My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Thursday, June 10, 2021

A Spring Wedding, Part Two


This is the second post about a wedding I attended recently.  (Read the first part here.)  But the day wasn’t over for me after the wedding and reception!

My invitation had indicated that, for the first time ever, I was invited to the third official seating as well as the first one—the 7:00 p.m. meal.  This was an exciting opportunity for me, because this is the young people’s seating, and it involves singing.  (The groom had rightly guessed that I would enjoy it.)

But lots of things happened before that… 

I had indicated to the family that I would be available that day to take care of emergencies, and the first one happened before the wedding even began!  The mother of the bride came and found me with a problem—the chicken barbeque team, who had been working since the previous evening, was out of Sweet Baby Ray’s!  They had gone through four gallons already, and needed two more.

The way things work is, during the 3+ hour wedding, the food team (typically 40+ people) are prepping for the three formal seatings that day, and the one informal seating (where the food team and table servers sit down and eat in the mid-afternoon).  So, they would be barbequing during the ceremony.

I was dispatched to go down to E&S Foods in Shipshewana and pick up some sauce…  An hour later, mission accomplished.

I made it back in time for the start of the ceremony… but half an hour in, a family member crept in and motioned me to follow her out.  Turns out one of the groom’s sisters needed to rush home for something she’d forgotten.  (Actually, her toddler had made off with it and she found it on the living room floor.)  So I drove her home and back and then rejoined the church service.

After the service everyone walked across an open field from a neighbor’s home to the bride’s home for the noon meal.  But as soon as I got back, someone asked if I could take my car back over and bring back an older woman who couldn’t walk very well, which I did.  She was very grateful—that open field was pretty rough terrain!

So then came the noon meal, which I talked about in Part One… 

Afterward, I decided to go home until the 7 p.m. seating.  I’d talked to all the people I knew, and I wanted to go home and play with my puppy. But before, I left, I asked if anything else was needed, and the groom sent me out to get 12 pounds of bacon.  So back to E&S I went.  I talked to a manager and got it added to the bride’s account—and I even got a discount!

The evening session was wonderful.  I assumed I’d be stashed in an inconspicuous corner, which would have been fine!  But I was seated with the young people, across from a young man I know quite well.  There were 8 tables of 25 apiece, so about 200 young people attended.

They have a special old custom for this event…  Some wedding parties follow it, and some don’t—and in this case, they partially followed it.  In its most structured form: First the couples married six months or less file into the dining area.  Then the dating couples file in.  Lastly, the single and unattached young people fall in line as random boy-and-girl couples and file in.  That last part wasn’t done here—the young men entered the dining area single file, as did the young women.  They sit at the tables in this same order, with girls on one side of the long tables and boys on the other side.  I came in last and the host seated me at the last long table, on the end, on the girls’ side. 

The table servers from the previous seatings, being mostly young people, are no longer the table servers for the evening seating, so that they are freed to join the meal and singing.  Instead, married couples related to the family did most of the table serving.

After the meal (which had a slightly different menu than the noon meal), the singing began.  The songs were found in a booklet we were given, shown below.  The booklet also listed the wedding party and had a special message for the guests.

Most of the songs were in English, and I was able to sing along.  For the one with the verses in High German (the language of their Bible and hymnal), I just listened and tried to follow along!

After about a half hour of singing, the evening ended.  Before leaving, the guests stood up one table at a time and filed by the wedding party’s table, offering congratulations and leaving gifts.  (Most of the young people give cash gifts.)

Almost immediately, an army of volunteers materialized and began dis-assembling the wedding reception venue.  Tables were cleared in a manner of minutes and the food team began washing and drying the dishes, table by table, with military precision.  Then benches and tables began to disappear, followed by nearly everything else in the room and surrounding tents.  Benches were loaded into the bench wagons, dishes were carefully repacked into their wooden crates, and within an hour, thanks to the multitude of help, you’d never know a full day of celebration had just taken place there.

I do hope, dear reader, that you enjoyed hearing more about Amish weddings.  In the Amish culture, marriage is for life, and we would hope and pray that every couple will have a lifetime of happy memories of this special day.

No comments:

Post a Comment