The groom's cake has always been a gift from the bride to the groom. In the 17th century, the groom's cake was a homemade fruitcake, which was soaked in liquor. Because of this adornment, the cakes became known for their extensive shelf life, and it became a tradition to eat the groom's cake at the one-year wedding anniversary, rather than the day of the wedding. Some couples still follow this tradition today.
At the end of the nineteenth century, southern brides began a new tradition. Their wedding cakes were served to guests at the reception, and the groom's cake was sliced and packaged as favors for guests to bring home in individual boxes or wrapping. Female guests were instructed to sleep with a piece of the cake under their pillow for sweet dreams about their future husband. This tradition is alive and well in the deep southern US today.
By the mid-twentieth century, the groom's cake tradition seemed to disappear from most weddings, and it wasn't until the late twentieth century that the groom's cake was rediscovered, even then being served only at the most elegant wedding receptions.
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In recent years, the traditional fruitcake began to see some variation, as chocolate and devil's food cake became more popular flavors. Modern variations retain traditional simplicity, and are not meant to overshadow the wedding cake, so they are typically limited to one or two layers tall. Today the groom's cake is often tailored to express a personal interest of the groom's or a symbol of significance to the bridal couple. It can be any flavor, shape or color, and is often served as a second dessert at the wedding reception, or at the rehearsal dinner.
No matter your take on its complex origins, the groom's cake is a wonderful way to add some variation and personality to your wedding festivities! If nothing more, perhaps this little history lesson can convince each of your bridesmaids to sleep with chocolate cake in her bed for a night! Ooh, now this is getting to be too fun!