Everything changes over time, it’s a concept we’re all vey familiar with. Especially today, when it seems things are changing 10x faster than they used to and it’s become a lot more noticeable. But some things do still manage to change without us noticing, and for me one of these things is wedding cakes. This only came to my attention the other day as I was leafing through some old family photo albums and found a picture of my parents on their wedding day standing next to a monstrous, pillared structure covered in icing, lace, flowers and creepy-looking cherubs… a far cry from the sleek, colour-co-ordinated, contemporary masterpiece wedding cakes of today.
So I’ve done a little digging and discovered that wedding cakes have, in fact gone through some major make-overs during the last 100 years, and it’s pretty darn incredible to say the least! Have a read through and see if you can spot your wedding cake on the list and more importantly… enjoy!
The 1910’s was a simple era and the wedding cakes certainly reflected this. Usually made from a traditional sponge cake baked in the bride’s home and decorated with a layer of plain white icing with and a sprinkling of natural flowers. Simple yet effective, and very elegant.
They stepped it up a notch (or 5) in the 1920’s. As you can see, they pretty much went in the completely opposite direction, with thanks to the “Roaring 20s” movement. Art Deco designs, bold geometric shapes, metallic colours and a minature vase filled with natural flowers placed gently on the top.
Fun Fact: When King George VI got married in 1923 and his cake was 10 feet high and weighed 800 pounds!
The 1930’s is when the craze of having a teeny tiny little Bride and Groom settled on top of your wedding cake began. It’s also when the tradition of the Bride and Groom cutting the cake together in front of all their loved ones began!
In the 1940’s the Bride and Groom figurines continued to be a popular addition but with a slight difference in detail; the groom figure was often dressed in military attire due to the ongoing war. This also meant that wedding cakes had to be simplified once again, and often contained less butter, eggs and milk with added cinnemon, nutmeg and cloves for flavour.
The 1950’s was a glorious time to have a wedding, rationing has just ended and it gave everybody the excuse to just go absolutely mad. This was really reflected in the wedding cake styles back then, with some wedding cakes reaching up to 6 tiers which were adorned in a mass amount of plastic figurines and fine quality fruits. They also put liquor into some of the tiers, so you were guaranteed to have a god time!
FUN FACT: Grace Kelly and Prince Ranier III of Monaco had a six-tiered wedding cake which included a three-dimensional replica of Monaco’s Pink Palace
1960’s wedding cake were heavily inspired by celebrity weddings, which meant they became even taller and more elegant… and a whole lot more expensive. a good example of this is the wedding cake of Elvis and Pricilla Presley; their six-tier wedding cake become iconic during this time and cost $3,200… which in today’s economy is around $22,000!
This is the era my parent’s wedding cake would fall under… and I’m 99% sure my Dad wore that exact tux in the right hand picture. This is the year bakers really started experimenting with new designs, and it shows. These cakes were usually decorated using almond paste and royal icing, which were accompanied by pretty much anything from ribbons to bells to tiny plastic ornaments and edible flowers.
I’m not going to lie, the 80’s is possibly my absolute favourite era for wedding cakes. I mean, just look at them. They’re amazing. Straying away from the traditional “tiers in a straight line” design they began to (literally) branch out into other adventurous angles and designs… some which even included teeny tiny fountains! SO CUTE.
After the wild ride of the 80s, wedding cakes calmed down again in terms of structure in the 1990s. Design-wise however they were a game-changer. Edible ink printing was developed in this era along with a variety of different piping techniques, and there was really no limit as to what could be done. There was also huge influx of traditional tone in wedding cakes, with most reverting back to cream or ivory colours.
The 2000’s were the era of the ingenious cupcake wedding cake phenomenon thanks to hit tv show at the time; Sex & The City. This is also when couples began to get creative with the traditional Bride and Groom figurines, and thus the ever-so cheeky “Ball & Chain” design was born. These cakes were usually colour co-ordinated to match the brides gown or general wedding decorations.
And that brings us to the 2010’s. In regards to wedding cake etiquette, there seem’s to be absolutely no rules anymore… but in a good way! Couple’s have really started to make their wedding cakes their own, with many choosing an extremely personalised or “novelty” theme which showcases their relationship. We’ve also seen the birth of the very delicate and beautiful watercolour wedding cakes, which are a little on the more elegant side of things.
There we have it, 100 years of wedding cakes. Some big, some small, some very slightly insane, but all incredibly special. Did you see your style on the list? More importantly… are you one of the lucky ones who got married in the 80’s with an absolutely INSANE wedding cake? Maybe your big day is looming and you have yet to find the perfect cake to go with your perfect day. Let us know below!