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Number of Sheva Brachot for Second Wedding

I am God willing to be married in a few months. My fiancé and I are very looking forward to building a proper Jewish home together. Unfortunately, neither of us was religious in our younger years and we have both had past relationships. We’d like to know how many days of Sheva Brachot we should be celebrating. (I know that fewer are celebrated for a second marriage than a first.) Thank you in advance.

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Mazal tov first of all on your upcoming marriage! May you and your future wife fulfill your dreams of building a true Jewish home!

In terms of Sheva Brachot, if you and your wife have had relationships in the past but were never in marriages (even marriages without a religious ceremony, or even just living together long-term as husband and wife) then the custom is to celebrate the full seven days of Sheva Brachot. Some permit doing so even if the spouses were married before, so long as there was never a valid religious ceremony, but the more common custom is not to do so.

Note that if one spouse was never in a relationship before at all, then there are always seven days of Sheva Brachot, even if the other spouse was married before. If however, one spouse was married (even without a proper ceremony) and the other had premarital relations, then there are only three days of Sheva Brachot, as explained below.

For second marriages when three days of Sheva Brachot are celebrated, the full seven blessings are recited only at the wedding itself. For the next three days, the Sheva Brachot are not recited at the end of the meal, but the special blessing “she’hasimcha bi’me’ono” is said at the start of Birkat HaMazon. Apart from this, the bride and groom spend the entire three days together, as with a first marriage, and may not go to work.

Finally, in general there is no actual obligation to celebrate Sheva Brachot every day for three or for seven days. It is only that if a meal is held in the couple’s honor, special blessings are recited. Likewise, even after three days for a second marriage, if the couple’s friends would like to, they could serve a festive meal in their honor – just without any special blessings.

Mazal tov again!

(Sources: Shulchan Aruch E.H. 62:6, 64:2; Chelkat Mechokek 54:4; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 149:12; Chatam Sofer E.H. 123; Teshuvot V'Hanhagot I 755.)

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