A few months ago I attended my third Amish wedding. This one was for a granddaughter of “Mrs. R.,” whom I talked about in another post, and that's how I got my invitation. I’ve watched the happy bride (and her busy mother) get ready for this event all spring, and I looked forward to the big day!
An Amish wedding starts out with a regular Amish church service, which lasts about three hours. Things began at 9 a.m. in the basement of the farm next door, which is the home of one of the bride’s aunts. (This is where they hold church whenever it’s their turn to host it—about twice a year.)
The women sat on half a dozen benches on the right side of the entrance. The men and older boys sat on benches on the left side. The young unmarried girls, along with the half dozen “English” guests such as myself, sat on the third side. The ministers sat in the center, with the couple and their two pairs of attendants. One of the highlights of the service was the fact that the bride’s father was one of the two ministers who preached.
At about noon the regular service ended and the bride, groom, and their four attendants (or as they say, “witnesses”) stepped forward. The bishop for their church district performed the short ceremony; only Amish bishops are allowed to perform Amish weddings.
Now the guests made their way from the wedding farm to the farm house next door, by way of a wood-chip path that had been laid down between the farms, just for the occasion.
The wedding dinner (actually a series of meals over the course of the of day) took place at the farm of the bride’s parents, shown below. I was there for the first meal, which happened about 1:00 in a large building on the farm. The bridal party sat on a raised table under a canopy of flowers. The ten pairs of servers chosen by the couple served the food—being chosen as a wedding server is an honor. There was a large tent set up nearby for the work of the cooks, and a third tent for the gifts.
The Amish drink their coffee black. I forgot about that fact, and asked one of the servers for some sugar and cream. He looked baffled—which caused me to say, “Never mind!” But a few minutes later, the mother of the bride came around with sugar and cream, which she had gone to the house to fetch, just for me.
I left after the meal, but Amish wedding celebrations last all day. There was a second meal sitting for those who weren’t invited to the ceremony due to lack of space; then a third sitting for the cooks and servers; then later in the day, the opening of gifts in a special tent; then in the evening, another meal sitting for the young unmarried people. At many weddings, a game of volleyball occupies the teens in the afternoon, as the younger kids run around and play.
The wedding season ends about now (late October). By the time I got around to writing this, the new couple are settled in their new home and, I hope, living Happily Ever After!
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