Food is one of the single most important aspects of any Chinese wedding, whether the couple chooses to go the traditional route or have a very modern wedding. Because food is such an important part of Chinese culture and the Chinese have a very long and respected cooking tradition, it is natural that food would play such a big role in the Chinese wedding.
One element of the wedding food tradition is the wedding cake. There are several types of cakes that are served at Chinese weddings. Some are more traditional than others, but it is not unusual to see all types served at a Chinese wedding nowadays.
Traditional Chinese Wedding Cakes
The traditional type of Chinese wedding cakes are small, round cakes that are known as either “Double Happiness cakes” or “Dragon and Phoenix cakes”. These names come from the imprint that appears on the cakes, either of the “double happiness” symbol – an important symbol for Chinese weddings – or an image of a dragon and phoenix, both of which are mythical creatures that are considered good omens.
These small round cakes are traditionally filled with bean paste or lotus paste, or are made from walnuts. Typically, these happiness cakes were included as part of the proposal gifts that were given from the groom’s family to the bride’s family when the marriage was first arranged. The bride’s family would then use a portion of the cakes as offerings to deceased ancestors, while the rest could be sent along to guests with the invitations to the wedding.
Most Chinese couples still choose to incorporate happiness cakes into their weddings, even those that choose a modern ceremony.
Modern Chinese Wedding Cakes
Some Chinese couples also incorporate a more Western-style cake into their wedding festivities also. These very elaborate cakes are usually stylized layer cakes, often decorated with ornate frosting or small statuettes of auspicious images. Many are red, as this is considered the most auspicious color for Chinese weddings, and some include traditional images like the dragon and phoenix, lotus, peony flowers or other customary symbols, rendered in modern way.
The modern Chinese cake is eaten during the wedding feast. Typically, the couple will cut the cake by hand, starting from the bottom layer and working upwards. They will feed each other a piece of cake with their arms entwined, and the rest of the cake is offered for the guests to enjoy.