How Weddings Work: Yoruban Tasting Ritual

As most people know, a marriage has its ups and downs. That’s why couples vow, “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.” Another way to highlight the acceptance of all that your marriage will encounter is to perform a Yoruban Tasting Ritual during your ceremony.

The idea is this: you each taste a range of items that represent different feelings you’ll have over the years. First is sour (lemon) because you will have disappointments, but vow to work through them. Second is bitter (vinegar) because you will have jealousy and rejection, but vow to make your marriage stronger rather than have those feeling tear it apart. Third is hot/spicy (cayenne), which can represent passion or heated arguments; you vow to stay passionate only to your spouse, and/or not let arguments get too heated. Finally, forth, is sweet (honey), because if you can find the love and joy in the first three, you are blessed with the sweetness of all marriage can be.

The four substances are typically placed in small saucers on a table near the altar, and you walk over to it for this ritual like you would for a unity candle ritual. Your officiant will explain each taste so your guests know what is going on. (A friendly tip – you might want to have a glass of water or milk nearby in case the cayenne causes too much burning or coughing.)

The Tasting of the Four, based on the Yoruba religion, is an interesting alternative for another ritual like a Unity Candle or Unity Sand. You’ll definitely have your guests talking and asking about it! Ask your officiant if they are familiar with this ritual, and how you would like each “taste” worded.

– Reverend Meghan Gurley