The unsettling medieval history behind why you cut the cake on your wedding day.

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Bride walks down the aisle. ‘You may now kiss the bride.’ Hours of taking wedding photos with no food or alcohol. The couple’s first dance. Cutting the wedding cake before gracefully feeding one another.

That’s just how most weddings go, right?

But have you ever stopped to wonder why the cutting of your wedding cake is such an important bridal moment? Of course you haven’t.

You were too busy eating (or watching other people eat) the most expensive cake you’ll probably ever buy.

So, we did some digging and traced the history of the wedding cake way back to the love birds of ancient Rome.

Their wedding ceremonies were finalised by breaking a cake made of wheat or barley over the bride’s head as a sign of good fortune, according to historian and author of Wedding cake: A Slice of History Carol Wilson. Romantic, eh?

Side note – here’s the songs your favourite celebrity couples chose for their first wedding dance. Post continues after video.

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The newlyweds would then eat only a few crumbs of said cake together before guests got to gobble up the remaining crumbs.

When Rome invaded Britain in A.D. 43, they brought their interesting wedding customs with them. Not content with simply smashing the wedding cake over the bride’s head though, The Telegraph reports Brits began throwing cake and bread at her too, to symbolise her fertility.

They also liked to do a fun thing where they stacked small spiced buns as high as they possibly could into a towering pile. If the bride and groom could kiss each other of the top of the tower, it indicated a happy life full of prosperity.

This tradition was deemed the height of stupidity in the 1600s by none other than a Frenchman. He suggested using sawn off broom handles to hold layers together, which was the humble beginning of tiered wedding cakes.

Then things took a turn for the (now) unsettling. As wedding expert and Bridechilla founder Aleisha McCormack unpacked on Mamamia’s wedding planning podcast Hitched, cutting the cake became a symbol of essentially, well, the breaking of the (presumably) virgin bride’s hymen. Yum.

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The old-school tradition originally involved the bride cutting the cake alone, but as cakes started becoming the multi-tiered, hectic architectural sculptures they are today, women needed the help of a strong man (ugh) to help. Hence, man and wife now cut the cake together.

Many believe wedding cakes, as well as dresses and veils, are white to symbolise the bride’s purity. However, there’s also a far more practical explanation where the cake is concerned.

Sugar was cheap as chips in mid-seventeenth century England. Sugar is also white. Hence, pure white icing became the norm.

And there you have some handy information about wedding cakes to pull out of your back pocket at your next drinks night. You’re welcome.

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