Let Them Eat Cake

By Margaret Clay

It is always exciting when we begin production on one of our biannual bridal issues. Everyone loves pouring over the beautiful photography, marveling at the creative choices expressive of the bride and groom, and reading the heartwarming story of their romance.

As children, when my sisters and I were lucky enough to accompany our parents to a wedding, the topic that consumed our eager anticipation was always the wedding cake. The ceremony would surely be lovely, the flowers beautiful, and the first dance charming, but we viewed everything as building to an ultimate climax — the cutting of the cake. Would it be the traditional “wedding cake” vanilla flavor? Almond? Perhaps a hint of lemon? And most importantly, would it have the sugary, almost crunchy icing?

Helen, my youngest sister, perfected the art of scoring the most icing possible per slice. She was a petite child and would wait in the wings as the caterer cut and served a tier of the cake. When they reached the end, she would slip in and secure the last piece, a veritable sheet of icing.

This penchant for capturing enviable slices of wedding cake seems to stem from a genetic predisposition. At my parents’ wedding in 1984, they set down the premier slice to enjoy the interlocked sip of champagne first. When they turned back to feed each other their first bites, the plate had disappeared without a trace. It was only when they received their photography back two months later that they apprehended the culprit — in the photo of their celebratory champagne toast, while everyone’s attention was diverted on the happy couple, my then 3-year-old cousin was captured peeping around the skirt of the table with arm outstretched, her fingers gripping the plate.

Young girls have long held wedding cake as a special object of desire. The tradition of their taking a piece home to sleep on (and thereby dream of their future husbands) dates back to the 17th century. Another favorite, time-honored tradition is that of preserving the top tier for the first anniversary celebration. This originates from the 19th century custom of saving it for the first child’s christening, but later, when couples began waiting to start their families, evolved into an anniversary festivity. My mother was so enamored with the concept of wedding cake on their anniversary that she decided to make it a yearly tradition and for years would order a small, one-tiered cake from Parkland Bakery.

Whether you have a wedding-filled calendar this summer or not, vicariously enjoy the beautiful celebrations featured on pages 40 and 54 in this issue while looking forward to your next opportunity for wedding cake!

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