Even if you don't marry a Jew, you should totally Jew up your wedding, in my opinion. Jews, as you know, are pretty awesome in a lot of ways; their weddings are tops.
1) You and your partner will both be escorted down the aisle by BOTH of your parents! I know! This is two-fold goodness. First, and most obviously, the bride as chattel thing goes by the way-side. From your father's house to your husband's? Please. 1a) It wasn't my FATHER'S house, it was my PARENTS'. You mother carries you for 9 months, nurses you and probably does the lion's share of the childraising. So as much as I love my dad, it seemed pretty unfair to me that he was the one to "give me away." (Terrible expression, by the way. Points up a lot of what's wrong with it.)
The second part of the goodness is that it made it feel, for me, like it was a day for both of us, not just me (the bride). Did you know that most women report their level of happiness decreasing after marriage, and most men report their level of happiness increasing after marriage? If I were a dude getting married, I would be celebrating my newfound increased happiness. I'd want the day to be about me too.
2) The chuppah: the little house Jews wed under is like the home you're building together. What I like more about it is that it's traditional to have it open on all sides, to show that you will open your home to others. I like that. I also thought it had this overtone that no matter how basic the house you live in, that with two of you, it will always be home. Nice thought.
3) The Old Testament readings are way better than the New Testament readings. The new testament's all "love is patient, love is kind, etc. etc". The old testament is much hotter. Song of Songs? Not exactly the patient lover. "As an apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. Under its "shadow" I delighted to sit, and its "fruit" was sweet to my taste."
4) The ketubah, or wedding contract, is maybe my favorite part. Everyone should have a wedding contract, because then you have to talk about what your expectations are. Sadly, most Jews have forgone the idea that it should be a meaningful, detailed document. Because weddings are about showing off how much money you have (in every culture), the ketubah similarly has become all about getting something expensive, and basically generic. ketubah vendors have pre-selected text, and they fill in your particular details, like your name. that's how generic they can be.
Also, sadly, most ketubahs are ugly. But it's a fine tradition that should be adopted and (in my opinion) improved. my husband found an israeli caligrapher and artist who sold nicer-than-usual-but-kind-of-plain ketubahs
, but he also made really lovely regular art. so we chose one of his regular works
and had him modify it to suit our needs.
5) smashing the glass: apparently this is supposed to mean either a) that you and your partner will stay together until the glass becomes whole again or b) that in the midst of your joy you should not forget the sadness of having lost the second temple. however, there's something about this that feels like it probably started out as a sexual metaphor. Just saying. either way, it also def. has an overtone of "let's get this party started!" much more so than a "church" kiss and a walk down the aisle.
6) the chair dance: my (large, burly, lutheran, macho) cousins saw the chair thing as an opportunity to work out some of their feelings toward me. I have never been so scared in my life. it was fun.