Wedding cake toppings and Wedding cake ornaments (aka Wedding cake toppers) are the outgrowth of a number of old traditions from around the world. In the United States Wedding cake toppings, ornaments, and toppers showed up in the traditions of American familys even before the American Civil War (or for Southern families The War of Northern Aggression) and grew in popularity to be common in the 1890s.
Decorative Wedding Cake Toppers became more popular immediately after World War I. In the 1920s, the High Society in the US eagerly adopted the use of putting bride and groom figurines on top of wedding cakes.
Historically, there are two significant events which boosted the popularity and use of wedding cake toppers in the form of small figurines of the bride and groom atop the wedding cake.
First, the well-known and highly respected American etiquette expert, Miss Emily Post, in her 1922 Best-Selling book clearly stated that the: wedding cake is an essential of every wedding reception, and Emily Post further counseled and commented about the placement of the bride and groom figurines as a wedding cake topper, the wedding cake is almost always ordered from the caterer who delivers it shortly before the hour of the reception. It is usually in several tiers, beautifully decorated with white icing and topped by small figures of the bride and groom.
Secondary, American businesses, including the retail giant Sears, Roebuck & Company (now Sears Brands, LLC), began marketing and selling wedding cake toppers of a bride and groom figurines for the top of wedding cakes.
In an informative article in an issue of The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, June 2006 entitled, Bride and Groom Wedding Cake Toppers, Robert Reed wrote, In 1924 one U.S. wholesale catalog was offering an assortment of wax bride and groom wedding cake toppers. Selections included a hatless groom or a groom wearing a “high hat” or top hat. The bride meanwhile could come with or without a cloth veil. All of the bride and groom wax figures were about two inches tall. The catalog listing offered them as a couple, or in groups of 100 for wedding favors.
Reed added the importance of including a wedding cake topper in the 1927 mail order catalog from Sears, Roebuck and Company: The idea of wedding toppers in general and bride and groom toppers in particular had expanded enough in 1927 for the Sears and Roebuck mail order catalog to include a whole page of wedding cake ornaments. The following year Slack Manufacturing offered bride and groom figures made of celluloid. The bride wore a paper dress and the groom wore a paper suit. Both figures were about two and a half inches tall.
The usual wedding cake toppers or wedding cake toppings traditionally featured a miniature bride and groom figurine. These miniature bride and groom figurines could come in a wide range of poses. During or immediately after major Wars, the groom might be featured in a Military uniform from one of the various arms of the Military (Army & Army Air Corp, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard). Some grooms who were Policeman or Fireman might be shown as figurines in their uniform.
It has always been a long standing tradition that the bride and groom would remove and save the Wedding Cake Toppers or Wedding Cake Toppings as an important memento of the wedding ceremony and wedding reception. Tied in with the removal of the Wedding Cake Toppers or Wedding Cake Toppings is the removal, saving and freezing the top layer of the wedding cake for the bride and groom to thaw out and eat to celebrate their First Wedding Anniversary.
As time passed in the Twentieth Century the range and variety of wedding cake toppings expanded beyond solely using the bride and groom figurine wedding toppers to include a wide range of wedding cake topping or wedding cake ornaments. Some wedding couples choose instead of the wedding cake toppers using a bridge and groom, to select such wedding cake toppings as: cupids, cherubs, hearts, love birds, silver bells, flowers, fruit, or even a small framed picture of the wedding couple (maybe an engagement photo of the wedding couple).
As a side note, the terms wedding cake toppings, wedding cake toppers, wedding cake ornaments, or wedding figurines are pretty much completely interchangeable. The term Wedding Cake Toppers usually refers to bride and groom figurines that are made of paper mache, plastic, porcelain, and now polymer clay. While wedding cake toppings, usually of a bride and groom figurine, made of out of shaped and colored icing may also be referred to as icingtons.