This was my first Reform wedding. I've been to two Conservative ones and God knows how many Orthodox ones, including one tomorrow night. I was invited to a Catholic one but arrived too late to see anything, and I watched a Pagan wedding (I don't know which brand) from my tent one Pennsic. And I've seen many general Protestant-American weddings on TV. This is just to give some perspective on my own experiences.
The wedding was in New Jersey. We don't have a car, and getting one would mean paying four days rent (not to mention buying gasoline.) So we chose to take a bus instead - cab to the Port Authority, express bus to a park and ride by Willowbrook Mall, pick-up by friends of the bridal couple. It all worked well and we got to the catering hall by 11:30.
Which is when the wedding was called for. The ceremony, I mean, not the kabbalat punim, the pre-wedding reception I've gotten used to. This is custom, not law, but it does allow for later arrivals. They had a private bedeken, where the groom veils the bride, but while the bedeken is part of things, it can be done in private.
The cantor was late. We sat next to his daughter (the cantor was the father of the groom's sister's husband) and she said he always got lost. Always. So, even though he was in constant contact by cell phone, he was late. The rabbi told jokes and answered questions and gave little talks about the meaning of the ketubbah and the rings and the glass, and then they decided to just get started. Just after blueraccoon got to the chuppah, the wedding canopy, looking absolutely lovely, the cantor showed up. He had a magnificent voice.
The Hebrew text of the wedding was traditional. The order of the ceremony was traditional (you'd think that would be a given, but my in-laws recently went to a rabbi's office wedding for a cousin where they reversed the order on the betrothal (the ring part) and the wedding itself (the seven blessings.) And I just figured out why - he wanted the ring part at the end.) There were a few non-traditional elements. They exchanged rings, both saying the line "Behold, you are consecrated unto me according to the laws of Moses and Israel." In tradtional ceremonies, the ring is a concrete item demonstrating the bride's acceptance of the legal status of "kiddushin" or betrothal. Because of that, Orthodox ceremonies do not have direct ring exchanges, lest it look like she's giving the ring *back* and negating the ceremony. Those couples who want to have two rings have a number of solutions (many more right-wing men do not wear rings at all, so it doesn't come up.)
They also exchanged "I do"s. This part was very odd, since I'd never seen it at any Jewish wedding before and I didn't expect it. Is it common in Reform weddings?
After this, there was the traditional interruption, but instead of reading the ketubah, the rabbi just displayed and explained it. Honestly? I preferred this. (I've also been to weddings where the rabbi gives a speech instead.) Then the cantor sang the seven blessings, and the rabbi signaled when people should say "amen." And jonbaker, being Jonathan, sang during the parts where people are supposed to sing along. Not many others did. :) And I believe they exchanged a kiss, which is also a non-traditional addition.
Then we were invited to the "cocktail party", which was a large buffet with hot and cold foods, a crepe station, a pasta station, a Peking duck station, plus fruits and salads and cheeses, an open bar and a vodka luge. Let me describe the vodka luge. Imagine an ice sculpture shaped sort of abstractly anthropomorphically. It holds two bottles of flavored vodka, plus there are others iced nearby. There is a tube that runs through the "head" and out between the sort of "legs". The drinker holds a shot glass at the end of the tube; the bartender pours the shot through the top. It was...different. And quite fun to watch. I don't drink vodka, so I can't say how well it worked.
There was also plenty of fruit and fish (herring, lox, whitefish), so those of us who kept kosher could find enough to eat. We ended up shmoosing mostly with sethcohen and another O couple, plus the groom. (They'd showed up rather casually during the cocktail party.) Rebecca spent it being her lovely, social self, so she was everywhere.
Right now, I want to thank Rebecca and her family. They didn't just make sure the five of us (would have been six, but one person was ill) had kosher food - they also went out of their way to make sure we also had a choice of kosher wines - and excellent ones, too - plus kosher "champagne". This was just absolutely lovely of them. And the kosher food itself was delicious.
I'm assuming that the reception was similar to general receptions - a dj pretty much running things, lots of music from different eras, formal and informal dances, set pieces like the bride dancing with the groom and then her father, and groom with his mother. There was a "hora" - a circle dance with the chairs - right in the beginning, too. The most amusing part to my mind was when he played sixties music, and the dance floor immediately filled with people who were all over fifty. :)
We left right after the main course because we'd gotten a ride to the park-and-ride from the other couple, so I don't know how it finished.
We finished the day by going to Midtown Comics and then a Starbucks, and then finally to a dairy place (we only wait an hour after eating meat) for dinner.