Family Heirlooms Enhance Any Ritual

A traditional Scottish cup, a quaich, with a dram of single malt whiskey.

The other day, I was lucky enough to participate in a “surprise” 20th wedding anniversary vow renewal.  Conway Fraser, a thoughtful and romantic husband from Sudbury, Canada, surprised his wife Angie by arranging a last minute holiday to New York, to celebrate their anniversary. He found me online, and we schemed to create a sweet ceremony in Central Park.

There were several moments when it seemed like the plot might be revealed, but some fancy footwork by the clever husband saved the day. One sticky situation occurred at the Pearson airport in Toronto, as the couple boarded on the plane. Among the items in Conways’s carry-on luggage was an object that was “unrecognizable” to the security agent as he X-rayed the bag. Sheepishly, the piece was removed from the bag—and it was a Quaich, a traditional ritual item from Scotland.   I can only imagine that Angie was very curious why her beloved would travel with such an unsual article. 

The Quaich is typically a family heirloom passed from generation-to-generation to be used on certain special occasions, such as a wedding ceremony. The Quaich is a short bowl shaped dish with decorative handles, often inspired by Celtic designs, on both sides. In the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom will simultaneously sip Scotch (of course) from the cup. This Quaich had been purchased in Scotland and was a wedding gift presented by one of Angie and Conway’s friends after their wedding two decades ago.   Conway wanted to use the cup in the vow renewal.

In my hastily prepared ceremony, I used the following wording as the husband and wife sipped—not Scotch, but champagne—from the heirloom:

As you drink from this Quaich
you drink from the cup of life
as husband and wife.
From this day forward
you will share life’s bitterness
with its sweetness,
its disappointment
with its happiness,
and its tribulations
with its joy.
From this moment forward
you will share everything,
doubling your joys
and dividing your sorrows.

While this ritual would have been special with any cup, it was even more significant with this family heirloom–one that I expect will be used by Angie and Conway’s children in their own weddings, someday.   Such treasures always enhance the ritual, large or small. 

So, I say to Conway, Kudos for such an excellent and thoughtful (and well-executed) wedding anniversary gift!  I understand many of Angie’s friends are encouraging their husbands to do the same.

About the Author

Life-Cycle Celebrant Sarah Ritchie respects all faiths. She has received diplomas from the Celebrant Foundation & Institute, USA, where she now serves as a faculty member. Sarah wants to lead the way in creating a ceremony that reflects you, your love, and all the things that you hold most dear in the world. She lives in New York City, but brings along a hospitality that she attributes to her home, Oklahoma. In addition to this work that she adores, she devotes herself to a variety of charities on issues relating to education, children, health, and the arts.

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