The piece focuses on the Lancaster community, though it also mentions more conservative settlements.
Karen shares that typical wedding customs have been changing – and not just in the more progressive communities.
If you’ve ever wondered how the food works, how many guests attend, or what else happens at an Amish wedding, you’ll like the article.
Topics covered include:
- How food arrangements are handled (not everything is homemade nowadays)
- When a couple is typically “published” (the upcoming wedding announced in church) and how it varies across settlements
- How the traditional fall wedding dates have become more flexible as vocations have changed
- Why weddings have grown in size…and why “wedding trailers” may come in handy
- Points of emphasis in the ceremony (with preaching from the Old Testament and Book of Tobit)
- Entertainment and matchmaking after the ceremony, and examples of food-related practical jokes: “a mousetrap in the eck salad, gummy worms sprinkled over food or a bowl of prunes sewn together.”
The article also includes a chart plotting the number of weddings in Lancaster County up until 2010 (180 that year, continuing a steadily upward trend).
Based on those numbers, you can estimate that close to 2,000 weddings happen each year across Amish society.
Amish Wedding Traditions
by Ohio’s Amish Country
Amish weddings are traditionally held on Tuesdays or Thursdays in later fall after the harvest. Amish wedding tradition has had to give way to practicality. Weddings are now held year round and on other days to accommodate the number of couples getting married.
Courtship among the Amish is more secretive. A couple won’t announce their engagement until just a few weeks before their wedding. They keep it a secret (as long as they can). It is always an occasion for a new dress for the bride. They typically don’t wear white but one of the more acceptable colors of their group. They take great care in choosing the fabrics and colors of their wedding party. The wedding party, called attendants in English ceremonies are all dressed in the same dress color. The young men of the wedding party also wear matching shirts in some cases. At the least they are the same color. The servers, who assist at the meal, also have special colors that the bride picks for them to wear.
Ohio Amish Country weddings are usually a time where English friends are invited to join-not so much in the service as in the meal following. Preparation for the meal requires lots of help from the community. That’s because the meal usually serves 200-600 persons. A group of women will gather a day or two before the wedding to set up the tables in the house. This may necessitate that the wedding actually be held at a neighbor’s place.
The head table has places set for the wedding party and their attendants. This group could number up to 20. There are special napkins with the couple’s names on them, pens with the date commemorated and other favors.
Because of the size of the group, a cooking tent is often set up to accommodate the portable stoves and food preparation areas needed for such large groups.
Amish weddings are held during a service similar to the typical Amish worship service. The Bishop and ministers preside. The couple takes their vows before the church.
Afterwards the celebration continues with the meal. The Amish wedding meal is usually typical fare with fried or broasted chicken (hingleflesh), mashed potatoes (grumbatta mush) and gravy and other vegetables. The typical foods at an Amish wedding have sparked a cottage industry in making Amish wedding foods. They can be found in some of the local markets.
After the meal, in some groups, the bride and groom visit the wedding meal guests with baskets of candy to hand out as favors. This gives them an opportunity to greet all the guests personally. After the gifts are opened and the guests begin to thin, it is time for the evening meal. The crowd is usually much smaller by now. In some groups, the parent’s will give their newlyweds their first bedroom suite, handmade by the family or by another craftsman in the community.
The young couple will typically sleep in the parent’s home the first night. In some groups the couple has to arise on the first morning of their married life and wash all their clothes together. This is where the jokesters of the couple’s crowd of young people go to work. They might take the couple’s bed out into a field along with a night stand on which they would place a lantern so they could find it. They might hide the washing machine. Or they might come to serenade the couple to keep them awake. It’s all in good fun.
Many times the couple will set up housekeeping with one of the parents until they can get on their feet and either buy, rent or build a new home. The wife may continue to work part time outside the home, continuing her cleaning business or working in a local establishment. But they soon retire to begin their family.