Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi
The rabbis instituted that after the marriage ceremony, there are seven days of festive celebrations, in order to make the bride and groom happy, while expressing our gratitude to Hashem for the holy institution of marriage.
These days are called the "days of festivities". The groom is not permitted to work during this time, but rather must stay home to attend to his new wife. If however, the wife grants the husband permission, he is allowed to work.
The Shevah Berachot that are made after the marriage ceremony are not an obligation, but rather an expression of joy that the bride and groom have together with their family and friends.
"Shevah Berachot" or "Berkat Ha'Hatanim" refer to the seven blessings that can be made at any meal during the "days of festivities" that a couple experiences following their wedding ceremony, as long as the conditions below are met. It is important to remember that the recital of the Shevah Berachot is an expression of happiness, and there is no inborn obligation to recite them once every day of the days of festivities. At any time during the days of festivities, if people gather in celebration of the young couple, provided that the conditions below are met, the Shevah Berachot may be recited.
What are the requirements to allow the recital of the Shevah Berachot during the seven days of festivities?
In order to make the seven blessings during the seven days of festivities, four conditions must be met:
1. Either the man or woman has never been married before:
If either the groom or bride have never been married before, the groom has an opportunity to make an extra misvah (misvah min ha'movhar) by organizing at least one feast each day of the "days of festivities" following the wedding ceremony, in order to create the opportunity to make "Berkat Ha'Hatanim" after Birkat Ha'Mazon.
If they were both previously married, they celebrate one day of blessings (i.e. the wedding day) and three days of happiness. They can only make the Shevah Berachot on the day of their ceremony. However, they do have three days of happiness, where any minyan the groom prays with will recite Yehi Shem and the groom must stay home from work and attend to his new wife.
2. The meal is in the house of the groom:
We hold according to Maran Shulhan Aruch, that the meal must be in the house of the groom. The wedding hall, is considered to be the house of the groom, because it is rented by the couple. Therefore, the Shevah Berachot is recited after Birkat Ha'mazon.
3. The meal consists of bread
4. There are at least 10 men
5. There are at least 2 new people - "Panim Hadashot":
Panim Hadashot ("new faces") are people who were not present at the wedding or at any other meal where the Shevah Berachot were recited. On Shabbat, Panim Hadashot are not required because the Shabbat day itself counts as "Panim Hadashot."
When all these conditions are met:
One takes two cups of wine, one for the recital of "Birkat Ha'mazon" and the second for the seven blessings. After the Mezamen (the individual reciting Birkat Ha'mazon aloud) finishes Birkat Ha'mazon, he does not yet say "Boreh Peri Ha'gefen". A second person begins the blessings on the second cup of wine with "She'hakol Bara Le'chvodo." The other blessings are distributed to other people who ate bread in the meal, until six blessings are recited. Then, the initial person makes the blessing on the wine, completing the seven blessings.
Then the wine in each cup is mixed with the other, by pouring some of the first cup into the second and some of the second into the first. The person who made the blessing on the wine drinks first, and then he gives the hatan and kalah to drink. The hatan and kalah should have at least a reveet of the wine.