Every wonder why wedding cake is a tradition? Here’s a fun lecture I did at Tufts University on The Origins of the Wedding Cake and in my own wedding dress to boot! The origins is just a small part in my full lecture of “The Sexy and Sexist Layers of the Wedding Cake” for the Women’s Center 2nd Annual Symposium.
Super excited to be interviewed on the #1 wedding podcast, Save The Date. It was really fun sitting down with the host, Aleisha McCormack to talk about some of the most sexist wedding traditions out there and what “bridechillas”‘ and “groomchillas” (bride/grooms who are chill) can do to make them more feminist and respectful for all. So please check out and listen to Episode 169, which by the way, is a totally appropriate number considering how much we discussed the role of sex in wedding traditions! To all the feminist brides (and grooms) out there, I hope it’s an eye opening listen and as fun for you as it was for me in recording it!
Sweet justice has been served! The Colorado State Supreme Court ruled that a public-facing business cannot refuse service to customers on religious grounds under the state’s anti-discrimination law,. The law stops businesses from discriminating against people on the basis of race, sex, national origin, or sexual orientation.
My wedding cake topper was also my “something old.” It was over 30 years old and last saw a cake at my parents’ wedding in the 70s. I spent at least an hour trying to bleach it white. Before deciding to use it, I debated between going simple with just flowers since I had been both tickled and horrified at modern cake toppers. Seriously, have you seen them lately?
Ever wonder why some people like to argue that marriage is only “between a man and a woman?” Would you believe that the statement is not necessarily about who has a right to marry, but more of a pretext to what marriage is supposed to be for? We’re talking baby making.
Guest Contributor: Kate Harrison
Most brides don’t realize how wasteful the average wedding can be, but the reality is that the average wedding produces 300-500 pounds of garbage and 63 tons of CO2. When added up, the annual impact of American weddings is like 8.3 million cars driving on the road for a year! The good news is that it has never been easier to go green, and with so many great options, you no longer need to sacrifice your style, theme or budget to it. The trick is keeping an eye on the environment as you move through the planning process and making simple substitutions when possible.
There are many non-Western cultures and faiths that practice magnanimous food sharing. In the Jewish faither, there’s the ‘Yihud’ that provides a secluded moment for the newlyweds to feed each other their first meal as a married couple. And during the ‘kiddushin’ (betrothal ceremony) the bride and groom share wine during a blessing.
Victorian’s started the whole big cake, compensating-for-something-else competition. The larger the cake: the greater the wealth and affluence supposedly. Queen Victoria’s cake measured three yards in circumference, Elvis’s had six tiers, and in 1971, Richard Nixon’s daughter had a 350 lb., 7 ft. high White House wedding cake. The world’s largest wedding cake, according to The Guinness World Record Association, weighed 15,032lb on February 8, 2004 and was made by Mohegan Sun Casino, CT chefs. But that doesn’t trump the life-sized cake that a TLC Texas Bridezilla had made in the image herself (just of herself). Does that count as cannibalism?
Some find the entire pomp and circumstance of the cake cutting ceremony as sugarcoated narcissism. They assume no guest wants to witness a gross display of PDA. Is it possible they are right? It is, after all, becoming less and less popular – perhaps for that reason. The tradition is indeed a form of entertainment, which in some circles is seen as part of the indulgent, luxury-wedding syndrome that is both ostentatious and vain.
The act of feeding a spouse wedding cake symbolizes your promise to nurture and care for them. When it’s done equally, it’s a selfless act making it also a very parental act. Freud would have a field day with this because it is also a sexual act, you’re entering someone’s intimate space and putting sexual food in open orifices. If that idea makes the ritual seem weird, it’s because it is; but don’t worry, if you don’t like being the center of attention, skip the cake and its cost or take some sheet cake and feed each other privately.
