After the Wedding Ceremony

After the wedding, bride and groom retreat to a seclusion room, rejoin their guests for a festive meal, and then celebrate with friends and family for the next seven days.

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In Jewish tradition, bride and groom do not embark upon a honeymoon immediately after the wedding; they remain for a full week (three days if it is a second marriage for both) to celebrate. These Shiv'at Y'mei Mishteh, or Seven Days of Feasting, are said to have been ordained by Moses, and are a custom that is thought to go back to patriarchal times. These feasting days serve as a focal point for communal rejoicing and for the couple to begin their married life together while in the lap of the community.

During the Seven Days of Feasting, the bride and groom do not work, nor may they be involved in business transactions of any kind. They only eat, drink, and rejoice with each other. Each day, close relatives or friends host the married couple for a festive meal, which is punctuated by singing and rejoicing. It is customary for the groom, if he is learned, to deliver a d'var Torah, a learned discourse. Again, in most cases, it is also customary for the groom to be interrupted with singing as he begins, so that he will not be shamed if he is not capable of delivering it.

At the conclusion of the meal, Sheva Berakhot are recited. A minyan, or quorum, of at least 10 adult males [or in liberal communities, 10 adults of either gender] is required for each meal, at least one of whom was not present at the wedding and at previous Sheva Berakhot for this couple.

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Dr. Michael Kaufman studied at Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Vodaath, Telshe Yeshiva, Brookyn College, and the University of Louisville. His books include The Art of Judaism, A Timeless Judaism for Our Time, and A Guide to Jewish Art. He lives with his family in Jerusalem.