The quaich is often referred to as 'the loving cup' or cup of welcome or friendship and its two handles make it ideal for sharing.
It is unique to Scotland and part of the tradition of Celtic hospitality was that of welcoming guests with a drink from a quaich. Sharing a cup was also seen as a sign of trust between the people drinking from it - because it is offered and taken with both hands, the drinker could not hold a weapon at the same time and the sharing of the drink was also a guarantee that it hadn't been poisoned!
King James VI of Scotland presented a quaich to Anne of Denmark on the occasion of their marriage in 1589 and since then quaichs have often been used in wedding ceremonies. Drinking from the same cup is a lovely symbol of the love and trust between the couple. Because it is traditionally 'the cup of welcome', drinking from it can also be seen as a way of welcoming the bride and groom into each others' family too.
There are lots of ideas for incorporating a quaich into your ceremony:
- You could each hold onto the cup for the other when you drink, symbolising your togetherness. But guys, just watch you don't spill any drink down your bride's lovely dress or you'll be in BIG trouble!
- You could drink bubbly from your quaich to celebrate your marriage, though it is of course traditional to drink whisky.
- You could have two different drinks to pour into the quaich, the mixing of the two being symbolic of your union as a married couple. Whisky and water are an obvious choice, but if you don't like a dram, there's nothing to stop you from having gin and tonic or Bacardi and coke! You might also want to symbolise your respective roots by, for example, mixing water from two different sources, such as Irish and Scottish spring water:
(The wee green bottle was Tipperary water!)
- Karen and Scott recently decided to mix the Scottish tradition of the quaich with what Scott told me was the Canadian tradition of drinking vast quantities of Moose Head beer!
- You could alternatively use Scotland's real national drink - Irn Bru! Karen and Paul did this when they got married in 2008 because they wanted their children to share the drink. Their ceremony was as much about celebrating family life as it was about their marriage!
- And this one was a first (and possibly a last?) - Jagermeister!
- You could pass the quaich to your attendants (bridesmaid and Best Man), to your respective families or indeed to all of your guests, as a lovely way of sharing your love, trust and happiness with them.
- The quaich could be handed to the bride by the groom's parents and then to the groom by the bride's parents as a way of welcoming each into the others' family.
- You could have the quaich engraved with your names and the date of your marriage.
- Or you could buy one with a design of hearts:
- This lovely one below was made by Uig Pottery on Skye who do a lovely range of quaichs
- This wooden one was nice too:
- And this one was made by a family friend of the bride and groom:
- If you don't want to buy your own, I have quaichs in various sizes and I'm more than happy to bring one along for you to use on the day. This is my favourite - it's not too big or too small and is nicely decorated:
- You could use the quaich in other ways too - to pour sand into would be one idea. The grains of sand can never again be separated once they are mixed together and you could use that as a way to symbolise your unity as a couple.
- You could use the quaich as a container for water, perhaps bringing water from two different sources to represent your respective family roots. The water could then be sprinkled onto your joined hands as a way of wishing you good luck, as they traditionally do in the Far East.
- For the wedding of Calum and Jo a few years ago, we used a quaich with white heather blossom in it and mixed it with corn pollen from a Navajo Indian marriage basket. This was a lovely way to acknowledge their respective roots and to symbolise the joining together of their lives in marriage.
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