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Let Them Eat Wedding Cake

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A few weeks ago, we shared the backstory of six well-known wedding traditions, and some of them were pret-ty weird. Today, we’ve got some more traditional weirdness for you, this time, it revolves around that sweet, sticky stuff—cake—and is a little less scary for the girls.

The Wedding Cake & Its Related Activities

Wedding Cakes today are elaborate feats of baking and balance, costing an average of $466 in 2014. (What!? $466 for something that is just going to get cut to pieces and smashed into the newlywed’s faces, and then, possibly/probably, frozen? Yes.)

According to Mental Floss, the cake-in-the-face tradition was actually born before the tradition of a wedding cake itself, except it was done with bread. The groom would take a big ole bite of the bread, then hold the rest of whatever was left and break it over the bride’s head, letting the crumbs fall into her hair and face. Some sources say the couple would then eat a few of the crumbs together, but other sources make no mention of this unifying step. The crumbs that fell on the floor were scrambled after by the guests, who took them as a token of good luck.

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Eventually, people started using a prettier and tastier baked good—cakes—to celebrate the newly betrothed, which forced change upon the crumby bread tradition. At first, sweet wheat cakes were used, and the guests and groom simply crumbled several of them over the bride’s head, essentially showering her in food. Since cakes are a bit harder to just pick up and nom on, the ceremonious breaking of bread morphed into a more civilized slicing of cake on a table. To hang on to the idea of offering crumbs to the guests who were apparently in desperate need of luck, the bride took off her ring and pushed tiny morsels of the cake to each person as they got to the front of the line. BUT! The guests were not to eat their precious morsels. Instead, they were to put it under their pillow for good luck. It all seems kinda messy, don’t you think?

The next generation realized that the passing cake through the ring was, honestly, quite weird and also very tedious, and guests got greedy and were given whole slices of cake. But! The whole tradition couldn’t go by the wayside—no, they put those whole slices of cake under their pillow at night. Sounds like Lady Luck has a good sense of humor.

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Gastronomica.org reports that once the aforementioned crumbled wheat cakes were “used up” at French weddings, the guests took to throwing nuts and dried fruits at the couple. At the weddings of those who could afford it, sweetmeats (confectionaries) were “thrown about enthusiastically.” This tradition actually morphed into the rice-throwing tradition, which morphed into flower petal and bird seed throwing (since birds were eating the rice and dying because the rice kernel soaked up the liquid in their little bellies and expanded until, well…), which now is sometimes replaced with more photogenic sequin wands and glitter.

While throwing things in celebration went rogue, the cake tradition went its own way. When war forced cultures to mix, the British tradition of making a tall cake caught on (probably because it’s way more fun and less messy.) If the bride and groom could kiss over the tall cake, it indicated they would have a happy and lucky life together. Eventually, these towering sweet cakes brought about the beautifully expensive cakes that are custom today, and the bride and groom smash theirs on one another while the guests politely eat 70 percent of theirs.

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But, one of those pieces gets left behind and is given a special spot in the freezer of the happy couple. Why? Well, because people are cheap and presumptuous. Back in the olden days, it was generally agreed that the bride would get knocked up shortly after marriage, and if the cake from the wedding was kept in edible condition, then they could just use it for their little one’s christening.

This description of the exciting life of the wedding cake is actually quite short. A more expansive look at the history of wedding cakes involves pregnant hens, smashing plates, the misfortune of fruitcake, a five hundred-pound royal wedding cake, and royal icing. Who knows what’s next?

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The Weird Origins of 6 Wedding Ceremony Symbols

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Carrying the Bride Over the Threshold

The tradition of carrying the bride over the threshold symbolizes the entrance of a newly betrothed man and woman into their new home and their new legally married life together, but the reason behind doing those precise motions to symbolize this moment in life are less lighthearted than it may seem.

It’s not exactly new knowledge that women were considered buyable and sellable property, but you probably didn’t know about the kidnappings. Back in the day, as they say, brides were chosen by a hormonal male, and he and his tribe of merry men would hunt her down and take her—just pluck her from her surroundings—then carry back to his lair and train her to be a submissive wife. Probably wasn’t a photographer present to capture the moment…

Other, gentler versions of the history of the threshold tradition say that the bride was vulnerable to evil spirits, especially in the threshold of the house, a place where spirits liked to lurk. The new husband would lift her up and protect her from said spirits as she entered her new home.

