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What have the Romans ever done for us?

The wedding cake – the beginning of a tradition

Although many view the wedding cake as an essential part of the wedding day

paraphernalia, it wasn’t always such an elaborate confection.

The origins of this shared sweet treat have their roots in Ancient Rome. History suggests

that a simple barley or wheat scone-like cake was broken over the bride’s head for luck and

together was the newlyweds’ first official act as a married couple. The guests would be able

to have their share of the crumbs only once the bride and groom have had their fill.

Naturally, the Romans brought this tradition with them when they invaded Britain.

However, the custom became throwing the bread at the bride as a sign of fertility. I’m not

sure I’d fancy being a reveller’s target practice, but I guess times were different.

Stacked cakes and iced buns

Over the centuries, the single wheat cake was upgraded to spiced buns, which were stacked.

The bride and groom were challenged to kiss over the stacked cakes. Legend suggests they

would be blessed with good luck if they kissed without knocking over the stacked buns,

scones and cookies.

This stack of baked treats began the tiered cakes we see today. However, I am unsure how

well it would go with the health and safety officers when they see couples standing on

ladders and kissing over today’s tall cakes!

Cutting your wedding cake

Fast forward to the 21st century, and cutting your wedding cake is the most photographed

moment of your day. It is the first act you undertake as man and wife and watched by all

your guests. This part of your day is likely to be the most talked about (after the speeches),

with all your guests seeing your centrepiece, a bespoke piece of edible art commissioned by


So, if you ever ask yourself, ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ they have given us

the wedding cake - probably the most iconic element of your wedding day.

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