The Southern Wedding Tradition of Cake Pulls

Close up of a wedding cake

If you want to have a traditional southern wedding, you've simply got to have cake pulls. They'll make your cake cutting ceremony even more special.

History of the Traditional Cake Pull

Wedding cake charms date back to Victorian times. They were typically made of silver with ribbons attached and were placed inside the cake. During the reception, bridesmaids and other attendants pulled the ribbons and charms out of the cake. This little ceremony was called a "cake pull", and it is still practiced today, particularly in the South.

Today, cake pulls aren't just limited to the attendants. Children, parents of the bride and groom, and other guests can all gather around the cake. The ribbons are fanned out, and before the cake is cut, guests pull the ribbons out of the cake. Each charm tells a fortune or prediction for the future and is a quaint memento of the wedding celebration.

Adding the Charms

If you want to incorporate the southern wedding cake charms tradition into your cake, you'll need to find a baker who understands how the process is done. The charms are not baked inside the cake. Instead they are hidden either in between the cake layers or under the bottom layer, making insertion and removal fairly simple. Satin ribbons are typically used in coordinating colors or a simple white. If you plan on making the cake yourself, keep the following in mind:

  • Bake the cake layers as usual.
  • Ice the cake all over except for the edging. This will be added after the charms and ribbons are inserted.
  • Insert the charms between the cake layers or between the bottom layer and the cake tray.
  • Be sure you insert the charms all around the cake so that the ribbons fan out around the entire perimeter of the cake.
  • Add the rest of the icing around the edges of the cake.

Charm Meanings

This charming tradition is no longer relegated to the actual wedding either. The tradition has worked its way into wedding showers and bridesmaid's parties as well. The charms represent a variety of symbols and depending on the shape of the charm, their meanings include:

  • Ring: Upcoming marriage
  • Heart: New love
  • Kite: Fun and leisurely life
  • Fleur-de-Lis: Love will blossom, prosperity
  • Four Leaf Clover: Lucky in life
  • Anchor: Adventure awaits
  • Red Bean: Good luck
  • Star: Wish comes true
  • Thimble: Spinsterhood
  • Hot Air Balloon: A life of travel and adventure
  • Butterfly: Eternal beauty
  • Wreath: Contented life

Different cake charms sets may include different symbols, or brides may even choose individual charms to coordinate with the wedding theme, such as dolphins, anchors, shells, boats, and fish to use for a beach wedding.

After the Cake Pull

What happens to the cake pulls after the ceremony is over? The answer solves the question of what to give the bridesmaids as gifts! Many brides buy charm bracelets or silver bangle bracelets that the charms can be added to. Some wedding guests give the charms back to the bride, and she then adds them to a bracelet of her own, creating another wonderful memory of her special day.

Where to Buy

You can purchase wedding cake charms online, or jewelry stores, bridal boutiques, and specialty bakers in your area may carry them. The following sites specialize in wedding cake charms.

  • Wedding Cake Charms - This is a great site with lots of charm selections, including their meanings.
  • Etsy- Choose from a variety of charms with or without ribbons attached.
  • My Charmed Life - This site offers a set of six sterling silver charms along with fortunes which explain the meaning of each charm.
  • Sterling Trends - This is another great site that offers a variety of beautiful sterling silver charms for your wedding cake.

More for Your Guests to Remember

You want your wedding to be memorable for your guests, right? Adding this cake charms tradition to your festivities can be a fun, whimsical way to add even more meaning and entertainment to your wedding reception.

The Southern Wedding Tradition of Cake Pulls