So over Shabbat I read Volume 2 of The Modest Way. It is entitled Woman & The Mitzvot and is written by Rabbi Getsel Ellinson. Dana leant it to me. The best part about it is that it actually has the sources (so you see where everything comes from.) That's great!
Some of it was fascinating, while other parts simply disturbed me. For instance, do any of you really not hug and kiss your brothers and sisters? I can't imagine coming home to Chicago and not being able to hug Taran and Urchin.
One of the parts I found most interesting had to do with separate seating at a wedding (or as he titles it, 'Controversy Over Separate Seating at Seudat Mitzva.') Here are the sources (with the understanding that there are footnotes I'm not typing up, so you should take out the book if you want to learn more.) This covers pages 21-24.
Sefer Hassidim 393:
Whoever recites she-ha-Simhah be-Meono must discern whether those present fulfilled "Rejoice with trembling" (Psalms 2:11). If either the bride or groom is disreputable, if such vulgarity reigns that the bride and groom speak obscene language, or if the women invite lewd thought by sitting among the men, the blessing cannot be recited.
Any mitzvah performed at the cost of a sin is best omitted. Here, if he knows that gladdening the bride and groom will necessarily be accompanied by lewdness, or that he, himself, will be unable to avoid unseemly thought or the sight of women, he should not attend.
Bayyit Haddash (Bah) on Tur Even ha-Ezer 62:
In Cracow, as the dinner held the evening following a wedding, Asher Bara is customarily recited, but not she-ha-Simhah be-Meono, and I can only venture the following explanation: These are small affairs with males and females seated in the same room, and the Sefer ha-Minhagim writes that she-ha-Simhah be-Meono is omitted wherever there is any risk of lewd thought.
Kitzur Shulhan Arukh 149:1:
Men and women must not eat in one room. If they do so, she-ha-Simhah be-Meono must be omitted, for there is no joy when the Evil Impulse holds sway.
Levush ha-Hur, Likutei Minhagim 36:
We are not particular about this now, perhaps because the presence of women among men is so common that it no longer so invites unseemly thought. Having become habituated to it, it no longer affects them.
Igrot Moshe, Orah Hayyim 41:
At optional gatherings, including weddings, I am uncertain whether the prohibition applies where there is no fear of yihud, but I tend to think not. Men and women used to consume the Pesah offering in the same home. Each offering was consumed by several families together- all groups held more than ten men (Tractate Pesahim). If a partition had divided men from women they would have constituted two groups. The Mishnah also teaches that groups cannot be formed of just women and slaves, and Rava explains, "lest it lead to sin." Hence we derive that for women to form a group with Jewish men is permissible.
So I thought that was very interesting. It seems odd to me that people are basically relying upon Sefer Hassidim (which has lots of stuff we don't do anymore/ is generally not seen as straight-up halakha l'maasa) for this. After all, people are not really following the Kitzur Shulhan Arukh (the men and women generally eat in the same room, just with a partition between- or does the partition somehow make it two rooms?) The Levush says we're not particular about this and R' Moshe says it's permissible (the point about the Pesach offering was stunning; I loved that) so hurrah for mixed weddings. *smile*