Did you know that the traditions of wedding cake stem from the Roman tradition of breaking a loaf of barley bread over the brides head? This was to symbolise fertility & good fortune for the couple and to bring good luck to the couples guest who ate the broken pieces.
In the 16 & 17 century a brides pie was served. This was not a wedding cake as such but a savoury offering and guest were expected to eat a piece of it out of politeness. Within the pie a glass ring was placed and who ever found it would be the next to get married. This was replaced by a sweeter cake.
Then in the 17 century there was a small darker rich fruit cake for the groom to symbolise fertility & prosperity and a larger pound cake with white icing for the bride to symbolise virginity & purity. The brides cake was adorned with all sorts of emblems and scenes most of which were inedible.
Sugar became easily obtainable in the 19 century which made the brides cake more popular but only wealthy families were able to afford a pure white cake for their weddings showing their wealth and social status e.g. Queen Victoria's extravagant cake which was all decorated in white icing with figurines such as cherubs and a roman couple cake topper. From this point on white icing was renamed royal icing.
Tiered cakes were stacked with broomsticks covered with icing.
This all led to the modern day wedding cakes as we know it. The tradition of the glass rings in cakes was replaced by the throwing of the bouquet by the bride, the inedible decorations on cakes was replaced by edible one or decorations that were made safe to use and the broomstick were replaced by food safe dowels.