The “Let Them Eat Cake” blog originated in 2015 and, of course, one of the first topics we covered was a beloved tradition: the cake pull. Cake pulls are not something seen in weddings around the country, or even the world. Though not unique to New Orleans, as most of our traditions are steeped in history, we take pride in the cake pull and its ties to the city. Additionally, at the end of the blog, enjoy a few pictures of local real wedding cake pulls!
Here in New Orleans, we like our traditions like we like our red beans. Each holiday, party and special occasion has tradition woven into every aspect. A wedding in New Orleans is no different, from the food to the second line.
A true New Orleans wedding tradition is that of the cake pull. Cake pulls can be traced back to the Victorian Era tradition of “ribbon pulling.” Ribbon pulling consisted of a bride placing a charm at the end of a ribbon and having the ribbons placed in her wedding cake. Each charm represented the good luck and good fortune that the bride wished on all of her friends.
According to a post by local bakery Gambino’s, cake pulls in New Orleans date back well over 75 years and are thought to have been popularized by Henry C. “Mack” McKenzie, the founder of New Orleans favorite McKenzie’s Bakery.
Having seen this tradition throughout my life and participating in it for few for family members – I am three for three in pulling the ring – it’s easy to agree that it’s an endearing way of including those close to you, but who perhaps didn’t fit into your bridal party.
During the Victorian Era, there were four main charms presented during the ribbon pulling. Just as any tradition grows, these charms and symbols have also grown to include myriad options.
Here are a few charms used today and what they represent.
Rattle – the next to have a baby
Hot Air Balloon – life of adventure and travel
Butterfly – eternal beauty
Four Leaf Clover – good luck
Heart – new love
Fleur de Lis – love and prosperity
Wishbone – success
Ring – the next to wed
Local jewelry designer Mignon Faget has crafted her own set of cake pulls for the true Southern lady. You can find the following in her set:
Bean – luck
Ring – next to wed
Heart – true love
Column – stability
Crescent Moon – opportunity
Fleur de Lis – prosperity
Shell – eternal beauty
Pepper – red-hot romance
Wishbone – wish come true
You can also find cake pulls at Adler’s Jewelry and online sites including Amazon.com and Etsy.com.
No matter where your cake pulls originate from, this tradition is a great way to incorporate New Orleans into your wedding.
*Originally published March 23, 2015