Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Weddings: Coffee Ceremony

A new twist on an ancient tradition: Coffee Ceremony

As a professional wedding photographer since the age of 19 I've been to so many weddings I've lost count. However, the ceremony continues to be an intrigue for me each time. The many elements each individual brings to the joining of the couple and the elements each family brings to the union of the separate families is always fascinating.

Many couples choose traditional symbolic rituals such as carrying flowers down the aisle, candle lighting, exchanging of rings, and wearing veils.

Others are creating their own new traditions by writing their own vows, inviting readings of poems by close friends and family members, songs and original music played just for the occasion. Lately it is becoming very fashionable to infuse your own personal elements and touches to your wedding day, even altering the rituals for the ceremony. With the easy access to the information super highway, incorporating ideas and rituals from other cultures has become easy to research. Instead of simply implanting a cultural tradition that is completely foreign to the bride and groom, they are at times choosing familiar elements that have ceremonial roles in other cultures.

One way I've seen this is with tea ceremonies being introduced to some marriage ceremonies to symbolize the sharing and care-taking aspect of a relationship. Onecouple included the tea ceremony as a display of how much they enjoy sharing meals together. This can be an elegant solution for the couple who is not religious and want a symbolic gesture they can imbue with their own interpretation, or a couple who want a ceremony that will not offend either side of their families through religious conflict or discomfort while still honoring the occasion with a touch of the sacred.

For myself and many other northwest natives coffee has been a daily personal ritual for years. I decided to attempt a translation of my own daily ritual into a new wedding ritual: The Coffee Ceremony. It sounds simple, and really it is. However, deciding to assemble the ceremonial items for a quick photograph proved a little challenging. To find a coffee maker and kettle that would be presentable, portable, and hold up to the elegance of the occasion was the trick. After looking around online I realized I should pay a visit to Canoe. They had just the perfect items! Not only did I find an elegant coffee maker, I also found a gorgeous wooden tray (just the right size), two perfectly designed glasses with heat insulating sleek design, a hand blown glass water kettle to match and a trivet that fits into the set up just right. When it all came together for my ceremonial experiment - it was just what I had hoped for. A simple and easy process with the elegance of ceremony and a touch of tradition with a twist.

Anthropology and sociology have always been topics I love. If you are interested in reading about the origin and meanings of certain wedding traditions that are still practiced in our culture and some ancient and modern traditions from other cultures, I've listed some interesting resources for you here:

Ancient Weddings

Chinese Historical & Cultural Project

I love India

Modern American Wedding Traditions

World Wedding Traditions
(great for destination weddings)

Please share anything new you learn in the comments. If anyone has other links for resources about traditions in the wedding ceremony I'd love to hear from you. Also, if you have your own new ceremony that you have created for your wedding please share your innovations in the comments.


Anonymous Riccis Valladares said...


How about adding another twist and creating the "espresso" version for those of us that like our coffee a little bit stronger?

Nice work! If you ever find yourself in Florida, please feel free to contact me.


Monday, August 14, 2006  
Blogger Serena Davidson Photography said...

I love espresso too - the challenge was in finding a coffee process that a bride and groom can do together during their wedding ceremony. I just haven't figured out a set up that was portable and fast enough. Let me know if you can think of how to do it. Thanks for the compliments Riccis. I love hearing positive feedback!

Monday, August 14, 2006  
Anonymous Kathy said...

I think those blooming display teas (the ones that bloom in a glass of hot water) are great. They look really great in a wine-glass or glass bowl as a centerpiece, and they make great jasmine tea too! has some, and has even more. I'm sure there are other sources, if you google it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006  
Blogger Serena Davidson Photography said...

Yes. Those are lovely. What a nice idea. I have some at home. I found them in Portland at a tea shop called 'The Tea Zone'. It is great to watch when the hand folded tea leaves blossom in a glass of hot water and a rose bud emerges from the center of the leaves. The ones I have are called 'Rose Sun' and 'Red Peony Rosettes'. I enjoy giving them as gifts because they are so simple yet unexpected and unusual. They have the nice balance of being thoughtful but not too personal. That makes me wonder if there is any type of coffee equivelant. Do you know?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006  
Blogger Bill Nixon said...

Serena -

Any way to do a carmel machiato version? Just kidding. I was searching for something on the web and came across your entry. I film a bunch of weddings, but had never seen a coffee ceremony before, so I had to read it.

Bill Nixon

Charleston, South Carolina Photographer

Wednesday, August 16, 2006  

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