A groom's cake is simply a wedding cake entirely influenced by the groom's tastes, hobbies, and personality. It's one detail that is entirely all about him, and like many popular wedding customs, this practice is rooted in tradition and has a special meaning.
Originating in England in the late 19th century (followed by increased popularity in the American South during that same time), the groom's cake was created as a way to provide a more masculine vibe, since the traditional wedding cake was considered too feminine. Enter: The liquor-infused fruit cake, which served as the original groom's cake before it was later transformed to reflect more modern aesthetics. Interesting, right?
For those who'd like to learn more, we tapped cake expert Rachel Teufel for further insight into the groom's cake tradition, plus details on how they're now incorporated within modern weddings.
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.
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 included alcohol or chocolate," says Teufel. Another old tradition was for single women to take home a slice and sleep with the (hopefully, still boxed) groom's cake under their pillow in order to have a dream about their own future groom.
In today's modern era, 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 notes. "It is far more popular in the South, as that is where it was first introduced by British colonists, but anyone anywhere can honor their grooms with a special cake dedicated to them."
How to Choose a Groom's Cake
Whether you unveil a delicious confection that incorporates the groom's favorite flavor combination or dream up a creative-shaped cake representing his biggest interest, this special treat should be a reflection of what the groom wants. "The groom's cake should really be something special for him or the couple as a whole," Teufel advises.
The baker also adds, "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 the cake, and it makes for a wonderful conversation piece during the reception."
However, it's important to note that having a groom's cake is completely optional. Like every wedding tradition, you should do what's best for your celebration, and ignore any customs that don't align with what you and your partner are trying to achieve. "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," Teufel shares. That said, if you and your family are having a tug-of-war about wedding cake flavors (chocolate versus vanilla or carrot versus custard), the groom's cake can be a simple way to satisfy nontraditional tastes without upsetting the wedding cake cart.
How to Serve a Groom's Cake
While the bride's wedding cake is often the center of attention, the groom's cake deserves time in the spotlight, too. "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 also 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, however, you may want to consider serving the groom's cake during the rehearsal dinner to avoid having an abundance of dessert on the big day. And while it's ultimately up to the couple how they'd like to serve the groom's cake, this confection tends to be sliced after the wedding cake, as doing so allows guests to have a choice between two flavors.
Additional Tips and Advice
When it comes to planning the specific details, a groom's cake is often presented to the groom as a present from his new spouse, so typically the spouse takes the lead when designing this cake. "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."
What's more, as it relates to designing the cake, anything and everything goes when it comes to channeling creativity. "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," Teufel shares. "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."