The Best Charming New Orleans Wedding Traditions: Wedding Cake Pulls

a traditional white wedding cake with a married couple kissing in the background in New Orleans

A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO CAKE PULLS: SOUTHERN HISTORY, 30 POPULAR CHARMS AND THEIR MEANINGS, AND TOP THREE STORES TO PURCHASE FROM

Unsurprisingly, one of the most charming New Orleans wedding traditions is woven discreetly into the cake. Wedding cake pulls date back to Victorian-Era English weddings; aside from initially being called “Ribbon Pulls,” the original tradition mirrors the cake pulls of today. Henry C. “Mack” McKenzie created a uniquely southern tradition by adopting the practice in his New Orleans bakery. The cake pull ceremony is now treasured and loved by many southern brides because it makes time for an intimate moment with their closest friends and family before cutting the cake.

What are Cake Pulls?

Created by attaching a dainty ribbon or string to a small sterling silver charm, the cake pull is placed into the wedding cake layers by the baker. Typically pulled out by the bridal party and single guests before cutting the cake, each charm symbolizes the puller’s fortune and is a physical representation of good luck.

How the Cake Pulls are Placed

Traditionally, the charms got baked into the cake, but most southern bakeries have altered the process in a more aesthetic and food-safe way. Before piping the icing details, the pulls get neatly placed between the cake layers with the ribbons hanging out. This method beautifully hides the charms and imperfections while making them easy to find and pull.

The Cake Pull Ceremony

Before cutting the cake, the bridal party and other single guests gather around the cake. Giddy excitement surrounds the party as each selects the ribbon they want to pull. Everyone pulls to reveal their charm and its matching fortune on the count of three. Often, the meanings are attached to the ribbon, and everyone will read their fortune aloud. Alternatively, pullers can research the importance of their charm after the wedding. As a precious reminder of the celebration for years to come and to ensure safekeeping, the bride will often give necklaces or bracelets to attach to the charms.

30 of the Most Common Cake Pull Charms and their Meanings

Searching for the perfect mix of cake pulls to add southern hospitality to the wedding cake? Consider choosing from the most traditional or uniquely southern charms. A bride can find most of the charms mentioned at any of New Orleans’s favorite jewelry stores, including Mignon Faget, Mimosa, and Valois Designs. It is even common for a bride to collect various charms to create a unique collection over time. Incorporating cake pulls is a treasured way to sprinkle joy and sweet southern superstition into a wedding.

Traditional

Most cake pulls are rooted in traditions older than the City of New Orleans itself. These charms and their meanings date back to the 1600s.

Examples of traditional charms:

  • Wedding ring or bells mean marriage ahead
  • Horseshoe or four-leaf clover means good luck
  • Anchor means hope and stability
  • Telephone means good news is on the way
  • Thimble or button means an old maid or spinster
  • Heart means true love
  • Boot, airplane, or boat implies a life of travel
  • Rocking chair or mirror means long life is ahead
  • Wishbone or wishing well means wishes come true
  • Key, moon, or bird represents a new opportunity
  • Money bag or tree means wealth and stability
  • Captain’s wheel means confidence
  • Guardian angel means guidance
  • Tiger represents courageousness and ferocity
  • Lion or dog means loyalty and friendship
  • Flower means blossoming relationship
  • Seashell or butterfly represents eternal beauty
  • High chair, rattle, or stork means a baby is coming

Many southern brides are creating new traditions by adding New Orleans-themed charms into the mix.

Examples of southern themed charms:

  • Chili pepper or crawfish means exciting and spicy love
  • Oyster or fleur de lis represents prosperity and wealth
  • Mardi Gras mask means fun and surprise
  • Red bean implies good luck
  • Lamp post represents bright future
  • Streetcar or steamboat means good news
  • Water meter suggests strength and stability
  • Pelican means resilience in adversity
  • Alligator means primal energy
  • Cicada represents new opportunities
  • Pecan means abundance
  • Strawberry represents joy in unexpected places

Stay at the Maison Dupuy Hotel

One of the best ways to create a charming wedding experience in New Orleans is by staying at a hotel in the middle of it all. The Maison Dupuy Hotel is ideally situated in the heart of the French Quarter. Make a reservation at the Maison Dupuy Hotel today.

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