A quaich is a Scottish two-handled drinking cup, often referred to as the cup of life. Drinking from the quaich is one of many wedding rituals often included in humanist wedding ceremonies.

The history behind it

Drinking from a quaich is an ancient Celtic ritual that symbolises love, peace and trust between two or more people. Since both hands were used to hold the quaich there was no free hand to reach for their sword!

How it’s done

You pour your chosen drink into the quaich. They mingle and join, representing your union and the blending of your families. Using both hands, you each offer the quaich to the other to drink from. You can sip the drink or drink the quaich dry.

You can even kiss the bottom of the quaich and place it on your head. Not strictly traditional, but good fun!

montage of quaich ceremonies produced by cinemate films

When it’s usually performed

Drinking from the quaich normally happens immediately after you have signed your marriage schedule. It’s your first drink together as a married couple and a lovely way to close your ceremony.

You are symbolising your commitment to share all that the future may bring. All the sweetness life’s cup may hold should only be sweeter because you drink it together. Whatever bitterness it may contain should be less bitter.

How to personalise it

You could use a quaich that is a family heirloom, or use a new one that you’ve had engraved.

Traditionally Scots drank whisky from the quaich but anything goes nowadays. Choose whatever is your favourite tipple – prosecco, gin, beer, or even a jagerbomb. You could even create your own cocktail. Look out for a very anxious celebrant in fear of a spillage on your wedding attire though!


Avoid anything that can stain!

You don’t have to use alcohol, of course. One couple chose to pour tea from a pot and milk from a jug into the quaich. Why? When the proposal happened the bars were closed so they celebrated with a cup of tea instead.

a quaich with a bottle of irn bru

Involving your wedding guests

You can involve family members or friends in the ceremony. Choose a person from each family to pour the drinks into the quaich, for example. There’s also the option of sharing with your guests too, if you like.


Quaichs were often handed down through generations. If you use your own quaich it can be kept as an heirloom and used for special occasions in the future.

Two male adults and three children waving and celebrating

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