What happens after you get engaged?
Question submitted to “Ask the Rabbi” by:
“During the betrothal time, while the groom is preparing their home, are the bride and groom allowed to see one another or speak to one another?”
Rabbi Tully Bryks responds:
I’m not sure what you mean by the “betrothal time”, but if you are referring to a time period after a couple is engaged, there are several different customs. Some people will not speak or see each other at all once they are engaged, even if the engagement period lasts several months. Others will refrain from seeing each other, but will still speak. While most communities do not have a blanket rule against either of those, many will still keep contact to a minimum once they are engaged.
During the week prior to the wedding, there is a widespread custom to refrain from seeing each other (which some apply to speaking as well). And the most prevalent and universal custom is to refrain from any contact the day of the wedding itself. As a result, the practice of postponing some of the wedding pictures until after the ceremony can be a difficult balancing act between trying to adhere to this custom, while at the same time, not placing a large burden on the wedding guests, by making them wait for the bride and groom for an extended period of time.
Regardless of one’s particular custom, there are many potential benefits to limiting communication between the engagement and marriage ceremony. Here are just a handful:
- The temporary separation helps to build the suspense and excitement for the enhanced post-marriage relationship.
- Wedding preparations can sometimes become stressful. Occasionally, even trivial disagreements can lead to major family feuds. As such, it is also a good idea for the engaged couple to try to be as uninvolved as possible with many of the wedding details, such as color themes, decorations and the like.
- The dating process often causes one to neglect work, school, friends, family or all of the above. Once that match has been made, limiting interactions for a few months can help people put their lives back in order, especially as it is about to undergo an even bigger upheaval.
- The prohibition against intimacy before marriage (“Shomer Negia”) can become more challenging as passions reach new heights and the marriage date gets closer.
Different customs aside, weddings tend to be a time of pure joy that is shared by the bride and groom, together with their friends and family. To learn more about how to find that special someone, see my article on Finding your Soul Mate.
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