The Tasting of the Four Elements is an example of a sharing ritual. It can be quite amusing or charmingly eloquent while its symbolism is incredibly powerful. The expressions on the bride and grooms faces are sometimes priceless and can make for fantastic wedding photos. It demonstrates a commitment to remaining together no matter what life may bring. The ritual is very easy to set up as all you need are four small containers with the following:
1. salty water
2. lemon juice
2. tonic water
3. honey, agave nectar or simple syrup
The bride and groom dip their fingers into the bowls and very gently place a small amount on the tip of the other's tongue as instructed. I highly discourage picking up the dish and taking a swig. Ew! I also recommend not using the same finger in each successive dish. By the time you get to the honey, it is not going to taste very good either.
Officiant: (Bride and Groom) have pledged themselves to a union founded on love, but with and understanding the success of their union is dependent upon the daily commitments they make to one another. We know not what the future brings, but now they face that future together, hand in hand, heart to heart. Their joys will be multiplied because they share them and sorrows diminished because they stand fast in their mutual support.
(Bride and Groom), as your future will have times of sadness and dismay, I ask you to share the taste of salt in anticipation of the comfort you will be to one another as you wipe away the tears. <salt water>
As your future will have times of disillusionment and regret, I ask you to share the taste of sour in anticipation of the guidance and support you must be to one another. <lemon juice>
As your future will have times of frustration and conflict, I ask you to share the taste of bitter in anticipation of the compassion and tenderness you must freely give to one another. <tonic water>
The sweetness of your regard for one another and your marriage endures through all of these three flavors. I ask you to share the taste of this honey to remind you your union is blessed with the sweetness of your love for one another, and this possesses a strength no sadness, regret or frustration has the power to take away. <honey >
Our prayer for you this day is the difficult times you face are few and far between and you have the strength, grace and integrity to endure as friends and lovers, companions and guides.
If you are not enamored with the idea of sticking your fingers in one another's mouth during your wedding, you can adapt the ritual to use food products instead. A salty cracker, bite-size lemon tart, wedge of grapefruit and piece of sponge cake or a chocolate covered strawberry work beautifully as well.
I have seen some claim this ritual originates in Africa and others say it hails from Eastern Europe. Regardless of where it comes from, the Tasting of the Elements is a real crowd pleaser because it is so rarely included in American weddings. Guests enjoy being treated to something unique and consequently often think the couple came up with it on their own. If you want to symbolize your sincere desire to dedicate your lives to one another, this is a great way to demonstrate it in the context of your wedding ceremony.