Wedding Customs of the Amish

The following information is on the wedding customs of the Amish. I am most familiar with the Amish of Lancaster PA. Through research I have other customs. The point is though the customs are basically the same, there are always differences in different communities.

The individual Bishops and Deacons of a community decide the rules under which that community will live. So some might say a certain color dress is okay for a wedding and others might say something else.

There are also other Amish groups that are not as strict as the Old Order ones and they may have incorporated some of the common western customs such as traditional wedding dresses.

Then there are young people who choose to marry outside of the Amish faith. If they have not been Baptised they will not be shunned, even though the family may not approve. They may choose to marry in a church, with a traditional wedding gown and music. Since they are not shunned, the Amish relatives might choose to come to the wedding. There will always be those who disapprove and won't attend the festivities.

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Wedding Customs of the Amish of Lancaster, PA

WEDDINGS Amish weddings are a secret until announced about two weeks before it actually happens. However, the community certainly guesses who is getting married. There are some tell-tale signs such as the amount of celery grown by a particular family. Celery is an important part of the wedding party.

Couples in Lancaster marry during November and December after the harvest is done. Celery is an important part of the traditional Amish wedding meal. It is used in the stuffing served with fowl. It is cut up and serves as an appetizer. Creamed celery is served as the main vegetable dish at the main meal.

It is important for a daughter to confide in her parents that she plans to marry. This way they can plant that extra patch of celery. And that is the clue that sends rumors through the community.

All Amish family members and friends are invited to the festivities. If any live too far to travel to the home, they may hire a van driver. It is not against the Amish beliefs to ride in a car, only to own it.

The long morning church service is followed by the marriage ceremony. The feasting begins in the afternoon. The mother provides the food, but certainly friends and other family help with the cooking which starts a week before the ceremony.

The traditions of an Amish wedding are different than ours but no less charming and romantic. There is a ceremony called, "Going to the table." Two married couples are appointed to oversee this tradition. After the noon meal is served, the unmarried women between sixteen and thirty are invited to sit in one of the large upstairs bedrooms. The men go to the barn where they stand around joking and visiting. It is the job of the married couple to convince the young men to go into the house and upstairs where the girls are waiting. The men then ask one of the girls to "go to the table." They are allowed to hold hands as they come down the stairway and sit at the long table.

Meanwhile the older folks sit on benches throughout the house. There is a lot of rousing hymn-singing. During the singings treats are passed around. This will include candies, fruits, cookies, and small pieces of cake. The singing is so enjoyed by everyone it goes on for hours until the bride and groom and their attendants leave the table.

It will surprise most people to know that in the evening the unmarried women are allowed to go to the barn and talk with the young men. The bride and groom are to make sure every unmarried young person who is at least 16, has a partner for the evening table. This is an important part of the wedding feast. If some do not wish to take part, they go home. Most stay.

Since the boys and girls are usually separated this is an important ritual. It is the way the young men and women get to know each other and see if there is a spark which will later lead to marriage.

What is a couple is paired who do not care for each other? Switches are allowed, but always with the bride and groom as facilitators. The married people have been served their evening meals. Gas lights are turned on and the whole house is filled with the soft glow.

The evening procession is led by the bride and groom who lead the way for the young couples. There is another meal, and lots of talk. The Amish do not have televisions or radios, but they do enjoy talking. Later on the humnbooks are passed around and everyone sings again. A wedding might not end to ten or eleven o'clock.

Weddings are happy social occasions eagerly anticipated each winter.