Other Things to Consider
There are lots of factors to consider when setting a wedding date. From a religious point of view, think not just about appropriate dates but dates that might be more auspicious or fitting for your wedding. Include lots of practical considerations in your planning of a date, such as guests' accessibility and ease of transportation. The weather is also an important factor. Icy roads might make it difficult or even dangerous for guests to travel. Having an outdoor wedding in very hot weather can also be hard on you and your guests. Relatives and friends who may be abroad or unavailable are also important to consider. Realize that most factors will not be in your control, and a bright outlook and trust in the beauty and spirituality of the event will keep you from getting overly anxious.
A minyan, a quorum of ten, just like the one that is required for public prayer, must be present for the special seven blessings of sheva berachot. In Orthodox or more traditional communities, this quorum would consist of at least ten men over age thirteen. In less traditional circles this quorum could consist of ten men and or women over the age of bar or bat mitzvah, which is twelve years of age for a girl and thirteen years of age for a boy.
Another factor to consider in planning a wedding date is the sheva berachot celebrations. Traditionally the week following your wedding, the week of sheva berachot is considered a week of continued feasting and celebration with family and friends. Many Jewish weddings are followed not by the bride and groom leaving for a honeymoon admid a joyous jumble of just married placards, tin cans, and rice, but with seven days of nightly parties and sit-down meals at the homes of friends and relatives.
These meals during the first week after your wedding are known as the sheva berachot (literally, the seven blessings). They get their name from the series of seven special blessings recited at the end of the meal to honor the bride and groom. They are the same seven blessings of joy that were recited under the chuppah at the wedding ceremony, and so they will evoke some of the magical moments you experienced at your wedding.
Sometimes couples will have two or three of these parties in one city and fly midweek to another city for one or more sheva berachot meals. Any large meal held to honor and celebrate with the bride and groom during the seven days following their marriage is considered a sheva berachot party.
Many couples will have one party on each day of the week following the wedding. While it is wonderful and a bit exhausting, it is not essential. Many couples will opt for one, two, or three parties during the week with a day of respite in between.
Where you want your sheva berachot parties to be may be a factor in where you decide to have your wedding, although it is more likely that you will decide what city to have your wedding in and friends and relatives will plan sheva berachot around your schedule, travel ability, and convenience. You will read more about the sheva berachot themselves in Chapter 19.
There is a requirement that there be at least one “new face” at each sheva berachot party in order to be able to recite the sheva berachot, the seven blessings at the end of the grace after meals. This new person should be someone who has not been at any of the previous sheva berachot parties since the wedding.
Honeymoons and Wedding Planning
Your honeymoon plans may factor into your decision for a wedding location and date. If your dream is to visit India together or cruise the Caribbean, you might want to choose a winter, fall, or spring wedding. If Alaska is your thing, a summer wedding would obviously be a better choice.
Many couples prefer a short engagement period so they can start their life together sooner, but a longer one will often make preparations a little less harried. Some couples who choose simpler weddings will opt for a shorter engagement because less time is required to plan the wedding and the dangers of becoming engulfed in myriad details is less formidable.