The 1950s were a time for romance. Following the understated weddings during 1940s wartime, the '50s saw the return of lavish parties. Brides often married in somber suits and celebrated with a quiet meal and a few friends just years before. Now they wanted lovely gowns and large wedding cakes. Many celebrities who married in the 1950s had exquisite cakes that inspired brides to this day.
Big Is Beautiful
Wedding cakes with several tiers on platforms were all the rage in the 1950s. Cakes were stacked and covered with massive amounts of frosting and decorations. One trendy style was a cake made of tiers on platforms and separated by pillars. Princess Elizabeth of England married in 1951 and had a three-tiered cake with pillared separators. Many brides wanted ultra-tall cakes with as many tiers as possible. When movie star Grace Kelly became the princess of Monaco, she celebrated with an enormous, six-tiered cake.
A Modest Affair
Not everyone who married in the 1950s wanted a six-foot-tall wedding cake. The average cake was usually three or four tiers set directly on top of each other. Cake tiers were most often either round or square, and the number of tiers used depended simply on the number of guests attending the wedding. These cakes were smaller, more subtle and far more suited to an afternoon luncheon reception, which many couples had in the '50s. Even some of the most glamorous weddings of the day had stacked cakes, like John and Jacqueline Kennedy and Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
Cake flavors, for the most part, stayed rather traditional in the '50s. Common flavors for the cake itself were vanilla and golden. Fruitcakes were also used, especially in Europe. This was party due to a tradition where the fruitcake was often made by the bride herself and would serve as the wedding cake. Another reason was that many ingredients were rationed during World War II, and fruitcakes were the only cakes that could be made fairly easily with what was available. Buttercream frosting was the common frosting used on wedding cakes of the day.
Toppers and Decorations
Not only was buttercream used to frost the cake, it was also used to pipe along each tier to give it fancy, finishing touches. This resulted in a tone on tone decorations. Materials such as ceramic and silver were used to make decorations such as baby shoes, bells or doves. Cake toppers in the 1950s were often elaborate and added height to a cake. A typical topper had the traditional bride and groom figurine, topped by a bent wire arch covered in flowers, bells, ribbons or other decorations.
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