1940's wedding cake styles

Updated April 17, 2017

Weddings of the 1940s were both simple and stylish. In addition to the brides, who seemed to exude such qualities effortlessly, the traditional reception fare of cake and punch was equally elegant. Today, 1940s-themed weddings have gained mainstream momentum as part of the vintage scene. Brides interested in this idea will need to closely consider the wedding cake, an item that is considered to be the anchor of all theme decorations.

Cake Types

Two factors contributed to the usually homemade wedding cakes of the 1940s: government food rationing and very short engagement periods. Food supplies like butter, eggs and milk were often unavailable in American homes during World War II, and some brides had only a few days in which to plan, because their grooms were scheduled for deployment. Thrifty women, therefore, usually turned to recipes for butterless, milkless, eggless cakes that featured nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves for flavouring.

Chiffon cakes were also popular during the 1940s, especially after General Mills released its commercial recipe in 1948. A light texture and buttery taste characterised this dessert, thus making it ideal even for service at wedding celebrations. Chiffon cakes were usually garnished with cocoa powder, whipped cream or fresh berries to complement their airy qualities.


Wedding cakes of the 1940s featured few decorations with such frosting colours as green and white, black and white or green and black. Simple pastels were also popular, and cakes never exceeded three tiers. Embellishments included ribbons, bows, feathers and flowers. Lambeth icing, which is rows of delicate and elaborate icing, was also popular. This still-common cake decorating method required a piping bag usually filled with royal or buttercream icing: and a skilled decorator, who then created the desired look of swirls, beads and mounds around the cake.


Wedding cake toppers were prevalent in America during the 1940s. The country's involvement in WWII, however, caused the traditional bride and groom figures to transform from previous years. Groom figures of the 1940s, for example, usually wore military attire, with different uniforms for the Army, Navy or Marines. In addition to reflecting the times, cake toppers of the 1940s also regularly resembled movie stars. Many grooms wore Clark Gable moustaches, and brides were usually fair-haired.


To incorporate the 1940s into today's wedding cakes, brides can opt for specific themes reminiscent of that era. One such theme is music, as brass instruments were integral to the sounds of the 1940s. Around the edges of the wedding cake, therefore, small plastic instruments -- such as saxophones and trumpets -- can be used for decorations. Designing a wedding cake in the popular colours of black and white is another way to reflect the 1940s. Brides can then use this colour scheme in other aspects of decorating, including centrepieces and bridal party attire.

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About the Author

Jean Miller has been writing since 2008. As a freelance writer, she has developed website content, press releases and newsletters for a variety of clients. Miller holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in human resource management from Cleary University.