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Signature Cakes Takes Us to School:  The History and Popularity of the All-White Wedding Cake

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cakes have gotten more elaborate, detailed, and colorful. But all-white cakes are classic and still preferred by many brides. Are all-white cakes boring? Can they be as expressive as cakes with color? Apparently so! If you are leaning toward an all-white cake, you are not alone. According to my interview below with Vicki of Signature Cakes, they are just as fabulous as their hued cousins.   

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Traditionally, haven't wedding cakes been all-white?

Signature Cakes: During King Henry VIII’s time there were no wedding cakes, because the cake tin/pan had not been invented. They did, however, have elaborately sculpted sugar pieces that were then painted in bright colors and trimmed in 24 karat gold which were edible. Later, heavy cakes with nuts and dried fruits became the dessert of choice for all celebrations including weddings.

The origin of the traditional tiered wedding cake is said to date back to 18th Century London. The story began with Thomas Rich, a baker’s apprentice who fell in love with his boss’s daughter. He surprised his new bride with a wedding cake that took its inspiration from the steeple of St Bride’s Church. That cake is credited for the traditional tiered wedding cake used across the world today.

It was actually Queen Victoria’s wedding cake that made the white tower wedding cake famous. Within one day of her wedding, pictures of the cake were published in newspapers all over the world. It was the beginning of the towering white wedding cake.

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How recently was color added - do you know?

Signature Cakes: From Queen Victoria’s time through the early part of the 20th Century, most all wedding cakes were white. In the 1950's, John and Jackie Kennedy, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and Princess Grace of Monaco, all had white wedding cakes. It was tradition.

Toward the end of the 1950's and into the 60's pastels began to appear in the buttercream flowers on the cakes. You might see pink or blue piped roses and light green leaves. In 1967, Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding cake had red roses on it. By the 1970's, the Wilton Cake Company made colorful wedding cakes the current trend. The more complicated and colorful the design, the more the brides wanted the cakes. Of course, fondant was not in use as it is today. These colorful cakes were “old school” all hand piped buttercream flowers, borders, and embellishments.

How many of your brides opt for all white/ivory vs color?

Signature Cakes: I’ve noticed over the last couple of years that the trend to monochromatic white/ivory with touches of gold, silver, pearl has increased. Some of the cakes are very simple buttercream iced cakes. However, many of the modern white cakes are very detailed, making layers of edible texture, lace, fabric, sashes, ribbons and finishes worthy of a runway. They are often breathtaking in their complex simplicity - there is an oxymoron for you which serves to emphasis the point.

Why is an all white cake appealing to certain brides?

Signature Cakes: Remember the old adage, “All things old are new again”? Just like we see in fashion, things come around again, but with some new twists. Very few vintage designs are exactly the same as the older versions. No matter what the taste or theme of a wedding, most brides want some form of elegance, glamor, or romance. Even a rustic wedding cake with white birchbark fondant has it’s romance. White has a way of making even the rather ordinary stunning.

Can you still have a fun, intricate cake even though it's white? How is detail or whimsy added?

Signature Cakes: A white wedding cake can certainly be very intricate. Adding textured icing fabrics, laces from art deco to rococo moldings, and custom, original piping turns a white cake into a masterpiece. However, whimsy is most often defined by color. White tends to be more sophisticated and those two elements fight each other. When I design a whimsy cake, I’m looking for bold and color as well as texture. The white cake is sophisticated, classic, elegant, original, and couture.

Do these cakes usually remain all-white or do brides add color through flowers, ribbons, etc?

Signature Cakes: If a cake is called an all-white wedding cake, the only “color” that is added would be very neutral such as ivory, pearl, perhaps a very minimal touch of metallic gold or silver. Occasionally green floral leaves are added to a white sugar bouquet, but once you begin to add colors, it is no longer a white wedding cake. Of course there is nothing wrong with adding color to personalize your cake to the colors of your wedding. That is predominately the trend today. The design, the color, and the possibilities are endless.

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All cakes creatively designed by Signature Cakes.

About the Author:

Ashley King's avatar
Ashley King

Hey - I'm Ashley! I started nashvillebrideguide.com to give Nashville brides, or folks planning a Nashville wedding, a local resource for inspiration and resources. Hope to see you at a bridal show soon! Until then, Find me on

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send Posted on December 18, 2012 | Filed under: Advice & Planning, Cakes & Desserts, Inspiration & Trends,

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