And clinking glasses together might be part of a long-held superstition that the sound scared away the devil. Even the term "toast" likely stems from "a time when spirits were often rancid, and a piece of spiced bread was put into the cup to improve the flavor," Stewart writes. Wedding trends — as well as standards of etiquette — have historically trickled down from the upper echelons, Stewart explains, "with the lower classes eager to replicate the restrained behavior of their so-called betters." In the Renaissance era, for example, "peasants or the lower classes had very raucous wedding affairs, with lots of drinking and games. It was considered a giant party where everyone and anyone was invited."

But the rituals of the cake, including joint cutting and sharing, are centuries old. hot rolled steel coil  believes that studying the feasts and fancies of weddings past offers so much more than historical detail. It provides insight into our own lives — why we celebrate as we do today.

For example, the symbolism behind cake traditions likely encompasses a complex mix of purity, fertility and superstition. "Ancient Roman wedding ceremonies were finalized by breaking a cake of wheat or barley (mustaceum) over the bride's head as a symbol of good fortune," Carol Wilson writes in the . It's likely this was also a very public display signaling the groom's new possession of his bride's virginity. Modern wedding cakes, with their snowy white and flowery exteriors, can be seen as an extension of this same concept. But the modern wedding cake's rise to "visual cornerstone and iconic marriage symbol" is just one aspect of the feast of wedding history that Stewart's book serves up.

These boisterous parties were also meant to prove that a bride's family could afford to throw an extravagant celebration. But, according to Stewart, "the wealthy elite didn't have to work to project wealth," so their wedding celebrations were much more subdued. Soon, upwardly mobile members of the middle class took notice of how the wealthy elite incorporated specific guest lists and careful itineraries into their wedding festivities. By the 1800s, the more "staid wedding repast" became the idealized wedding for everyone.

As privileged guests raised a glass to the newlywed President and Mrs. Cleveland, they were likely unaware they were partaking in a toasting practice dating back as far as the sixth century. Stewart writes that the tradition of the champagne wedding toast "stems from a time when unions between warring factions could serve to forge peace." A celebratory sip from a communal cup by the father of the bride at a reception once signified to all in attendance that the provided wine was safe to consume.