QUESTION: The Gemara records a dispute between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel about how we are to praise the Kalah when we dance before her ("Keitzad Merakdim Lifnei ha'Kalah"). The simple understanding of the Gemara is that the Mitzvah is to make the Kalah happy. However, the Gemara in Berachos (6b) says that anyone who benefits from the Se'udah of a Chasan but does not increase his joy is considered to have transgressed the five "Kolos" (see there). The Gemara in Berachos implies that the Mitzvah is to make the Chasan rejoice, and not the Kalah.
What is the Mitzvah -- to make the Kalah rejoice or to make the Chasan rejoice? (KOVETZ SHI'URIM #46)
(a) RAV ELCHANAN WASSERMAN, Hy'd, in Kovetz Shi'urim explains that the Mitzvah is to make the Chasan rejoice, as the Gemara in Berachos says. This is logical, he explains, because the Mitzvah to get married is part of the fulfillment of the Mitzvah of Piryah v'Rivyah, an obligation of the man and not of the woman (Yevamos 61a). That might be why Rashi (DH Keitzad) explains that the Gemara here is discussing, "Mah Omrim Lefaneha" -- "what do we say before the Kalah," implying that the objective is not to make the Kalah rejoice, but rather to say praises of her in front of her so that the Chasan will hear and will rejoice in his wife.
The DIVREI SHALOM (5:22) finds support for this explanation in the words of Rashi in Berachos (6b) where the Gemara says that the reward received for attending a wedding is "the words [that are spoken]." Rashi there explains that this refers to "the words that we say to make the Chasan rejoice." When we praise the Kalah, we cause the Chasan to rejoice. This is also how the MENORAS HA'ME'OR (3:8:1:2) understands the Gemara, and this is the implication of the TESHUVOS BE'ER SHEVA (#50).
The Divrei Shalom brings further support from Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer (ch. 16), which states that a Chasan is similar to a king: just as a king is praised by all, so, too, a Chasan is praised by all. Moreover, it says there (ch. 17) that Izevel was rewarded for her act of walking in front of every Chasan who passed by and clapping her hands and expressing praise. This clearly shows that the Mitzvah is to make the Chasan rejoice.
(b) The TUR (EH 65), however, writes that "it is a Mitzvah to make the Chasan and the Kalah rejoice." When the Tur quotes the Midrash about Izevel, he writes that she used to clap before the Chasan and the Kalah. The RADAL (Rav David Luriah) in his commentary to Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer concludes that the Tur's rendering of the text of the Midrash is more accurate, and that the praise is to be directed towards the Kalah, and the Mitzvah is to make both the Chasan and the Kalah rejoice.
According to this view, why does the Gemara in Berachos mention only making the Chasan rejoice? The reason might be as follows. The HAMIKNEH (in Kuntrus Acharon, beginning of EH 65) points out that when the Gemara in Berachos says that "one who benefits from the Se'udah of a Chasan but does not make him rejoice" is punished, it specifically means that the person benefits from the Se'udah. If the person does not benefit from the Se'udah, he is not punished for not making the Chasan rejoice. (The logic for this is that one who partakes of the Se'udah is expected to pay the Chasan back by making him rejoice. Thus, if he does not pay back by making the Chasan rejoice, it is as if he ate the Chasan's food without paying for it. Moreover, his presence there takes the place of someone else who would have caused more Simchah for the Chasan, and thus he is causing less Simchah at the wedding.) The Gemara here in Kesuvos (2a) teaches that it is the Chasan who prepares the Se'udah, and therefore the obligation to reciprocate for the Se'udah is to pay back to the Chasan. However, the Mitzvah to make them rejoice requires that one make both the Chasan and the Kalah rejoice.
When Rashi here interprets the Beraisa's question, "Keitzad Merakdim Lifnei ha'Kalah," to mean, "what do we say before the Kalah," he does not mean to exclude making her rejoice. Rather, he means that in addition to the dance that adds to her joy, what words should one say to help her rejoice.
When Rashi in Berachos writes that the words for which one receives reward are the words that one says for the Chasan to cause him to rejoice, it could be that he focuses on the Chasan only because the men coming to the wedding should not be talking with the Kalah (see Avos 1:5). Hence, it is the Chasan to whom one should speak and not the Kalah.
The reasoning of Rav Elchanan clarifies this view. According to Rav Elchanan, the main point is to cause more joy for the Chasan, and by causing joy for the Kalah one also causes joy for the Chasan. As a result of the mutual joy, they become closer to each other. However, the men, of course, must be Mesame'ach the Chasan, and the women must be Mesame'ach the Kalah.