I'll leave Harley to eloquently say what I can only think. It seems strange to me that in the midst of death there is life, and so yesterday (Sunday) I went to the wedding of a good friend from college. At this point I've been to a few Jewish weddings, but the sentiment of the friends (the bride's friends at least) is "I can't believe that she's really married." It is that same type of Magical Thinking as Harley spoke about in her last post.
Anyway, it occured to me that Jewish weddings (at least traditionally observant ones) are pretty far from what a non-Jew, or secular Jew expects when they walk into the hall. Main differences:
-No speeches, drunken or otherwise at the reception
-almost everyone leaves early except immediate family and bridal party
-the pre-nup is read aloud during the ceremony
-sometimes the hug under the bridal canopy is the first time that the couple has ever touched
Helen of Indian Wedding has a pretty good rundown of the ceremony. She misses some of the symbolism, but it is a good outline. AtTheFamilyPlace has an interesting post by Tuppy where he/she says: "Beginning with a matchmaking ceremony, spiritual devotion is studied in stages before a lifelong partner is chosen. Contrary to common belief, this practice also requires that both people be physically, emotionally and spiritually attracted to each other." I am not entirely sure what is meant by that. I wonder if there was some article published that claimed that Jewish matchmaking is entirely businesslike and devoid of feeling.
At any rate Ellie of the Dilettante Handbook reposted an article about a mass Jewish wedding (20 couples) in Havana. There had been no one to officiate so while all of the couples were married according to Cuban law, they hadn't had a Jewish ceremony. 3 Argentinian rabbis performed the ceremonies. Efratti describes a secular Israeli wedding that she attended. Pretty similar to an Orthodox Jewish wedding, the only differences being in the style of the bride's dress, and how the genders mix before and after the ceremony itself. If you want to see examples of what an Orthodox wedding looks like, go to OnlySimchas, which is a sort of bulletin board for good news in the Orthodox community: engagements, weddings, births, bar mitzvahs, people making aliyah, and so on. Also, it is a good way to waste a lot of time. Ask my roommates, we spent a great portion of our senior year avoiding writing our respective thesii and instead checking out bridesmaid dresses. Clearly a good use of our time.
Whatever, don't judge.