We are preparing for another Amish wedding in a couple weeks. I’ll fly back to be in Ohio, but now there is so much preparation. I thought you might like to know a little about an Old Order Amish wedding, so I’ll take the space to write about it. By the way, I’ve never heard about an arranged marriage here. Maybe my circle of friends might not travel far enough, but my friends are not aware of them either. Wedding preparation starts months in advance. The weddings take place in the homestead, usually the wedding ceremony takes place in the barn (all cleaned out and comfy), and then the celebration is held in the shop (all painted, decorated, and looking like a large hall). In the five weddings I’ve attended within the Old Order Amish, there have been about 450 guests invited to each one. They rent a huge tent and plenty of tables and chairs, and connect it right to the shop. There is also a wedding trailer rented which holds a huge refrigerator, five stoves, mixers, slicers, etc., all hooked up to a huge generator outside. They set up sinks outside under a small tent to wash dishes, etc. They also rent a really large cooking surface (like a grill) to cook the stuffing for the chicken. They peel hundreds of potatoes the day before, which they have picked out of their garden and whip them fresh for the wedding meal. Many times a caterer is hired to cook the wedding chicken though. They also order the cake. The whipped potatoes (yum, you’ve never tasted anything like Amish mashed potatoes) and vegetables are also prepared right at the wedding site. The wedding service is held at the barn, while the “worker bees” are busy getting everything ready at the shop/ tent. The wedding service itself usually takes about 4 hours because there is first a church service, and that in itself takes at least 3½ hours. Then the bishop calls the wedding party up to the front and marries the couple. The father does not give away his daughter, rings are not exchanged (in fact, Amish do not wear any kind of jewelry), the wedding party is there but there are no flowers or veils. The bride selects colors for the different participants in the wedding party and the servers, etc. The bride and groom most often wear black with a white shirt (never containing any pockets on a shirt, even in the fields or at home), and the bride also usually wears black with a white apron. The wedding/food servers however have colors. At this wedding, the photographer will be wearing a lovely color of blue, and all the ladies will be wearing a different color (which they make themselves) depending on what her job is: example; blue for water glasses, green for salads, yellow for chicken, lavender for vegetables, etc. The groomsmen will wear corresponding colors as the servers, and they bring the food from the food tent to the distribution point, then pick up the food dishes, etc. It runs very smoothly. There is a little ceremony when they cut the cake, and everyone enjoys the festivities. Afterward, everyone there helps clear the tables, wash the dishes, etc., and then the men pile the gifts on large folding tables. There is neither music nor dancing. Once the towels and linens are washed and hung on the line, the opening of gifts begins. Gifts include large gifts like a generator, lawn mower, lawn equipment, tools, washing machine, etc. Other gifts include outdoor hoses, wheelbarrow, pots and pans, dishes, kitchen items such as cooking utensils, bowls, always at least one huge clock for outside of the house, and more. About 4 PM, the older adults start heading for home, and the young people take over and celebrate among themselves.
When the couple first becomes engaged, they get baptized into the Amish faith (usually about one month before the marriage ceremony), and the bishop announces that they are now engaged. The man (they have been in Rumspringa until being baptized, so they usually own a truck and some English clothing) sells his truck and buys a horse and buggy, builds a barn and gets prepared to invite his family in. The woman gives her notice to her employer and quits her employment to work on the wedding and begin to arrange their home for moving day. No, they do not live together before the wedding. The couples are usually younger, and they marry for life. Before finding their partner they go to young people’s get-togethers, such as volleyball games, truck pulls, etc. They are usually married by the age of 23 years old, but some get married earlier. Once they find the person “made for them” (my words), they never date anyone else again! Two of the marriages from last year and the year before have already welcomed their new little additions into this world. The Amish dads are just amazing! No, they are not slaves to a cell phone, or to the business, or to a computer. They participate fully in the raising of the children. It’s quite beautiful to watch.
Well, that’s enough about the Amish for now, and I’ve run out of words, but I’ll see you again in a couple weeks with local news.