I just received an invitation to the wedding of one of my favorite young Amishman, and that reminded me—I never wrote up the last wedding I attended. So, here are some highlights from a wedding I attended last fall. I have written about this topic before, and I’ll put those links at the end of this post.
I was invited for the 9:00 time slot, which means the actual 3+ hour ceremony and the wedding meal afterwards at about noon. After that there is a break in the afternoon when the kids play, the adults socialize, the cooks and table helpers eat, and the bride and groom open their presents. Then there is then a 5:00 meal for a few hundred guests who weren’t close enough family to be invited in the morning at 9:00. (Room is very limited, which is to say, only a few hundred guests for each seating!) Then at 7:00 there is another meal, this time for the unmarried young people.
I arrived about 8:15 a.m. and hung around with the groom’s mother and sisters in the reception room, which was normally the family’s industrial workshop. (I know for a fact it took a week and a lot of labor to empty it out and clean it!) Since I was there so early, I was able to take some photos, which are below.
Notice in the first photo above—that is real china! All of this table stuff is rented from vendors who specialize in Amish weddings.
The second and third photos show the flowers, done by a professional Amish florist. One of the special pleasures of this wedding was that I was the one who took the bride to pick out her flowers and her wedding cake. The cake (I didn’t get a good photo) was done by a professional wedding bakery in Goshen.
The third photo shows the table where the bride and groom and their party (two pairs of witnesses) sat. As a side note—the groom is very good with his hands—he made the furniture you see in that picture! Notice the very large flower wreath behind the bride and groom chairs. It was the biggest one the florist had ever done. It had a water source running through it.
Most brides have some kind of permanent piece of house décor made that shows the names of everyone in the wedding party. They call this a “matrimonial,” and I’ve seen all kinds. This one (background in third picture above, and closer up below) was done by a painter and a calligrapher (both Amish) and was framed.
There was a big tent nearby where the 30-40 cooks and several dozen table waiters did their jobs. Being chosen to be one of the table waiters is considered an honor. There are usually about a dozen pairs, dressed in matching clothes, who are young unmarried friends or family of the couple. This posting on the wall helped the table waiters know what to do:
Also, there are normally one or two cook wagons (also rented) which contain lots of extra stoves, refrigerators, and freezers—I’ve pictured one below, alongside the cooks’ tent. It takes a head cook with a couple dozen helpers to pull off an event like this, which often involves nearly 1,000 meals over the course of the day! The head cook is often an aunt of the bride—but always someone with good organizational skills, or it would be chaos! The cooks dress in matching outfits, as do the table waiters, and they file into special rows of seating for the last hour or so of the wedding, so they don’t miss the actual wedding ceremony.
Most of the “English” guests, and there are usually a few, also come into the ceremony during the last hour only—but I like to be there for the entire thing, even though it’s in “Pennsylvania Dutch” and three hours long! The actual wedding ceremony is about 15 minutes at the end.
I stayed through the afternoon, since the mother of the groom is one of my best friends, other than a brief trip to take two of the men home to milk their dairy herds and then return to the wedding. So I was there for the opening of the gifts, which happens in a special tent filled with benches. (You can see that tent in the background of the picture above.) Gifts tend to be very practical, and often are wrapped in bath towels or other useful items. Such a good idea! (Now you know why Amish women have a rainbow collection of bath towels hanging on their clotheslines!)
A very special tradition: Little children pick out special gifts for the couple, which are things they like, as you can see… Those gifts are often hung from these laundry day sock rings. So now when little kids visit the new couple, they will have something to play with!
I’ll be going to another Amish wedding next month, and perhaps I’ll write that one up, too.
Here are links to some of the other Amish weddings I have attended over the years:
And also this post, about the preparations leading up to a wedding: