Reprinted from hudsonvalleyweddings.com
The history of the wedding cake goes back as far as the Roman Empire, well before the concept of elaborately icing a cake, was invented. Through the years, the wedding cake has become the focus of a variety of customs and traditions. Some of these customs have survived through time. Some have not. The custom of breaking the cake over the bride's head, is no longer practiced. The tradition may have its roots as far back as the Roman Empire. The groom would eat part of a loaf of barley bread baked especially for the nuptials and break the rest over his bride's head. History tells us that breaking the bread symbolized the breaking of the bride's virginal state and the subsequent dominance of the groom over her. As wedding cakes evolved into the larger, more modern version, it became physically impractical to properly break the cake over the bride's head. The tradition disappeared fairly quickly in some places, but there were still reports of breaking an oatcake or other breakable cakes over the bride's head in Scotland, in the 19th century. It's reported that in Northern Scotland, friends of the bride would put a napkin over her head and then proceed to pour a basket of bread over her. It's hard to say why some traditions endure and some do not, but the obvious male chauvinistic bent of this particular tradition probably leads to its early demise.