After we got engaged on the farm in Nebraska, our dear friend, and now maid of honor for our upcoming wedding, came over and presented us with this vintage tea cup, which she explained was a tradition in her family – passing along a tea cup to the bride-to-be.
She’d done her research, and shared that a dowry was the offering a bride’s father gave to the husband-to-be for his daughter’s hand in marriage back in the day. And back then, when a bride’s father didn’t approve of the future groom, he wouldn’t offer a dowry. So, the bride’s friends would come to the rescue and therefor “shower” her with the gifts so she’d have the proper dowry and thus be able to marry her man of choice. Hence, today’s bridal shower :)
Our maid of honor’s grandparents didn’t practice the dowry custom, but they did practice the traditional trousseaux. (The trousseau is the bride-to-be’s clothes and linens, along with nightgowns and sleepwear, sheets and blankets.) These represented the same concept as the dowry – the bride’s collection that she would take with her to her husband’s home. Here’s where the tea cup comes in to play: since the bride was assumed to have lived with her parents prior to marriage, she would only have these trousseau bedroom items to call her own. So the bride’s friends would give teacups upon engagement to help her start her own collection for entertaining guests. The rest, including the flatware and place settings would come from the bride’s registry, as they do now.
So, this beautiful, single tea cup sits safely at the top of one of our kitchen cabinets, waiting for the day we have the room to properly display it. This tea cup holds is even more special to us, having come directly from our maid of honor’s mother’s collection – and we’re honored to have been included in her family’s charming tradition.