During the first part of June, I happened to be driving past an Amish home on a dirt county road, on my way to visit Mahlon, my Amish friend who sometimes contributes to our blogs.
At this house, dozens of buggies were parked in a field, and in the distance near the home, a huge white tent stood with two or three other, smaller tents, surrounding it.
I had no idea what this setting was about, so I asked Mahlon about it. He explained that a wedding was taking place.
Curious about the Amish community’s traditions surrounding weddings, I asked him to explain. He obliged:
“Weddings are a really, really big deal in our community,” he said. “Some last two or three days.” After a hearty breakfast, the festivities begin.
Typically, a ceremony lasts longer than an English wedding, with several congregational songs sung in German, and prayers, with the Bishop and elders of the church meeting, with covenants made by the groom, by the parents, by the bride, and then by everyone involved in the wedding.
Often, two more post-wedding meals are served. The first meal involves the wedding party and the many relatives extending through several generations.
After the meal and more celebrations, a second meal is served, this time involving friends and co-workers.
“It’s a full day,” explains Mahlon, “but it’s a very fun day.”
Afterwards, the new couple is escorted to their home. The Amish do not have a honeymoon, as most of them farm and are unable to get away from their responsibilities.
Out of town guests and relatives may stay at the parents’ homes for another day or two.
Similar to English weddings, the Amish weddings involve the bride’s choosing a representing color for herself and her bridal party. These colors might vary slightly, but they definitely fit the traditional colors of the Amish community, with shades of blue being the most common colors.
Mahlon also showed me a “wedding box,” sort of a shadow box keepsake his wife and he share as a token symbol of their special day. That box highlights special words and patches of fabric from their wedding day. The box is not used as a decoration in their home.
Celebrating the union of two people who will be together for a lifetime seems deserving of a long, all-day ceremony. Most English weddings are finished within several hours from the bride being ushered down the aisle.
It also seems that an all day event carries the message that the entire community stands in support of the marriage, and that as a community, others will walk alongside the new couple as they venture into this new journey.
Above all, an Amish wedding is a strong reminder of the sacred joining of two people for a lifetime.