Groom Cakes: What Are They and Should You Have One?

Groom on his wedding day

Have you ever attended a wedding and seen a smaller, whimsical cake sitting in the shadow of the traditional three-tiered variety you’ve come to expect? It was likely a groom’s cake. Never heard of it? Well, some people think you’re crazy if you have no clue what one of these is, while other people think you’re crazy if you do. Where exactly did this tradition come from and is it something you should consider having at your wedding? We’re here to help you find out.

What Are They?

First and foremost, the groom’s cake is primarily a tradition in the southern United States. If you aren’t from the South, you’ve probably never been served a groom’s cake at a wedding. I grew up in Texas where it was just plain weird if you didn’t have one. In fact, I made a beeline for that cake every time because it was usually chocolate on chocolate, giving me a nice break from boring vanilla wedding cake!

The origin of the groom’s cake tradition is debated, with some saying it originated in the South, while others stating that it goes back to Victorian England. It is said that back in the 18th century, a main wedding cake took center stage and was surrounded by a groom’s cake and a separate bride’s cake. The smaller cakes were served to the wedding party during the reception while the guests dined on the main wedding cake. Those first cakes were probably all fruitcakes because flour and baking soda weren’t on the menu until the eighteenth century. Over time the wedding cake became the traditional white cake it is today and the groom’s cake started being made with chocolate, a dark liqueur, or fruit as an optional dessert choice for contrast.

Chocolate cake

Decades ago this cake was actually the wedding favor! Guests were sent home with a slice of cake in a box, which single women were to sleep with underneath their pillow. They were supposed to dream of their future husband so this cake became known as the groom’s cake. The only problem is some people didn’t like spending lots of money on an extra cake to box up for guests. Slowly the tradition changed and these days most groom’s cakes are served at the reception as an addition to the wedding cake.

Should You Have One?

Groom’s cakes are no longer made to be stuck in a box. In the modern world, it’s become all about letting your personality shine. Many grooms personalize their cake with hobbies, school logos, or their favorite things; a farmer may choose a cake made to look like a tractor, a football fan might want one decorated like a football helmet for his team, and a musician may want one shaped like a guitar. Where the main wedding cake is often more traditionally beautiful, the groom’s cake is often silly and loud. These often show the bright, fun side of the couple and give the groom a chance to shine where he may sometimes feel overshadowed.

Wedding cake with fireworks

While chocolate is the predominant flavor for this cake, many couples choose the groom’s favorite flavor or just another variety that gives a good alternative to the main cake. However, a groom cake doesn’t even have to be a cake! Some couples opt for tiers of Oreo cookies, gourmet doughnuts, or banana pudding. If you’re going to have a groom’s cake, don’t be afraid to go all out with whatever you want.

Some couples choose to serve the groom’s cake at the rehearsal dinner instead of the wedding. With many straying away from traditional white cakes, you may find no reason to have a second cake. It may also just be too much with all your other food plans as well. Since the rehearsal dinner is traditionally put together by the groom’s family, it can be a great way to let the groom take center stage for the night, as many people focus largely on the bride during the wedding.

Another special thing brides can do with groom’s cake is surprise him with it! Get together with your spouse-to-be’s mother and/or sisters and come up with amazing design he will love. It’s a bride’s way of telling the groom thank you for standing with her during the chaos of wedding planning.

baking a cake

It’s totally up to each couple whether or not to have a groom’s cake. Odds are your single guests won’t stash cake in their bag to place it under their pillow, but they might appreciate the sentiment or the extra dessert! Of course, if someone wants to take it home and smush cake under their pillow, more power to them. Just remember that it’s less about competing for attention on your special day and more about making sure both of you feel appreciated and celebrated.

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