Yesterday I was at an Amish wedding for the day. I have been to them before, but this time I really tried to pay close attention to how they do their weddings. An Amish wedding is an event that they plan in a short time. They have a courting period where the young man visits his lady friend at the kitchen table only on Sunday evenings at her parents home. They have to sit across from each other with a kerosine lamp in between them. The parents keep their door open and the couple is allowed to visit with each other for several hours that evening. I like that way of courting. Then after they decide that they are fit for one another, they start planning their wedding.
They have a wedding trailer that has enough dishes and benches to serve the guests, so they all invested in that and share it with each of the families when they have a wedding. The weddings are always during the week. This one was on a Thursday. As they prepare for the day, they have someone in the community, my friend Martha, who makes the cake, and they pick about 20 women to cook the meal. They make about 100 pounds of chicken and they usually raise it themselves in the two months prior to the wedding. They pick about 20 table waiters who are generally unmarried young folks. The table waiters have matching colored dresses and the cooks have a similar color but a little darker. The married women tend to wear darker shades of color and the younger ladies wear more pastel shades. They put out candy and nuts on the tables and serve many wonderful things that the cooks have prepared: salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, pie, cake, pudding. Full family style. The cooks arrive at 7 am and start cooking.
The couple actually sees each other that morning and helps everyone make sure everything is ready. The old barn or pole shed is decorated for the event. Families will assist cleaning the shed and setting up the tables. You would never guess it was once a dirty old machine shed. I arrived about 6:45 am with my girls to take some photos of the tables for the couple. The can only have photos of the decorations and nothing of the event itself. After I took the photographs, I went to my Amish friends house where they dressed my daughters and I in full Amish attire. If I was dressed in my normal attire, we would have to sit with the English folk. I wanted to sit with the women and take part. It is also out of respect, often times I dress Amish so that I am not a stumbling block to them. I do not want to be a worldly influence to them. About 8:45 am they usher the married women with their young babies and children into the barn where they hold the matrimony. The women sit together separate from the men. Then the ministers come in and shake every one of the married ladies hands to greet them. Next, the men come in with some of their little boys.
After they are seated, the young ladies come in, and then the young men, and they begin to sing out of the Ausbund. It is there ancestors hymnal during the times of great persecution. My girls thought they were yodeling as they change pitch for every syllable. It is very neat. I think it is more along the lines of Gregorian Chant. Very ancient sounding. I like following along and then I ask the girls why they aren’t singing along. It is in High German so of course they do not understand it. After one whole hour of singing, the ministers preach for two hours. At the end of the two hours, the couple will stand and their witnesses, and be wedded in holy matrimony. No white dresses, no first kiss. Very different from what I am used to being around in the world. The bride had a homemade dark lavender dress on with a black head covering. After the wedding, she switches to a white covering to symbolize being married. The meal begins and and keep coming. You think there will never be an end to the supply. Actually, after the meal is finished the cooks will start fixing casseroles from the left over food supply to serve that same evening. They sing together, play volleyball, visit, and just relax. In the evening they will eat together again and sing until dark. Just thought you would enjoy a little culture. I enjoyed it.