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Guest List: Who and How Many Should Be Invited?
An Orthodox Perspective by Rivka C. Berman

How many should be invited to a wedding celebration?

Wedding guests range in number from an intimate gathering of twenty to an intimate gathering of every single person the couple ever greeted with a “hello.”  In any event, at least ten adults males must be present during the ceremony, to form the minyan, the quorum.  A minyan of adult males, thirteen years and up, must be present for the sheva berachot, the seven marital blessings. At Ruth and Boaz’s wedding ten elders of the city were called upon to bless their marriage. Publicizing the marriage, thus legitimizing it before the eyes of the community, is part of the goal of having a minyan at the wedding.

God’s presence, in the form of the Shechinah, is felt among a group of ten who come together for a Torah purpose (Mishna Avot 3:6). A moment as holy as a wedding deserves to be enveloped in Shechina. In times of urgency, a wedding may be held without a minyan present but that case the sheva berachot are not recited.

A beautiful custom in Jewish history, a custom still practiced in some circles in Israel and chassidic communities around the world, was to prepare a table for "unexpected guests."  A table flowing with food and drink is readied for the poor and hungry who often relied on these gestures for their one hot meal of the week. 


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