Me though, I like cake and I enjoy a good cake in the face at somebody else’s expense. I loved the photos of my own parents’ wedding of my mom smushing cake in my dad’s face. When he tried to do the same, in a move of comical genius she pushed his own cake-filled hand into his own face. I desperately wanted to repeat this as a new personal tradition, but didn’t have the hutzpah. Besides cake in the face indicates to the guests it is time for dessert.
A wedding calls for many special occasions which means many special toasts. While champagne may be the typical bubbly, here’s a list of alternative libations with occasion-related names. Sadly, I’ve only had the pleasure of tasting three but would happily raise a glass to the others if I could.
A lot of brides like to tell me how unique their wedding will be. I smile and politely shake my head, but I’m secretly thinking that this is what the last bride I spoke to claimed about her own wedding. Call it a coincidence but she too was proposed to on one knee, is wearing a white dress, registered at Bed, Bath and Beyond and will also have a flower bouquet made with seasonal flowers. If you’ve been to enough weddings, it’s hard to experience something completely out of the ordinary. Weddings are sort of like all inventions post-wheel, nothing is truly original.
While the little details might be customized with the newlyweds’ monogram or their personal inside jokes and tastes, a big wedding picture shows that our wedding planning choices are not really all that unique. Like call this crazy, but I predict most weddings at some point will play Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing and/or Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, clink glasses to encourage newlywed PDA, show that one old Aunt and Uncle have some serious awkward, but awesome dance moves, and end with dessert. This homogenity is the nature of partaking in a cultural event. To participate in it means following certain rules and suggested guidelines. And guess what, many others like you are also following them and only changing a little. This means a lot of weddings, no matter how customized the color on the wedding invitations are or how high a cake, someone probably had one just as high as you and they too got their crafty, hipster invitations from Paper Source.
Culture is not the only culprit to cliché wedding practies. Consumerism plays a huge role too. Weddings are commercialized events. Culture tells us what we need to have a proper weddings and then for-profit companies provide those products on a mass-produced scale that are easily affordable and accessible. That crappy plastic tiara you got for your bachelorette party that made you Queen for a night (because that’s what you are, clearly) is the same one the bride-to-be last weekend wore to hers. Aren’t princesses supposed to be rare?
The electric slide and the funky chicken were fun wedding dances until they became overused. Now they are extinct rituals because people find them tacky and cliché. The cutting and the feeding of the wedding cake, the garter and bouquet toss are now facing extinction as well. Does a ritual have to be bad to be considered cliché? Maybe clichés are subjective or a taste of our time, because people still propose at sunset, on the beach, in air balloons or hide rings in dessert. It seems contradictory for people to want to participate in shared culture but then go to lengths to make it unique.
When it comes to planning, I get the sense that fiancés like to think that personalized means unique, personalization makes a wedding unique, and a unique wedding is considered more emotionally memorable. Unless you’re breaking from the macro traditions and rituals, little customized details does not make a distinct wedding. At some point we all get ideas from the same sources: friends, family, other weddings, media, TheKnot, magazines and other how-to’s. Our riffing on these handed-down ideas might provide some ownership to, say, your centerpieces, but I’m worried we’re confusing personal meaningfulness with a one-of-a-kind wedding celebration. If wedding rituals and customs are really nothing more than one big cliché and our specializing of the event not as pungent in setting itself apart from other weddings, can we still get meaning from participating in a cliché?
Click here to check out cliché wedding photography. (BTW, I love number three. The guy seems more like a photo-bomber than groom.)
The ritual is a Freudian performance both caring and nurturing but sexual and intimate. What happens when you take the ritual out of context, put it in an informal settings and practice it with strangers? To better understand the art performance, watch Part 4: The Cutting of the Cake from the lecture.
An art performance of the ‘cutting of the cake’ wedding ritual following the Tufts University Women’s Center 2011 Symposium lecture, “The Sexy and Sexist Layers of the Wedding Cake,” by Katrina Majkut founder of TheFeministBride.com.
Katrina Majkut, founder of TheFeministBride.com, speaking on “The Sexy and Sexist Layers of the Wedding Cake”