We take tradition very seriously here in the South--almost as seriously as we take college football. And when you add wedding traditions on top of Southern traditions, well, you've got a situation that can be mighty confusing to the uninitiated. We're here to help. Let's start with the cake pull!

Cake Pull Charms; Photo: Jen Huang

Though their popularity has spread throughout and beyond the South, cake pulls are most often associated with New Orleans, where they're as traditional and beloved as red beans and rice on Monday nights. The cake pull gets its name from an old Victorian tradition of "ribbon pulling." Back then, charms of luck and good fortune were set into the wedding cake by the bride (after baking!) to predict the future of her single friends. These days, pulls are more often placed in a small cake at the bridesmaids' luncheon or wedding shower instead of the wedding cake at the reception. Bridesmaids and close female friends (not only singles!) are given the opportunity to pull a charm from the cake just before it's cut.

Mini Cakes with Charms; Photo: Jen Huang

If you're having a sit-down meal, our new favorite twist on this tradition is setting a mini cake at each place, complete with its own ribbon to pull. Whether you choose one large cake or several smaller ones, the charms (and charm!) remain the same. A few of our favorites and their meanings: a hot-air balloon (adventure and travel), the fleur de lis (love and prosperity), the four-leaf clover (good luck), and a diamond ring (next to be married!).

For more from this editorial, come visit us at! And tell us: have you ever participated in a cake pull? What fortune did you pull?