Inviting Rabbi to Stay for my Wedding Reception

by Rick Briskman
(Chicago, Illinois)

Traditional Tallit Chuppah

Traditional Tallit Chuppah

Dear Rabbi:

I am having a Conservative wedding and the ceremony will not start till almost 8:00pm when the rabbi arrives (Chicago time).

After the ceremony, is it proper etiquette to ask the Rabbi (when we meet for our final meeting) and his wife if they would like to stay for dinner and the reception? It is not a kosher wedding reception, but there are some items that are vegetarian.

Groom-to-be, Rick

Dear Rick,

Mazel Tov for your upcoming Jewish wedding ceremony and celebration of your marriage.

It is customary to invite the Rabbi, your wedding officiant, and their spouse.  You most likely built up a nice connection, maybe an ongoing Rabbi – Couple relationship.  The one person you know you will not think twice to call again for other life cycle ceremonies and any other needs you might have.  Then, the question is returned back to you, why wouldn’t you invite the Rabbi along with his spouse?   If the Rabbi declines, mostly likely due to the challenges of the food, please do not take it personal. Its his comfort level with his observances and he is simply being kind by declining without putting you on the spot.

Now, lets say, your Rabbi does join you.  Lets say for couples, brides and grooms-to-be that are reading this guidance to this groom.  Most foods served at a wedding reception, there is always something natural from the ground, a tree or the sea (with scales and or fins) that is permitted to eat and of course, your Rabbi’s comfort level at a non-kosher reception.  Try to remember, that the Rabbi wants to attend, enjoy celebrating your marriage and that it is really not about the food.  Yes, we are to take care of our guests, it is the utmost kindness when we invite those to join us and celebrate this wonderful time in our lives.  However, when you have guests that have dietary limitations, no worries, it is most likely not the first time they could not eat all the foods that are being served.  Especially, today with food allergies.

If the Rabbi and their spouse happen to be strictly Kosher, you can always offer to purchase Kosher Meals by the Orthodox Union. They are delivered directly to your reception location. Please be informed that your caterer may charge you extra for these meals.  In light of that information, your caterer will be able to assist you with the ordering.

Enjoy all the planning and especially when you stand next to your bride or groom, receiving blessings from G-d, under the Chuppah.

All my best,
Rabbi Andrea Frank

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