The Kabbalat Panim:
A traditional Jewish wedding begins with the kabbalat panim, literally ‘the receiving of faces’. The bride and groom, each attaining the status of royalty on the day of their wedding, receive their excited guests just as a king and queen would. These are customarily two separate events, one for the bride (Hachnasat Kallah) and one for the groom (Chosen’s Tish).
The hachnasat kallah is the celebration of the bride. She is seated on a throne-like chair (kisseh hakallah) for the occasion. It is customary that the bride’s mother, groom’s mother, and their grandmothers be seated in chairs on either side. The hachnasat kallah is typically attended by the female guests of the wedding; in their attendance they fulfill the Talmudic injunction to honor and gladden a bride on her wedding day. The guests provide any practical assistance that the bride might require and dance before her.
The hachnasat kallah is the celebration of the bride. She is seated on a throne-like chair for the occasion.
Part of the intention of hachnasat kallah is to provide for the bride’s needs. Thus, if the bride is poor, orphaned, or otherwise without support, the community comes together to ensure that she has, not only an adequate, but truly joyous wedding. Rabbinical authorities have decreed that a community is obligated to provide for a bride without means, and is even enjoined to sell items in the synagogue is that is required to raise the necessary funds.
The Chosen’s Tish: ‘Chosen’s Tish’ means ‘groom’s table’. Before the wedding the male guests gather around the groom to celebrate and drink toasts. It is also customary for the groom to attempt to recite a d’var Torah, a lecture on a relevant passage of the Torah. The guests will continually interrupt him and prevent him from continuing by shouting in song, in a good natured effort to ensure that the spirit is kept light and the groom does not feel pressured to perform in already intense circumstances.
Before the wedding the male guests gather around the groom to celebrate and drink toasts.
The ketubah is read and signed at the chosen’s tish, and then the entire company surrounds the groom in preparation for the the bedeken.