eat multiple slices of wedding cake in one night and think they can be beautiful additions to a wedding day... Look at the example above from Fleur & Flour. I mean... those sugar flowers are a serious work of art. 

But not everyone loves cake the way we do. So here are some ideas how to update the traditional wedding cake:

- Bite-sized Desserts: We know. This isn't a new idea but it's still one we love. Bite-sized desserts either placed on a display or, even better, tray passed with coffee and champagne to guests on the dance floor, are a great way to get both a variety of options and to personalize the sweet choices. 

- Custom Plated Desserts - When someone thinks of a wedding, they don't expect a dessert option such as an ice cream sundae, but we know for a fact that this dessert option is a favorite. Why not surprise guests with a favorite ice cream treat plated following entrees. 

- Interactive Dessert Stations - Give guests sweet & fun. Crepes, s'mores, churros, milkshakes (add booze to up your game), waffles, custom fried on-site donuts, funnel cakes, or cotton candy all make for engaging and delicious dessert options. 

Did you miss the other posts in this series of Wedding Traditions Reconsidered?
Check them out here:

#1 - The Bouquet & Garter Toss
#2 - Favors
#4 - Waiting to See Each Other Until the Ceremony
#5 - Wearing a Veil  
#6 - TheWedding Party

About Sincerely Pete

Sincerely Pete is a full service wedding planning and design company in Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, VA with over 13 years of experience. We believe in a personal, curated & customized approach to each wedding couple we work with taking their values & personalities into account and keeping the relationship as the focus of the wedding. We plan Washington DC weddings, Virginia weddings, Maryland weddings and destination weddings all over the world. 

Contact us today for more information!