Question: Normally one may not eat or drink after Birchat Hamazon of Shalosh Seudot until after Havdalah. What is the halacha, however, if one schedules Sheva Berachot for a Shalosh Seudot meal? Should the groom and bride drink from the wine of Sheva Berachot or not?
Answer: The general custom is that the bride and groom do in fact drink from the wine. I believe this custom is based on the ruling of Rav Avraham Butchacha.
His rationale is as follows: The last berachah of Sheva Berachot blesses God for making wine. One cannot eliminate this berachah because the very name “Sheva Berachot” requires one to make seven blessings. On the other hand, one cannot refrain from drinking the wine because to do so would mean that the last blessing was recited in vain – a berachah l’vatalah (see Eishel Avraham, Mahdura Tenina, Orach Chayyim 22:7).
Rav Butchacha therefore permits the groom and bride to drink from the wine. He also argues that drinking wine after Sheva Berachot is qualitatively different than drinking wine after a regular Shalosh Seudot meal. After a regular Shalosh Seudot meal, one does not normally drink wine. One, however, always drinks wine after a Sheva Berachot meal.
The Minchat Shabbat, my paternal grandfather, writes (in his additive notes, Shirurei HaMinchah 94:4) that Rav Butchacha expounded in his commentary on Even HaEzer (62) a theory supporting drinking wine after Sheva Berachot. He notes that many scholars contend that a person who has the custom of always drinking wine after Birchat Hamazon is permitted to drink the kos shel berachah after Shalosh Seudot as well since the wine is then deemed part of the seudah (see Magen Avraham, O.C. 299:7). Since a bride and groom conclude each meal during the first week of marriage with Sheva Berachot that include a blessing for wine, they are classified as people who normally drink wine after Birchat Hamazon and hence are permitted to drink the wine.
It is reputed that HaGoan HaRav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, only permitted the bride and groom to drink from the wine. My assumption is that this ruling is based on the logic of the Rav Butchacha. Only the bride and groom have the custom of drinking wine after the meal, not necessarily the person who led Birchat Hamazon.
It should be noted that the custom of HaRav Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, former chief rabbi of Jerusalem, was to drink some of the wine after Sheva Berachot and then give the wine to the bride and groom (Minhagei MaHaRitz 58).
Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, is the author of seven books on Jewish law. His latest, “Shabbat the Right Way: Resolving Halachic Dilemmas” (Urim Publications), is available at Judaica stores and at Amazon.com.