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Wedding Cake Charm

A charm cake may also be served at a bridal shower.

The cutting of the wedding cake is an important part of the reception. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
The cutting of the wedding cake is an important part of the reception.

Wedding Cake Charm

The tradition of a wedding cake charm dates back to Victorian England, when a wedding cake often contained small charms hidden between the layers. The sterling silver charms were each tied to a ribbon and the bridesmaids in turn pulled a ribbon out of the cake to see what sort of future the attached charm predicted. In the United States, this custom tends to be more popular in the South than in other parts of the country. As The Knot describes it, it is a tradition during the reception in which everyone gathers around the cake to watch the bridesmaids pull their charms from the cake.

A Brief History of Charms

The earliest recorded use of charm necklaces and bracelets was in Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs. At that time charms were considered a form of protection as well as status symbols. The Greeks and Romans had similar ideas about charms serving this two-fold purpose, and that perspective was maintained at least until the time of the Renaissance, according to the Northern Virginia Folklife Archive, when a belief in science may have replaced superstition for some individuals at least.

When Queen Victoria brought charms into fashion in early 20th century England, they were considered primarily objects with sentimental value. Charms also became more widely available as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Mechanized production meant charms were less costly as well as more abundant.

During World War II, soldiers abroad were known to buy charms and send or carry them home to loved ones. In the mid-50s, about half of the women in the United States owned charm bracelets, which were used to record rites of passage, including events such as graduation, marriage or the birth of a child. In the late 1970s, charm bracelets and necklaces, often containing a single large medallion, experienced a surge in popularity. Then, an interest in vintage charms sprang up not long after Internet auction sites were established in the 1990s.

Purchasing Wedding Cake Charms

Wedding charms may be purchased online from a website such as Wedding Cake Charms.com, or from a wedding accessories store. If ordering online, it may be wise to check on the return policy prior to ordering. The charms, which may be made of sterling silver or pewter, can be purchased individually or in sets. Often the charms come with ribbons, tiny muslin bags and an explanation of each charm's meaning.

Wedding Cake Charms and Their Meanings

The charms used as wedding cake charms make a prediction about the recipient's future. Following are some common charms that may be used as wedding cake charms, along with the meaning of each:

  • Anchor or tree of life: stability
  • Baby: next to have a baby
  • Baby carriage or baby shoe: happy healthy children
  • Bicycle: a life of activity
  • Butterfly or rose: eternal beauty
  • Chili pepper: red hot romance
  • Crown: queen for a lifetime
  • Dolphin: joy and playfulness
  • Dove: peaceful life
  • Flower: a blossoming relationship
  • Four leaf clover or horseshoe: good luck
  • Garden shovel: nurturing
  • High chair: high achiever
  • High heeled shoe: a life of style and fashion
  • Hot air balloon or sailboat: life of adventurous travel
  • Kite: life of fun and leisure
  • Money bag: life of financial security
  • Musical notes or treble clef: life of harmony
  • Noahs ark: twins/a perfect mate
  • Owl: wisdom
  • Picture frame: a happy family
  • Ring: an upcoming wedding
  • Rocking chair or grandfather clock: a long life
  • Snowflake: multidimensional
  • Spanish guitar: romance in the future
  • Star: wish will be granted
  • Sunglasses: a bright future
  • Telephone: good news/special phone call
  • Thimble: an old maid
  • Teddy bear: huggable and lovable
  • Wedding ring or wedding cake: next to be married
  • Wreath: contentment


Variations on the Wedding Cake Charm Tradition

Martha Stewart Weddings explains that a charm cake may also be served at a bridesmaids luncheon, and charm cakes have been known to appear at bridal showers as well. An easy way to prepare a charm cake for either of these occasions is to bake a Bundt cake, allow it to cool and place it on a serving platter. Each charm and an accompanying short message is placed in a small glassine envelope with a ribbon attached. These packaged charms are then set in the center hole of the cake with the ribbons draping over the cake. Flowers may be placed in the center for a final decorating touch as well as a way to hide the charms. Then, when bridesmaids are ready to pull their ribbons, one or more photographers should be ready to capture the event in pictures. Guests will probably be interested to see what charm each attendant selects and may have their own opinion about how plausible each charm's prediction is.

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