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.
Kevin,I remember a video you shared that showed an Amish wedding wagon. I still think that is an exceptional idea!! How cool that you happened upon this wedding..lucky you!
It looks like you were spotted - in the top photo, one little boy looks like he is waving.
In Conewango NY weddings are on Tuesday or Thursday, but I have never known of them this early in the season...usually after the harvest in the fall into the winter months. No one has told me this, but I think that Thursday is most common because it gives the family 3 days to prepare and 2 days to cleanup. Also I have known of weddings held at a neighbors place if they have a larger building (shop or barn) than the family has.
Thanks for sharing, what an experience to stumble across an Amish wedding. I notice a car in the second picture. Would the Amish invite non Amish folk or family also to their weddings?
Zelka - Sure, non-Amish family and friends will be invited....another "non-Amish" contingent found at an Amish wedding would be the "drivers" for the Amish guests arriving from far away who couldn't come by horse and buggy. The drivers will usually be fed a meal after everyone else is done eating. The non-Amish guests usually will be seated separately from the Amish crowds, that's not to be rude but it's just more for everyone's comfort level. I'm sure there are exceptions to what I am saying, but these are general guidelines. Hope all is well Down Under!:) - Kevin
Has there EVER been an Amish divorce?.
Barbara about divorce...First of all, I have learned never to say never when it comes to the Amish. Has there EVER been an Amish divorce where BOTH parties remain Amish....I'm not going to commit to the word "never", but if it has happened, it would be EXTREMELY rare....Divorce is not permitted within the Amish religious framework. Now what you might well see happen - and this is still rare, but it does happen - is an Amish couple splits and one (usually the woman, but not always) leaves the Amish church and joins another...there seems to be more of a framework for dealing with this...However, the Amish church never really recognizes a divorce so a remarriage would be next to impossible. I will say this lack of an "escape mechanism" is a quaint throwback to how marriage used to be, but it can often lead to people feeling trapped in a bad marriage because there's really no place to go....I'm no fan of divorce, but the Amish just don't have good ways of dealing with bad marriages.
Thank you so much Kevin for your answers to my questions. What a fascinating culture. How neat it would be to get invited to an Amish wedding as a non Amish. It is really nice that they look after their drivers also. Imagine the smells and the tastes of the food being served, all fresh, done from scratch. Yummy.
Barbara, I was thinking the same thing. I would assume the Amish are quite strict about divorce and I would assume it rarely happens, if ever. Kevin, do you have an answer to this one?
Thank you, Kevin for all your respectful and helpful answers.