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

Thursday, November 10, 2022

The Bride Wore Purple: A Guest Post

It is my pleasure to share a guest post today!

This post was written by a fan of my Facebook page, Cindy Cosmo, describing the Amish wedding she attended recently.  I hope you enjoy her description as much as I did.

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The Night Before

Larry and I arrived in Shipshewana on Thursday, October 27, the night before the wedding. Vera (mother of the bride) called me on their outside phone…  When she found out we were staying the night, she invited us to come over that evening so she could show us around.  I'm so glad we went; we haven’t seen her or Clyde in three years and I wasn't sure if I would recognize her (or vice versa)!

Vera told me if I wanted to take pictures to take them that night, because it would be too hard to do them the day of the wedding. (The Amish do not like the English taking their pictures.) The dinner settings were set up in the banquet building and it was amazing! She told me they could fit around 400 people, so it was set up with very long tables and benches. (The benches, which are also used for church, are stored in a bench wagon; every church district has one.)

Gray plastic tablecloths with darker gray runners covered the tables, and sprinkled on the tables were flat back glass stones. Huge vases in the middle of the tables were filled with beautiful array of flowers. The plates and silverware were just gorgeous.

In an Amish wedding they have wedding wagons that come and family/friends to help with all the cooking. The china settings and silverware are rented.  I did take a couple of quick pictures of the tables; there was a red stepladder in the middle which of course would be gone the next day.  

As I was leaving, Vera pointed out a guitar shape plaque on the wall with the names and the wedding date of Brenda and Merlin and also the names of the Table Waiters, Coffee Servers, Water Boys, Special Helpers and Day Brighteners—more about that later. Vera told me I could take a picture of it, which I did.

The Wedding Day

This was my first Amish wedding and it took place on Friday, October 28, 2022, and it was a wonderful experience!  Larry was invited, but he has been fighting a cold so he just dropped me off and took a distant picture as I was heading for the Amish church service/ceremony. There had to be at least 100+ Amish men standing and waiting outside.

I felt sheepish but I looked at one man and said, can I go in the building, and he said yes. As I entered, I saw that all the Amish women and children were already there. The women and the girls were dressed in shades of pastel blues, greens, brown, grey, and purple; one little Amish girl had on a bright yellow dress. All the women except the bride wore white caps, the bride had a black cap.

The young boys wore white shirts and had either black or grey pants with matching suspenders. The Amish men wore dark pants and coats with white shirts; they wear suspenders and not belts. The Amish men take off their hats and hang them outside before entering the building. 

In the Amish services, the men sit on one side and the women on the other.  When I entered, an Amish woman asked where I wanted to sit, and my reply was anywhere you want to put me. The woman said, would you like to sit so your back can be against the wall and I said yes—phew, that saved me from a backache!

Amish services are three hours long—you sit on backless wooden benches and it is all in a form of German called “Pennsylvania Dutch.”  There was supposed to be another English couple at the 9 a.m. service and three people from South Carolina were joining us at 10.  But the 9 a.m. couple never showed up, so for a good hour I was the lone Englisher in a church full of Amish people!

An Amish man came over and handed me a hymnbook, all in German. The service started on time, at 9 a.m. The ceiling was metal and they love to sing—so when they sang, the rafters almost shook!

I sat there and listened, holding the hymnbook, when two Amish women showed me the page, so of course I opened it up and stared at it—I don't know German. For the first two hours they sang, no talking. I found out after they sang for quite a while and then were silent for a minute, that it meant we were changing songs/pages in the book. So I was still on page 55 and when the next round started, the two women showed me we were on page 170—LOL!  

The future bride and groom and their witnesses came in around 10 or so. There were six metal chairs in front for the bride, who sat in the middle, and her two witnesses, who sat opposite of the groom and his two witnesses. The bride looked lovely wearing a purple dress with what I believe is called a white cape with an apron over her dress, with a black cap, stockings and shoes. Her two witnesses were dressed in matching gray dresses.

Around 11, the servers and the cooks came in the building.  There were 15 empty long benches reserved for them, and they filled all of them.

