Half of the draw of Lancaster County is the Amish, right? We all want to know about the people who don’t use traditional electricity, grow the majority of their own food and really only rely on others in the Amish Community. But what about weddings? In Part 1, let’s talk about dating, getting ready for a wedding and what the ‘dress code’ is.
The Amish don’t casually date. They get to know each other at their youth groups, hops and during hang-outs. A hang out feels suspiciously like a double date to me. Because of this, once a young lady agrees to a date with a gentleman, it’s a really big deal. Often the dating couples family will attend the youth group during the first date. The youth will decorate the young man’s carriage with cans, balloons and streamers and they’ll make a huge fuss when they head out for their date. Amish dates, generally involve taking the young lady home from youth group in your carriage and then hanging out, talking at her parent’s house. You might go in and have a snack or play a game, but it’s really a chance to start getting to know each other.
Like everyone else, they might date for a long time before the gentleman proposes or sometimes just a couple of months. But during the time that they are dating, the girl will often sleep over at the boy’s house, in a spare room and attend church and/or youth group together. Also, it’s important to know that the Amish don’t practice arranged marriages and on occasion, the couple will break up because it’s not right for one or both of them.
Amish Wedding Prep
Once she says yes, then the real work begins. Because there are so many Amish in this area and weddings are only held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from October through March, finding a date when you don’t have a cousin or some other family already getting married can be difficult. The Amish do not send save the dates and official invitations aren’t sent until about 10 weeks prior to the wedding. Most of the invitations are hand delivered.
As the wedding happens at the Bride’s home farm, it will need to be spit shined, everything will be painted and spruced up. If the wedding happens in March, the gardens will all be mulched and everything will be gorgeous.
Depending on the number of guests (often several hundred) and the size of the buildings on the farm, the Amish will often rent a Wedding House and portable kitchen. The Wedding House is assembled a couple days prior to the wedding. It can be as early as the weekend before the wedding to as late as the day prior to the wedding!
A bench wagon will also be delivered. The bench wagon contains benches. The benches are used for the wedding service, then rearranged and used for the wedding meals.
Amish Wedding Traditions
Bridal Showers & Registry
The Amish definitely do things different than we do. First, there is no bridal shower or registry. The bride and groom will pick out the things they need together and the groom will buy the china for his new bride. A service large enough to host their families for Sunday dinner.
Amish Wedding Dress
The bride picks a color for her wedding dress. There are no rules to what color the fabric can be, just generally the bride’s favorite color. They tend to be deep, rich colors. Once the color has been picked, all of the females in both the bride & the groom’s families will make their dress from the same fabric. If the color feels too dark for the little girls, the bride will pick a second color for them to wear.
The bride and her bridal party wear white organza aprons over their dress as well as new white coverings. Coverings are the head pieces that the females wear over their hair. All of the females at an Amish wedding wear a head covering, regardless of age. As a wedding is a special ‘dress up’ event, the females also wear what is called a ‘cape’ over their dress. The cape, is piece made from the same fabric that is cut a little bit higher and it flares out over the shoulders. The cape goes over your head and is tucked into the apron. In the photo on the left, you can see a woman in blue dress with a black cape and a woman in a purple dress with a white cape.
The men who attend the wedding all wear the Sunday best. Not many of the men wear ties.