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Why a traditional wedding cake always has three tiers and not four

Bridal - By The Mirror | February 21st 2017 at 09:00:30 GMT +0300
Photo: Shutterstock

Diving into the cake before the bride and groom have cut it is not okay

A wedding isn't really a wedding without a cake. And while some favour more original ideas, a fair few still opt for the traditional tiered fancy, covered in white icing and topped with flowers and figurines.

But while you might have thought the tiers on a wedding cake are purely aesthetic, each holds significance – and there's a reason a true, authentic bake always comes with three.

You might be aware, but the traditions of old dictate that the bottom tier is for eating after the ceremony. The bride and groom slice into it, and a long queue forms.

You don't have to have three tiers...

The top tier is saved for the first child's christening. Back in the day, this was often an event that followed soon after the big day.

The bottom tier, meanwhile, is for eating at the ceremony. These days, people sometimes distribute the middle tier after the event as a thank you to guests. But many still follow tradition and keep it for the first wedding anniversary.

And you don't have to go for fruit cake

Wedding cake

Some people just get a vanilla sponge and nothing is saved, which is fine

Wedding cakes date back to medieval times, but back then were usually made of wheat, and weren't the sweet fruity delights of today. Historians say that the cake wasn't eaten, but thrown at the bride as a symbol of fertility. Bit harsh.

The cakes we enjoy today became a thing in the early 19th century, largely thanks to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who wed in 1840. It's then that three tiers really became the 'proper' way.

Obviously, keeping cake only works with a classic fruit cake, which can last years. The style is said to have been invented by London pastry chef William Rich (1755-1812), who modelled his own on the steeple of St Bride’s church in the capital.


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