Amish Weddings – Part 2
We covered Dating, Wedding Prep and Traditions in the Amish Wedding post so, let’s carry on and talk about the actual wedding, the meals and everything else that happens.
The wedding party is small. Both the bride and groom have 2 attendants and they are chosen from their immediate families. The women in the bridal party wear whatever color dress the bride has picked, along with a white organza cape and apron. New coverings are purchased for the wedding. Different regions of Amish wear different style of coverings, but her in Lancaster, our Amish wear the heart shaped coverings.
The cape is an topper, that is higher than their normal dress and is worn for ‘formal’ occasions such as church, weddings and funerals. Most of the time, the cape is made from the same fabric as the dress, but there are rules regarding the cape color as well as everything else. But the bridal party wears white organza capes. The Groom and his groomsmen all just wear their Sunday best, black pants, black jacket and white button down shirt. They may or may not wear a string tie.
Amish Weddings happen almost every Tuesdays and Thursdays from October through December. Several years ago, they started having ‘Spring’ weddings in March, and now you can often see a ‘wedding party’ in January & February and occasionally in May. They are a full day affair and the couple has no idea who’s performing the ceremony until the day. The wedding house, or possibly the barn depending on the size of the farm and the space available, will be set up for a church service. The room is filled with benches from the bench wagon and everyone sits facing the center.
The bride & groom on opposite sides of the center isle, with their wedding party with them. The women sit together on one side with the men on the opposite side. The service generally starts as 8am, but the ‘Spring’ weddings start at 9, with the actual wedding taking place around 2 and half hours into there service. Once the couple is officially married, they walk out of the wedding house together. It is one of the few times you will actually see Amish display affection, generally with the
couple holding hands as they leave the ceremony.
The Famous Amish Wedding Meal
All Amish Weddings include several meals, but the first one happens right after the ceremony around noon. It is the meal you will find when you go out to dinner and order Amish Wedding Dinner or when fire departments host wedding meal fundraisers. The meal consists of roast chicken mixed with stuffing. Each of the sisters and Aunts take home a whole chicken and a roasting pan and slow roast the chicken, and then pick the meat off the bones. The chicken is then mixed with stuffing.
There are mashed potatoes that are so creamy and smooth. The potatoes are loaded with butter, sour cream and mixed in huge 5 gallon buckets with paint mixer paddles used only for making wedding potatoes. There is always creamed celery. There may or may not be coleslaw, salad, and rolls. The table will be loaded with trays for donuts and other desserts and there will be a passed dessert, so make sure you save room.
First Singing at Amish Weddings
Immediately following the wedding meal, everyone goes to the designated spot for gifts and the couple ‘opens’ everything. Most of the gifts are brought wrapped in clear cellophane so they aren’t technically opened. The girls in the bridal party write down as much as possible – who the gift is from and what it is.
While the gifts are being opened. Everyone signs from a prepared song book. These songs are in English and tend to be fairly well known songs. Our local Amish tend to take singing classes and the majority of them sing absolutely beautifully.
What Happens Next?
After the gifts are opened, believe it or not, they go back into the wedding house for more singing and eating. This time the singing is in German and it sounds like bells. The newlyweds sit at a head table. During this singing, the wives sit behind their husbands in rows in the middle of the room. The unattached young men will ask a young lady to accompany them in. All of the food gifts are opened and passed and people continue eating.
Then for a couple of hours, everyone just mingles around and visits. While this is happening, the evening meal is being prepared; the youth are playing volleyball and the adults are visiting. The family is busy fixing food and the newlyweds are in her bedroom, pairing up the youth that aren’t attached. (I know, right?!)
Evening Meal at Amish Weddings
Just prior to the evening meal, the newlyweds gather all of the youth together. By now the volleyball nets are down and folks are starting to think about going home. Most people don’t have room for another bite of food, but many want to watch and see the ‘pairings.’ Because the Amish don’t date socially like other cultures do, a wedding is a good place to meet someone you might not otherwise. Everyone gathers in the designated space and the youth are paired up. The ‘new couple’ will head into the meal together, giving them a chance to sit and get to know each other. Only youth who are not dating or engaged are paired up, so you may still end up with some singles.
The brides family will quickly grab their evening meal in an out of the way space, before the pairing up starts. And almost immediately after the last meal, folks will start leaving. The brides family, and sometimes the grooms will stay late into the night to help with the cleaning up after the wedding. When I say the brides family, I literally mean her entire family. All of her siblings with their families as well as aunts and uncles help with the set up, cooking, serving, clean up and tear down. Within 2 days after the wedding, it’s hard to tell that a wedding ever took place! It’s all completely back to normal.
We hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about Amish Weddings. Please let us know if you’d like to know more.