A Short History of Wedding Cake Toppings and Wedding Cake Toppers-Part I

The modern wedding cake is an out growth of wedding traditions dating back to the Roman Empire. Wedding cake toppings, also called Wedding cake ornaments or Wedding cake toppers, are the outgrowth of a number of old traditions from around the world.

In the United States Wedding cake toppings, ornaments or toppers show up in the traditions of middle income and affluent American family’s even before the American Civil War (or for Southern families what they call “The War of Northern Aggression”) and grew in popularity to be common in the 1890’s.

Wedding cake toppings were simple in the late 19th Century. Wedding cakes were often decorated with flowers or ornament such bells and small objects that related to the bride and groom. Wedding cake toppings were commonly handcrafted and made of frosting, gum paste, icing, or plaster of Paris by a professional wedding cake baker or a member of the bride’s or groom’s family.

Decorative Wedding Cake Toppers became more popular immediately after World War I. In the 1920’s, the High Society in the US went beyond using flowers, or wedding cake toppings from the baker hands, and they eagerly adopted the use of putting bride and groom figurines on top of wedding cakes.

Historically, there are two significant events in the United States which boosted the popularity and use of wedding cake toppers in the form of small figurines of the bride and groom atop the wedding cake.

First, the well-known and highly respected American etiquette expert, Miss Emily Post, in her 1922 Best-Selling book clearly stated that the: “wedding cake is an essential of every wedding reception.” Emily Post further counseled and commented about the placement of the bride and groom figurines as a wedding cake toppings specifically that “the wedding cake is almost always ordered from the caterer who delivers it shortly before the hour of the reception. It is usually in several tiers, beautifully decorated with white icing and topped by small figures of the bride and groom.”

Secondary, American businesses and retailers including the retail giant Sears, Roebuck & Company (now Sears Brands, LLC) began marketing and selling wedding cake toppings with bride and groom figurines for the top of the wedding cake.
Wedding cake toppers in the early 20th Century commonly or usually made of small figurines of the bride in wedding dress and groom in a tuxedo standing beside each other on a stand. Some brides and groom figures were depicted under an arch or a small gazebo.
In an informative Wedding Cake Toppers article entitled, “Bride and Groom Wedding Cake Toppers,” Robert Reed wrote in the June 2006 issue of The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, “In 1924 one U.S. wholesale catalog was offering an assortment of wax bride and groom wedding cake toppers. Selections included a hatless groom or a groom wearing a "high hat" or top hat. The bride meanwhile could come with or without a cloth veil. All of the bride and groom wax figures were about two inches tall. The catalog listing offered them as a couple, or in groups of 100 for wedding favors.”

Reed added the importance of the including of wedding cake topper in the 1927 mail order catalog form Sears, Roebuck and Company: “The idea of wedding toppers in general and bride and groom toppers in particular had expanded enough in 1927 for the Sears and Roebuck mail order catalog it include a whole page of wedding cake ornaments. The following year Slack Manufacturing offered bride and groom figures made of celluloid. The bride wore a paper dress and the groom wore a paper suit. Both figures were about two and a half inches tall.”

This article is continued in Part II

Copyright © 2010-2011 Rose Haller, WeddingCakeToppings.info & WeddingLDS.info
(Both Divisions of Celestial Publishing -- Rose Haller, Chief Creative Officer & Editor-in-Chief). All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Rose Haller is a Professional Wedding Planner, specializing in Weddings and Wedding Reception Planning for 30 years. She is Editor-in-Chief and Chief Creative Officer of Celestial Publishing (WeddingLDS.com., WeddingLDS.info and WeddingCakeToppings.info)

Rose was a Musical Theater Major as an undergrad. Rose is an Expert on LDS Wedding Gowns. Rose has both a Degree & a Professional Designation in Clothing Manufacturing and Fashion Merchandising. She and her husband, Dr. Howard Edward Haller, live in the Pacific Northwest, they have six grown children and a growing number of grandchildren; they are both active members of the LDS Church.

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