A Hebrew term, literally meaning Seven (Sheva) Blessings (Brachot, plural of Bracha). Specifically referring to a ceremony that takes place at a Jewish Wedding.
As the final part of the Chupah, the formal Jewish marriage ceremony, these beautiful blessings are recited out loud by the Rabbi and the congregation answers Amen. Sometimes, different people recite the blessings - other Rabbis, or friends and relatives. After they have all been recited, the couple both have a small drink of wine.
I haven't included a full transliteration and translation of the blessings here for two reasons. Firstly, you can find this easily on many sites on the World Wide Web (such as http://www.ou.org/wedding/7brachot.htm ) and secondly because I'd only be cutting and pasting it. However, here's a summary of the blessings.
- The blessing over wine.
- Blessing G-D's greatness.
- Blessing G-D as the creator of man.
- Blessing G-D who created man in his image.
- Blessing for Jerusalem.
- Blessing for the happiness of the couple.
- A beautiful blessing whose text I will include. "Blessed are you, oh Lord our G-D, King of the Universe, who created joy and celebration, bridegroom and bride, rejoicing, jubilation, pleasure and delight, love and brotherhood, peace and friendship. May there soon be heard, Lord our G-D, in the cities of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem, the sound of joy and the sound of celebration, the voice of a bridegroom and the voice of a bride, the happy shouting of bridegrooms from their weddings and of young men from their feasts of song. Blessed are you oh Lord, who makes the bridegroom and the bride rejoice together."
The idea is that working through the blessings, the level of happiness talked about increases.
The blessings are then recited again after Birchat HaMazon at the dinner after the wedding (although this time the blessing over wine is recited last). Again, different people are often honoured with reciting each blessing, although the person who lead the Birchat HaMazon should say the blessing over wine.
The term "Sheva Brachot" is also used to refer to a nice custom practised by many Orthodox Jews. Any time during the first week, when the couple are having a meal, with more than 10 men present, including at least one who wasn't at the wedding, the Sheva Brachot are recited. Therefore, their family and friends will arrange a schedule of meals (usually just dinner, but could theoretically be all three meals a day!) for the whole week, at various houses, inviting people who know the couple but aren't so close (or missed the wedding for other reasons). The meal can be smart or simple (we once made a bagel brunch on a Sunday morning for some friends), and finishes with the Sheva Brachot. This is a nice way for the couple to have a gentle let-down from the wedding. They will then go on a honeymoon after the first week.