When a couple gets married, they choose a Rabbi to officiate at the wedding and recite the Birkat Erusin, the Beracha of “Asher Kideshanu Be’misvotav Ve’sivanu Al Ha’arayot…” If the groom wants one Rabbi to serve this function, but the bride wants a different Rabbi, who has the right to decide which Rabbi officiates?
This issue is likely subject to a dispute among the Rishonim (Medieval Halachic scholars). The Rambam (Rabbi Moshe Maimonides, Spain-Egypt, 1135-1204), in Hilchot Ishut (chapter 3), classifies Birkat Ha’erusin as a Birkat Ha’misva – a Beracha recited before performing a Misva. Meaning, just as we recite before sounding the Shofar, before eating in the Succa, before lighting the Menora, and before wearing Sisit or Tefillin, a Beracha is also recited before the Misva to get married. This Misva of marriage is an obligation upon the Hatan, and thus, according to the Rambam, he is the one who should, ideally, recite the Birkat Erusin. The only reason why the Rabbi recites the Beracha is so as not to embarrass grooms who cannot recite it. Fundamentally, however, this is the groom’s blessing, and the Rabbi recites it on his behalf.
According to this view, it stands to reason that the groom enjoys the right to choose the officiating Rabbi. Since the Beracha is his Misva, which the Rabbi merely fulfills on his behalf, he should decide which Rabbi serves this function.
The Rosh (Rabbenu Asher Ben Yehiel, Germany-Spain, 1250-1327), however, disagreed. He describes Birkat Erusin as a Birkat Ha’shebah, a blessing recited to give praise to the Almighty for the joyous occasion of a wedding. According to the Rosh, the Beracha relates not to the Misva of marriage, but rather to the festive occasion of a wedding. In his view, then, there is no difference at all between the bride and groom with respect to this Beracha. The Beracha relates equally to them both, and thus neither would have more of a right to choose over the other.
There is also a third view regarding the status of Birkat Erusin, and that is the view of the Lebush (Rav Mordechai Yoffe, 1530-1612) and of the Ben Ish Hai (Rav Yosef Haim of Baghdad, 1833-1909), in Parashat Shofetim. These authorities maintained that one must recite Birkat Erusin before the act of Kiddushin (betrothal) just as one must recite a Beracha before eating. One may not derive benefit from the world without first reciting a Beracha, and thus one must recite a Beracha before enjoying the delights of marriage. It seems that this perspective focuses specifically on the enjoyment of the Hatan, in which case these authorities, too, would grant the Hatan the right to select the officiating Rabbi.
As for the final Halacha, the Shulhan Aruch, in Eben Ha’ezer (34), follows the Rambam’s approach, classifying Birkat Erusin as a Birkat Ha’misva. Accordingly, it would seem that if the bride and groom cannot agree on which Rabbi should officiate at the wedding, the groom is given the right to decide.
Needless to say, leaving aside technical Halachic considerations, a bride and groom should certainly endeavor to resolve this and all disputes in a peaceful, mutually respectful manner. It would be a grave mistake to begin marriage in a state of conflict over details concerning the wedding ceremony. As important as the officiating Rabbi is, this issue should not be allowed to cause friction between the Hatan and Kalla or between their families. A stable, happy marriage is one which is built upon mutual consideration and the willingness to forego and compromise, and thus even if, strictly speaking, the groom enjoys the right to choose the officiating Rabbi, it is not necessarily wise or appropriate for one party to insist upon a choice against the other’s wishes.
Summary: If the bride and groom cannot agree on which Rabbi should officiate at the wedding, the groom is given the right to decide, because the officiating Rabbi recites the Beracha at the ceremony specifically on the groom’s behalf. Of course, the two parties must do everything they can to resolve this and all issues in a peaceful, respectful manner.