I was driving the grid of rural roads southeast of Berne, Indiana the other day. I rarely tire of driving there, it’s like slipping into another era with mile after mile after mile of old Amish farmsteads. Barely 100 yards from the Indiana-Ohio state line, I stumbled upon a scene that I instantly recognized: a wedding. Looking at my calendar and realizing it was Thursday drove the point home. Traditionally Amish weddings have been held on Thursdays although that is slowly changing. Some Amish weddings are shifting towards Fridays and Saturdays. Few Amish can actually give the reason behind the Thursday weddings, the original answer largely lost to history. Now they just cite “tradition.” The best answers I have been given date to the 19th century when people might have to travel a long distance by horse-drawn buggy to a faraway wedding…If the wedding was held on a Thursday faraway guests could leave without missing church on Sunday and then arrive back home for Sunday services, although since worship is held every other Sunday that theory has some holes. Amish couples do get marriage licenses so the ceremony is official and the advent of the “wedding wagon” has made life much easier for the bride’s family which usually holds the wedding at their home. In many of the larger Amish settlements, gone are the days of having to round up every spoon or plate, commandeering ovens, and procuring plates. These harried tasks have been made easier by renting a “wedding wagon”. For a fee, one can rent an RV-size mobile kitchen stocked with plates, portable ovens, tables, table service, glasses, tableclothes, and virtually everything else you’d need to throw a party for a 1000 people. These wedding wagons first started appearing only about 10 years ago by a few brilliantly enterprising Amish (rule one of capitalism: find a need and fill it)
This wedding outside of Geneva,Indiana is a more conservative community so I’m not surprised I didn’t see a wedding wagon on the premises here. Some Amish just feel the wedding wagons are a “lazy” way to go about things. A big tent was erected on the property, though, which allowed for the wedding to be held in the comforts of outdoors even with the rain. In the top photo you can see the open buggies quite clearly covered with matching black tarpaulins to keep out the rain. This photo was taken around 3 p.m., the wedding ceremony itself would have been long over. It would have started around 9 a.m. and ended around noon, followed by a big meal. But the gathering lasts all day, ending with an evening supper. This looks like a time when the youngest attendees of the wedding were gathering and having fun under the watchful eye of visiting parents.