Several large bowls of candy were passed around at that time for the children—and seeing the smiles on their faces, you could tell they really enjoyed the treat.

The father of the groom started to speak in front of the couple and the witnesses.  Since it was mostly in Pennsylvania Dutch, I didn't understand what he was saying, but every so often an English word was said, so I kind of got the gist of it—he welcomed Brenda to the family. He spoke at least 20 minutes and then another minister spoke.  After that the Bishop performed the ceremony, which was short, I think less than 10 minutes. It was serious—no  flowers, no wedding rings, no kisses or clapping for the newly married.

Soon afterwards, the servers left, then the bride and groom’s families left, then Brenda and Merlin, and then all of us. I was quite impressed that the children were so well behaved and when it was time for prayer—silence. Some people were surprised when I told them that the three hours actually went fast—maybe because of all the singing they did, which was beautiful to hear and listen to—or maybe it was just the experience itself, but it the time did go by quickly.

After the Ceremony

It was a beautiful day—the sun was shining and other than being a little nippy in the shade, you couldn't ask for a more perfect day for a wedding!  I was standing outside with Vera’s sister, waiting until we would all go in to get seated for the meal. Vera’s sister told me that the bride, groom, and four witnesses were inside her parent’s house.

When they came out, Merlin’s young niece threw rose petals on the path they were walking on. Brenda now had a white cap on instead of the black cap, meaning she was now a married woman.  Before the men get married, they do not have beards, but now Merlin will be growing his. Young children were opposite each other on the path, and as Brenda and Merlin went by, the children handed them a single rose—it was cute and quite touching to see.

I mentioned above about Day Brighteners on the guitar plaque. Brenda and Merlin decided to give the small children a part in the ceremony, passing out the roses to the bride and groom, and they wanted their names mentioned on the plaque.

We finally gathered in the banquet hall…  The Amish men were seated first, followed by the women and the four English people who attended. We Englishers sat across from some Amish women and when we asked some questions, they were very nice and helpful.

Before luncheon was served, they sang “Gott Ist Die Liebe,” which translated is, “God Is Love.”  Afterwards we were all talking when a prayer was about to be said—and suddenly, just like that, the whole room was quiet—I was very impressed!

Now the luncheon was being served.  The first thing that was passed around the table was a small piece of wheat bread with homemade marmalade jam and butter; followed by meatballs; stuffing; green beans; homemade mashed potatoes with rich gravy; and cornbread casserole. We had water and coffee with our meal.

Before long, a second round of food came our way and then finally the dessert. I didn't see a wedding cake but they had some mighty good desserts and of course I had to take a little of everything! There was pecan pie; cream pie; blueberry pie; and homemade ice cream and raspberry sauce.

As we were eating, a young Amish boy came to all the tables and we all got a pen with the names of the bride and groom and the date they were married to take home. Just after we finished eating, a huge bowl of candy was passed around.  I was “stuffed,” but I took some candy for my husband.  As we were exiting, we passed by the couple’s table and shook hands and congratulated them.

I forgot to mention that when I got the invite, I was asked if I wanted to go to the noon or the 4 p.m. seating. I later found out that they were having two more seatings that day—one at mid-afternoon (this was for the servers and cooks) and I think the last one was at 7—that was for the younger people.

I was also told that the bride and groom stay at the bride’s parents house the first night, so they can help with the cleanup the next day. Everything had to be cleaned quickly since the wedding wagons would leave around 10 a.m. Weddings are usually on a Tuesday and Thursday, but because there are so many, other days are used too (with the exception of Saturday and Sunday).

 Opening the Gifts

Another tent was set up outside where the bride and groom had their gifts. The other English people left, leaving me the only English person there. I have read that in some parts of the Amish community, only Amish are invited to the gift opening, but I was told I could go in, and I wanted to experience it all, so I followed the woman that I was talking to.

As soon as I entered, Vera saw me and invited me to sit with her up front—we had a nice chat. The bride and groom opened their gifts but did not pick them up or say what it was or who it was from—but I could see everything so that was fine.

