When the meal is concluded, it is time for the highlight of the event — the Sheva Brachot blessings. After the grace is completed, six of the guests are invited to take a cup of wine and recite a blessing of the Sheva Brachot.
Laws and Customs:
- Before the Birkat Hamazon (Grace after Meals), two full cups of wine are prepared; one for the individual who leads Birkat Hamazon, and the other for the Sheva Brachot blessings. The one who leads Birkat Hamazon adds some words to the customary call to order: “Let us bless our G‑d in whose abode there is joy, of whose bounty we have eaten.” All those in attendance respond in kind.
- In some communities it is customary for the one leading Birkat Hamazon to add “Devai Haser” into the introduction to Birkat HaMazon (Grace after meals). This hymn prays for the day when the Temple will be rebuilt, when we will all experience ultimate joy. Some omit this hymn during a Shabbat Sheva Brachot.
- After Birkat HaMazon is completed, six of the guests are invited to recite the first six blessings of the Sheva Brachot. The last blessing is considered the most prestigious one, and is normally reserved for a special guest. Each of the honorees recites the blessing while sitting and holding the Sheva Brachot cup.
- After the six blessings are recited, the person who led Birkat HaMazon recites the hagafen (wine) blessing and drinks from his cup. In many communities, the one who recited the last of six blessings also recites the hagafen and drinks from his cup. The wine in the two cups are then blended (a bit of wine from each cup is poured into the other), and the groom sips from one cup and the bride from the other.
- A minyan must be present in order to recite the Sheva Brachot. This is an important detail to bear in mind when creating the guest list! If there is no minyan, only the last blessing of the Sheva Brachot, the Asher Barah blessing, is recited over a cup of wine — and this, too, only if there are three adult men (a “mezuman”) present.
- Another important consideration to take into account when creating a guest list is the need for the presence of a “new face,” i.e. someone who wasn’t present by the wedding or any of the previous Sheva Brachot.