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Matching Bridesmaids’ Dresses

Lots of evil spirits seemed to be lurking about back before we had science, and it seems they liked weddings. Bridesmaids, or friends and family of the bride, used to wear all white to match the bride, which was intended to confuse the evil spirits that wanted to hurt or kill the bride. That’s friendship right there! Nowadays, bridesmaids spend an average of $1,695 on their friends’ weddings, but back then, they risked their lives.

This tradition transformed into only the bride wearing the white dress (duh), but that trend wasn’t actually re-popularized until Queen Victoria did it in 1840. Before that, brides simply wore their best dress and the small ceremony was conducted in their homes, unless they were nobility. (Patches from the Past)

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Bride on the Left, Groom on the Right

The etiquette of placing the bride on the left and the groom on the right, it is said, is derived from the ol’ capture method of finding a wifey. Apparently, marriage had to happen quickly when the wife was a stolen good, because the husband-to-be held the bride with his left hand while slapping away the bride’s tribe with his right. (This begs the question: What happened if old boy was a lefty?) Other versions of history state that scripture is generally interpreted to place the bride on the left and the groom on the right for what seems to be no apparent reason.

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Honeymoon

The honeymoon tradition derived from yet another overt expression of ownership. The groom, after marriage, traditionally burrowed his bride away for about a month for, as one website put it, “mating purposes.” The “moon” part of the word is directly related to the bride’s menstrual cycle, and the “honey” part is related to the couple boozing it up. After getting hitched, a new couple drank honey mead, a sweet, beer-like drink that was supposed to make the woman more fertile.

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Wedding Bouquet

People stunk back then. And not just because they stole and bought girls for “breeding,” but because they plain old smell bad, especially when there are a bunch of them in a room together. Some sources say bridal bouquets did double duty on the day of the wedding, warding of both evil spirits and bad smells.

Other sources say the wedding bouquet itself was kind of stinky, being made of garlic and dill in an effort to ward off the plague. Garlic and dill were thought to prevent people from contracting the illness.

Engagement Rings

Today engagement rings are pretty much the norm for most couples getting married.  The history of the engagement ring is pretty storied in and of itself.  Before actual rings were fashioned for this purpose by civilized man, “The caveman tied cords made of braided grass around his chosen mate’s wrists, ankles, and waist, to bring her spirit under his control,” according to Reader’s Digest.

The concept of the “diamond engagement ring” came into vogue (not coincidentally) around 1948, just as DeBeers unleashed their “Diamonds are Forever” campaign.  As DeBeers stockpiled diamonds, they essentially had a stranglehold on the market, as they could dictate supply.  Bolstered by their catchy new marketing line, DeBeers began to foster the idea that diamond engagement rings should always be held on to, and never sold.

Luckily, for many people who have diamond jewelry they no longer need, the stigma of selling diamond rings and things has all but disappeared.  At Diamond Lighthouse, we specialize in getting people the absolute best value for their unwanted diamond jewelry.  The past will always be the past; it’s nice to know that the future looks quite bright.

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Best Places to Propose, Locally

Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-love-heartsWhen it comes to marriage proposals, there’s the good, the bad and the down right ugly.  Many a creative gentleman has engineered the perfect proposal, from the guy who essentially made a movie montage of him and his girlfriend’s entire past, to the chap who orchestrated a full on flash mob to help him pledge his allegiance to his betrothed.  The key ingredient in these proposals was that the guys in question knew their audience.  Some potential bride-to-be’s may love that sort of attention, others might shy away from it.  Unless you really think she’d go head over heels for it (and say “Yes”…), we recommend staying away from the “on live television,” “in front of a stadium crowd,” and “onstage at a Broadway show!“ motifs.  The most important thing is to be sincere, honest and sentimental without going over the top.  There are a variety of ideal locations to pop the question, ranging from ones that are readily accessible and affordable, to the more exotic, mystical and luxurious.  Here we’ve compiled a collection of our favorite enchanting places/concepts that won’t require a passport or a bank breaking voyage. Continue reading Best Places to Propose, Locally