While doing this, the Amish men once again sang. I asked Vera if that was religious and she sort of nodded and said it was a wedding song. The gifts they received were practical and things they would need for the household, and Merlin also received some tools. The gifts were mostly wrapped in towels or blankets which was a good idea and certainly wouldn't go to waste.  I was working on an afghan to give them but being self-taught, I wasn't happy with one edge and I didn't complete it in time, so Larry and I decided to give them a gift certificate to Blue Gate Restaurant.

It was after 3 p.m. and they still had gifts to open so I finally texted Larry and said I would be ready in ten minutes. I saw Vera and she thanked me for coming, along with a few other Amish women I met… but I felt like I should be thanking her, since it was probably a once in a lifetime experience and I was honored to be invited.

A Few More Photos 

As I waited for Larry, I wanted to take pictures, but I was leery because I know how the Amish feel about taking photos of them.  I tried to be careful, but I did get some of the kids playing volleyball from a distance.  I sort of hid trying to get pictures of the hanging towels.  


*** text and photos courtesy of Cindy Cosmo ***

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Monday, September 12, 2022

The Pie Critic Returns: Fresh Peach Pie

 Last fall my husband Gary did a “guest post” called “The Pie Critic” in which he evaluated four local pumpkin pies and rated them.  Well, he’s back, and now he’s going to talk to you about fresh peach pies—meaning, the shell is baked, then the filling is added, then a topping of whipped cream, so the filling is fresh, not baked.

Fresh peach pie is part of what Gary calls the “Fresh Fruit Pie Trifecta”—strawberry in June, blueberry in July, and peach in August, typically.

Our first pie (above) is from Blue Gate Bakery, a part of the Blue Gate Restaurant complex in central Shipshewana.  I’m not a fan of the restaurant these days, but the bakery remains a favorite—although not in this case…  Gary showed up on a Monday morning to see a sign saying “Today Only—Fresh Peach” with a price.  He mistakenly thought they had fresh peach only that day, but the reality was, it was the sale price that was “Today Only.”  But he took home the pie…

Gary rates this one only 2 forks.  His comments:  “Fresh?—I don’t think so. The fruit was already getting soft...  It had a good amount of fruit, and I bet three days earlier it would have been great.  They are very generous with their whipped cream topping, and the crust was very good too.  But I ended up having one piece, and then throwing the rest away.”

Our second pie (above) is from Country Lane Bakery.  This bakery make mini pies as well as full sized ones, and Gary bought a mini.  Country Lane is located south of Route 20 between Shipshe and Middlebury, on County Road 43.  It’s a small Amish-run bakery with a whole lot of amazing food for sale.

Gary rates this one 3.5 forks.  His comments:  “The filling tasted very good.  It had a fair amount of fruit but not loaded, just okay.  The crust was a bit overdone, which is very atypical for Country Lane—I’ve almost never bought anything there that was underbaked or overbaked!  The whipped cream on top was okay, but not as good as Blue Gate’s.”


Our third pie (above) is from Essenhaus Bakery, located adjacent to Das Dutchman Essenhaus Restaurant in Middlebury.  This pie was also a convenient mini size, so the picture shows half the pie.

Gary rates this one 4.5 forks.  He says, “The crust was excellent—flaky and cooked perfectly.  The filling was also excellent with a good amount of fresh fruit.  The whipped cream was also excellent.  The peach slice garnish was a nice touch."

As always, nobody can ever get 5 forks except Gary’s mom!…  However—he managed to get ahold of a fresh peach pie from our dear friend Ruth.  Sorry to say, her pies aren’t available for purchase—only for lucky friends like us!  Gary says, “I give Ruth’s fresh peach pie 4.75 stars—4 forks and 3 tines!  The crust was perfect, it had good and generous fresh fruit, a nice whipped topping—and she added her own special touch—a thin layer of cream cheese between the crust and the fruit filling.  Amazing!”

Stay tuned for more from my favorite foodie, the handsome and talented Pie Critic.  <3