Anyone who has seen Steel Magnolias, a 1989 film based on a play, may not be able to push from their minds the image of the “bleeding” armadillo groom’s cake, a specialty of the groom’s aunt. A conversation in the film humorously draws attention to the cake:
M’Lynn: “It’s repulsive. It’s got gray icing. I can’t even begin to think how you’d make gray icing.”
Shelby: “Worse, the cake part is red velvet cake. Blood red. People are gonna be hacking into this poor animal that looks like it’s bleeding to death.”
All joking aside, the concept of a groom’s cake may seem like a relatively new wedding tradition, but according to etiquette guru Martha Stewart, it dates back to as early as 1897. It was established as an alternative to the “feminine” wedding cake. Thus, masculine influences have resulted in cake themes ranging from the extreme to the whimsical, the Steel Magnolias red velvet armadillo cake being a prime example. And while the main wedding cake features flavor profiles chosen to appeal to a wide audience, the groom’s cake often makes a bolder statement, such as dark chocolate or liquor-infused cake batter.
Generally, though, grooms’ cakes are less serious and less sophisticated. Often a play-on-words message is scrawled into the icing in the realm of “getting hitched” or “game over.” Other times, the cake conveys the groom’s particular pastime, interest, sports team affiliation, or career. A cake may include fish and tackle imagery or a deer antler motif, for the outdoorsman, for example. One particularly elaborate Pinterest groom’s cake suggestion resembles a Yeti cooler filled with ice and beer.
Martha Stewart’s The History of the Groom’s Cake states: “… the groom’s cake is seen as an opportunity to showcase some creativity and personalization.” Regarding when it is to be served, Martha points out, “That is entirely up to the couple. Some like to share the sweet creation with the bridal party during the rehearsal dinner, while others opt to bring it out on the big night as a second slice for all to share.”
Bottomline: no hard and fast rules dictate what the groom’s cake should look like or when it is to be eaten. It provides a chance for the groom to have a bit of fun during a serious and life changing event.