The History Of Wedding Cakes And The Rise Of Wedding Cake Alternatives

Are wedding cakes becoming… outdated? With the rise of cookie towers, large shareable tiramisus, and wedding cake alternatives galore, are we witnessing the extinction of the traditional tiered cake?!

While the wedding dessert is one of our favorite parts of the wedding reception, it’s been through a bit of a makeover over the past few years. From a cupcake tower that’ll make your jaw drop, to mini cheesecakes at a destination wedding, what defines a wedding dessert is everchanging.

Let’s dive into one of the most delicious debates in the wedding world: the wedding cake tradition!

Traditional White Wedding cake

Image via @modernweddingcakes

As your go-to source for all things weddings, we have seen some new and more modern brides take on the age-old question of whether to stick with tradition and go all-in on a towering wedding cake piled with fresh fruit and marzipan, or venturing into the world of alternative desserts

So, let’s see why the wedding cake holds such a special place in our hearts (and stomachs) and why some couples are saying “I do” to new dessert options at their wedding reception.

White traditional tiered wedding cake

Image via @sincerelysamcakes

Slice Through History: The Origins of Wedding Cakes and Desserts

When and where did the wedding cake become the go-to for a reception dessert? This tradition dates all the way back from Ancient Rome and Medieval England.

While they may not have been as extravagant as the multi-tiered layer cake we see brides ordering today, the old simple wheat or barley cakes—sometimes adorned with fruits or nuts—were the foundation of this delicious tradition. And yes, while it may seem plain and boring to us, it got the job done! 

Fast forward a couple hundred years to the Renaissance Era! Weddings back then were like stepping into a fairytale, complete with jaw-dropping cakes that were more like edible masterpieces. These weren’t your run-of-the-mill desserts; they were next-level creations that showed off the skills of bakers and confectioners.

So, when you bite into a fancy wedding cake today, you’re not just tasting sweetness—you’re experiencing a slice of history where piped flourish tells a story of skill and artistry passed down through the ages. Pretty neat, huh?

Well, the flavors and layers of cake weren’t the only thing that evolved, the deeper and more symbolic meaning of the cake with traditions that followed also evolved!

Over time, this tradition evolved into the more elaborate cakes and a tradition of “Cake cutting” instead of the breaking over the head… which the Medieval Era normalised. Thankfully, am I right? But the cake cutting still has an element of symbolism too, carrying on tradition in a modernized way. 

The hand-over-hand while cutting the cake, for instance, is all about representing the strength and unity throughout a couple’s long marriage.

As for the wedding guests, having cake after it has been cut by the couple is believed to bring good luck, and of course finishing a night of celebrations with a tasty treat is never something to complain about!

Cake vs. Everything Else: The Rise of The Wedding Cake Alternative

Now, fast forward to 2024, and we’ve seen some innovative takes on wedding cake alternatives. Some couples are ditching the classic wedding cake in favor of something a little more… unexpected.

From decadent dessert bars to trendy donut walls, and everything in between. Maybe it’s the budget, practicality or just a dislike of cake. Who can blame them! But don’t worry cake enthusiasts, because there are still plenty of ways to incorporate your favorite baker into the mix.

With the world of innovation, alternative dessert options are all the rage now. From bite sized cupcakes, to different styles of cakes, the possibilities are endless. Pavlovas, Mille-feuille cakes, or even new flavors like pistachio, mango, and tiramisu-flavored and more.

Wedding Cake Alternatives

Image via @squidgerandwatsoncakes

How To Innovate Your Dessert Table

Churros cake table

Image via @Intricakes

Croquembouche Tower Wedding Cake Alternative

Image via @thefrenchlettuce

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Image via @cakesbyevie_

Image via @stefanotis.weddings

What is a Traditional Italian Wedding Cake?

Image via @johncainphotography

This adds such a cute and memory worthy element to your big day, and is still different to a traditional cake.

Wedding Cake Tradition & A Dash of Innovation:

Let’s still take a moment, amidst all the tradition changing and innovation, to appreciate the culinary, sweet-treat-making bakers that pull together vision boards and ideas into a dessert for everyone.

These talented artisans have been delighting taste buds and capturing hearts with their intricate wedding cake creations for generations. Using their creative minds to mould fondant into cakes that are too pretty to eat, showing that their attention to detail is truly unmatched. 

So, don’t be afraid to have detailed conversations with your favorite baker because they are generally able to turn your wedding dessert dreams into a reality––whether it’s a wedding cake, wedding crepe, or even a cheesecake with a thousand layers!

Let Them Eat Cake (or Not)!

So, no matter if it is a cake or if it’s an ice cream bar, the sweet part about desserts is that most everyone will enjoy it!  Whether you’re team wedding cake, team wedding cupcakes, or team anything-but-cake, the most important thing is to choose the dessert that you envision eating on your day!

So, how do you envision your wedding day? Eating traditional tiered wedding cake, or opting for a wedding cake alternative? That’s for you (and your soon to be spouse!) to decide!


Posted in Cakes & Desserts, Trending, Wedding Traditions by wedded wonderland

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