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A groom's cake is a golden opportunity to let the groom's tastes and personality shine through. This is one wedding detail that is all about him. Like many popular wedding customs, this practice is rooted in tradition and has a special meaning. The groom's cake tradition started in England in the late 19th century and gained popularity in the American South during that same time.
What Is a Groom's Cake?
A groom's cake is simply a wedding cake entirely influenced by the groom, representing his tastes and favorite hobbies. The groom's cake is typically served at either the rehearsal dinner or alongside the wedding cake at the reception.
Historically, the traditional wedding cake was considered too feminine for the groom, and it was thought the groom should have a cake of his own. Enter the liquor-infused fruit cake, which served as a groom's cake. Often gifted to the groom, this celebratory cake is most commonly incorporated into the rehearsal dinner or displayed alongside the wedding cake.
The History and Meaning of the Groom's Cake
"The origin of the groom's cake is from Britain and was originally offered as a second flavor option to be served to guests. It was typically a richer flavor of cake compared to the bride's cake and often includes alcohol or chocolate," says cake artist Rachael Teufel. Another old tradition was for single women to take it home and sleep with the (hopefully, still boxed) groom's cake under their pillow in order to have a dream about their own future groom.
Meet the Expert
Rachael Teufel is the owner of Intricate Icings Cake Design. She is a luxury wedding cake artist and instructor based in Denver, Colorado.
Today, the groom's cake can range from a chocolate replica of a sports arena to an edible homage to Star Wars. "I often tease that it's the one thing the groom gets to have at the wedding since his bride typically makes most, if not all, of the decisions. But truly, couples today are planning weddings that are representative of the couple, not just one or the other." Teufel says. Because the groom's cake is considered more a wedding favor than the main dessert, it's up to the couple how they want to serve it. When it comes to wedding cake etiquette, the groom's cake tends to be sliced after the wedding cake—doing so allows guests to have a choice between two flavors.
Groom Cake FAQs
Do you have to have a groom's cake?
Absolutely not. Like almost every other wedding tradition, it's entirely optional. But if you and your family are having a tug-of-war about wedding cakes (chocolate versus vanilla, carrot versus custard), the groom's cake can be a simple way to satisfy nontraditional tastes without upsetting the wedding cake cart.
Who takes the lead with the groom's cake design?
A groom's cake is often presented to the groom as a present from his new wife. "Although occasionally others have input on the cake design, such as the groom's parents or friends, and sometimes even the groom himself," Teufel says. "Every couple is unique in how they go about ordering a groom's cake. Some prefer to be super secretive while others let their grooms take the lead. It's a personal preference, but most commonly ordered by the bride."
When do you serve the groom's cake?
Traditionally, slices of the groom's cake were boxed and given to guests as favors, so there aren't any established rules for serving it at a wedding. It makes the most sense, though, if both of you cut the first slice together right after you've cut the wedding cake. Then leave it up to the caterer to slice and serve the rest.
What are some ideas for a groom's cake?
Anything and everything goes when it comes to channeling creativity in your groom's cake design. "Groom's cakes can truly take on any theme, but the most common are sports-related designs or pet themes. Everything from college or pro sports teams to outdoor activities like fishing and hiking. Some have opted to represent the groom's occupation like a set of dentures for a dentist and a Wall Street bull for a financial planner while others pay homage to their pets, as pets can't always be present on the wedding day. While most groom's cakes have a theme, some are simply based on the groom's favorite flavor like chocolate," Teufel says.
When should the groom's cake be served?
While the bride's wedding cake is often the center of attention, the groom's cake deserves time in the spotlight, too. "Most couples opt for more than one flavor of cake, so it's a great way to help divide up the servings amongst different flavor combinations. The groom's cake can be displayed alongside the bride's cake or displayed independently depending on the size and theme," Teufel says. "Couples can display the groom's cake on a separate table, on the bar, or even presented as a surprise to the groom during the reception (typically during toasts)." If you're having a smaller wedding, then you may want to consider serving the groom's cake during the rehearsal dinner to avoid having an abundance of cake on the big day.
Is the groom's cake still popular today?
To have a groom's cake or not to have a groom's cake, that is the question. "About 30 percent of my couples opt for a groom's cake in addition to a wedding cake. This percentage varies greatly on your geographical location though. Being located in Colorado, my business has lots of clients from Texas, which is a state that loves groom's cakes," Teufel says. "It is a far more popular in the South, as that is where it was first introduced by British colonists, but anyone anywhere can honor their groom's with a special cake dedicated to them."
How To Choose a Groom's Cake
Whether you unveil a delicious confection made from the groom's favorite flavor combination or a creative-shaped cake representing his biggest interest, this special treat reserved just for him is sure to be a hit. "The groom's cake should really be something special for him or the couple as a whole. Often the groom's cakes have great stories behind them. One bride requested a maple-themed groom's cake for her groom, which had some personal significance to the couple. The groom brings a maple syrup for her and her parents every time he visits Colorado," Teufel says.
"I would say there is no wrong answer when choosing a groom's cake, it's all about adding a fun moment to the wedding day through cake, and it makes for a wonderful conversation piece during the reception."