Wedding Cakes and Traditions With Marks & Spencer

wpid381695 marks and spencer pale blue wedding cake

Over the last few years, we’ve all got a lot braver when it comes to wedding planning. Instead of following a set pattern, we’re now doing things our own way, making weddings personal and unique. More and more couples are happily ditching traditions that don’t suit and bringing new elements into their plans.  However, one wedding favourite that seems to be more popular than ever is the wedding cake. But why do we serve these beautiful bakes at weddings and how have they changed over time?

Today, with our friends at Marks & Spencer we’re taking a mouthwatering look at wedding cakes through the years…

wedding cakes

Made to bring good luck to the happy couple and the guests, wedding cakes have evolved from a number of matrimonial traditions. Going back to medieval times, sweet rolls and buns were piled up and then the bride and groom would try to kiss over the stack of baked goodies – a successful kiss meant a long and happy life together. This ancient ritual then inspired the Croquemboche, the delightful French wedding cake made from profiteroles and spun sugar.

Delicous and affordable Marks & Spencer Wedding Cakes

White Chocolate Ribbons Cake
£249.00 (£3.33 per 100g)

The wedding cake itself evolved from the 17th century Bride’s Pie and a sweeter cake replaced this savoury dessert as tastes and styles changed over the years. This is the moment when fruitcakes burst onto the wedding scene as these luxurious bakes were seen as symbols of prosperity and, most importantly for the men, fertility. At this time, two cakes were served – one for the groom and one for the bride. The groom’s cake, darker and smaller than the bride’s, eventually became a thing of the past and the bride’s cake, covered in white icing to represent purity, lived on.

Delicous and affordable Marks & Spencer Wedding Cakes

Birdcage Wedding Cake
£349.00 (£3.88 per 100g)

In fact, the white icing was also a way that families displayed their wealth at weddings as pure, refined sugar was both hard to obtain and costly to buy so it was only the richest families that could afford to have white icing. The larger the cake, the more white icing was required and the more costly it would be so large, iced cakes became an important symbol of social status. In fact, when Queen Victoria’s giant wedding cake was covered in thick icing, the pure white frosting was rechristened as ‘Royal Icing’.

marks and spencer cupcakes

Assorted cupcakes

By the 20th century, cakes had become such a central part of the wedding feast that during the food shortages caused by rationing in both World Wars, white cardboard covers were used in lieu of icing when sugar was among just one of the ingredients that was severely rationed. Friends and family would contribute fruit, eggs, butter, sugar and the other ingredients needed so that couples could still have a cake of sorts at their reception.

It’s only relatively recently that we’ve started to step away from tiered fruitcakes with white icing and now chocolate or flavoured sponge cakes, such as those available from Marks & Spencer, are tasty alternatives and individual cupcakes, smaller cakes or even savoury options are all available. Chocolate coatings, coloured or painted icing and gorgeous naked cakes covered with flowers, fruits, jewels and glittered or geometric designs are all possible complete with bunting or sparkling cake toppers. It’s fair to say that the wedding cake has come a long way!

Delicous and affordable Marks & Spencer Wedding Cakes

Shimmering Hoop Chocolate Wedding Cake
£249.00 (£3.36 per 100g)

However, even the most modern of couples with an eye for the alternative are likely to stick to a number of cake based wedding traditions. The cutting of the cake is symbolic of the couple joining together and sharing a piece of wedding cake represents togetherness and the promise to provide for one another. We should count ourselves lucky though because in some countries, the cake is crumbled over the bride’s head to bring good luck, which seems to me to be a horrible waste of yummy cake (not to mention the ruin of a beautiful hairstyle!).

If you’re a bridesmaid-to-be reading this feature and you’ve yet to find the man of your dreams, folklore states that sleeping with a piece of the wedding cake under your pillow on the night of the wedding will make you dream of your future husband so once you’ve caught the bouquet, grab a piece of cake and head home as soon as possible!

Delicous and affordable Marks & Spencer Wedding Cakes

Romantic Pearl Gluten Free Wedding Cake

Finally, if you’ve got more self-control around cake than I have, you might like to keep some of your cake (usually a small fruity layer) to use either at the christening of your first child or as a centrepiece for your first wedding anniversary celebrations. Why not order a small fruitcake to keep and then you can enjoy a second (or third!) slice of fabulous wedding cake without worry!

Traditional, vintage and contemporary Wedding cakes from Marks & Spencer can be ordered online or in store and you can find your nearest store on their website. Cakes range in price but even the most expensive is currently less than £350 with cutting cakes available for under £20.

To find out more about the available designs, simply take a look at mouthwatering wedding cake section on the Marks & Spencer website.

Love Tamryn x


This is a sponsored post.

Tamryn Settle

Tamryn Settle View all Tamryn's articles

Self-confessed wedding addict Tamryn spends her days in her Berkshire studio writing about all things beautiful and romantic with her black Labrador for company.

2 thoughts on “Wedding Cakes and Traditions With Marks & Spencer

  1. Wow I find it hard to digest that you are advertising M&S when you could have actually taken the opinion of all the cake suppliers you have listed under little book for brides, to say that even the most expensive cake costs less that £350 is just taking business away from cake designer who do actually put in a lot of effort in making cakes for brides and grooms.

    1. Hi Jason,

      We are coming to the end of a short term partnership with Marks and Spencer and agreed to produce this feature for them months ago, which we did so very willingly as M&S is a British brand I am proud for Love My Dress to be associated with.

      Thanks for expressing your concern, but we are very committed to supporting our Little Book For Brides members. We’re recruiting a new team member next week who will be responsible for promoting our members through social media. Also, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but we’ve launched a new series of Sunday posts, where we share the advice of our Little Book For Brides members in a themed feature. Our inaugural feature went live last week and focussed on wedding planning – you will find it here: Tomorrow, we will be sharing the advice of wedding photographers listed in Little Book For Brides and we have a feature in the pipeline that will pull on the advice and opinions of our listed cake designers.

      So I appreciate your concern but please rest assured that we’ve already got it covered 🙂

      One final thought – I turn down many large corporate organisations or businesses I don’t feel are aligned with our vision, aesthetic and values when it comes to advertising, or who I think would compromise my commitment to supporting small businesses and artisans. We were however approached by Marks and Spencer via an agency months ago (January this year in fact) and given that many of the weddings we have featured actually include M&S cakes, we felt that on this occasion, a partnership with M&S would be appropriate and relevant. Furthermore, we have only just launched Little Book For Brides so haven’t had chance yet to launch our full programme of support and marketing out. Please remember however that we are gifting every single business listed with a completely free entry until the end of December, so on the contrary to your suggestion that we are working to take business away from those cake designers listed in our Little Book – I would argue that we are doing everything we can to actually generate enquiries for these businesses. We only launched on 22nd and have months of developments and planned marketing to roll out yet.

      Thanks so much for expressing your honest thoughts, which will always be welcome.

      Best wishes,

      Annabel xx

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