I recently got myself hitched, as you may know, and in a number of ways our wedding was… unorthodox. One of these ways was our cake. We didn’t have a tiered wedding cake as per Western tradition. I didn’t feel attached to having a cake at all—I like to get my chocolate doses from more concentrated sources—but my shiny new husband loves crumb cake, so his dedicated mother baked ten of them. Our wedding guests chowed down on huge slices of it (with berries and cream) as they played board games and listened to a cello choir.
The visual component of our wedding cake, though, was an architectural masterpiece made from gingerbread, which we called The Gingerbread Fortress of Well-Being. We are Baha’is, as you also may know, and there’s a quotation from the Baha’i Writings that describes marriage as “a fortress for well-being” (more on that here); how encouraging is that! Robin and I wanted to share the analogy with our wedding guests somehow, and what better way to internalize a concept than by literally consuming it?
So now, documented for you here, is the construction adventure of our gingerbread fortress.
The Construction Process
The whole project took about six people and four hours (not including the time it took for the icing to harden—and not including the people and ingenuity it took to maneuver the thing into a car and bring it to the wedding location). We began by inventorying the pieces and coming up with a basic design: a hexagon-shaped building with a dome on top.
I originally wanted to bake a huge batch of vegan gingerbread and cement icing, but time didn’t allow it. Luckily, the stores were still carrying marked-down Christmas supplies, so I bought three gingerbread house kits (for CHE
AP!). We used most of the included pieces (about 30, including structural pieces as well as decorative pieces, like trees), and we cut a few of them to suit our design. We also baked a few custom pieces (notably the large, flat roof) with a gingerbread dough mix. I felt a bit like a cheater using the kits and the mix, but the creativity it took to design and decorate the fortress made up for that in the end.
The Gingerbread Fortress was my brainchild, but the chief architect was my new sister-in-law, Heather. Our building team included Robin (my now-husband), my sisters Lydia and Veronica, and my BFF Samuel.
Even my mother helped; we covered a painting of hers in aluminum foil to act as the base. Don’t worry; we didn’t ruin the painting, and it was still just a draft—we just needed the tough masonite!
Structural integrity was important because we wanted to make this thing BIG, and if it was going to be big it would have to hold itself up well. We used a multitude of gingerbread buttresses, inside and out, as well as two cardboard paper-towel rolls (one to hold up our custom-baked roof and another to hold up the drawbridge). Also we used a lot of cement icing.
The Decoration Process
As you can see, building and decorating happened simultaneously.
Dinosaurs manned the fortress and were heavily featured. Our formal wedding photos were taken in a natural history museum, so dinosaurs became a bit of a theme (we originally wanted to hold our ceremony there, but that’s another story…).
Aren’t you totally impressed by my dinosaur knowledge?
There were also gummy dinosaurs decorating the walls:
Also note the not-so-secret ingredient: creativity!
You thought I was going to say love, didn’t you.
Cake Toppers were not a priority in the overall wedding cake plan, but everything miraculously came together in the end. I found giant chocolate letters at the drug store one day (amazing, right?), and I made two gingerbread men versions of myself and Robin, one for each side of the fortress. My first name, last name, and gingerbread likeness are all in purple (traditionally my favorite colour), and Robin’s are in green (his fave). Special features of these gingerbread people include a mustache and beard carved from gumdrops and a specially mixed brown icing for hair colour.
Samuel may look like a slacker in the photos (he’s the guy talking on the phone), but he is responsible for the final touch of genius: the fact that our last names (Filson and Wilson) begin with the same letters as “Fortress of Well-Being”. Thus we were able to use the chocolate “F” and “W” in an awesome pseudo-acrostic title!
The real final touch, though, was our awesome flag. We had a rubber stamp made and used it on favor bags, place cards, guest book, etc. Note our rhyming names, our wedding’s slogan (a different take on the slogan we used in our announcement poster), and the inclusion of both the Gregorian and Baha’i date.
Appreciation and Consumption
At our wedding reception, the Gingerbread Fortress of Well-Being was lovingly attacked by our friend, Inflatable T-Rex (who, despite his claws, used a knife), and then enjoyed by our guests as they danced the night away. Here is our final moment with it: