Guest at an Amish Wedding

16 May

62610_womanbonnet_smToday I was a plus one to my mom at an Amish wedding. We live smack in the middle of Ohio Amish Country so I’ve never really understood why their culture is so interesting to the world, its just average every day to those of us who live here.

Since the Amish culture is so interesting to everyone I thought I would share an insiders look as an outsider at one of their weddings. Today is a Thursday; weddings are on Thursdays, funerals are on Tuesdays, and church is every other Sunday. If you’re in this area in the summer on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Sunday be prepared for lots of buggy, bike, and foot traffic to slow  you down.

The wedding was at the brides house down a long gravel lane of graceful hills and rich vegetation. The main field was filled with the buggies of guests, their loyal steeds munching away on a wagon of hay. Two generator run trailers with ovens, refrigerators, and freezers were parked next to a white tent connected to a shop where the meal would be served.

The wedding service was held on the top floor of a large two level barn, red paint weather worn and the inside filled with twenty rows of golden stained church benches. The beaten plank floor was swept clean but still dust colored with age. Wood slatted walls and holes from lost knots streamed in gentle light and a cool breeze. Hay still dripped from the rafters as birds tweeted and chirped and children cried and cooed.

Women sat in rows on the right facing the  men whom sat in rows on the left. The bride and groom with their maids and men sat in the middle surrounded by the aged ministers with the bishop at the front. The long service was delivered by the bishop in high German, only a handful of English words were discernible from the jumble of rapid German; enjoy, service, the grooms name, and provide.

amish.horse.buggy.03A call and response song with a mild echo of a native american whooping was sung in deep mournful tones, no words were recognizable in German or English. Praying on their knees bent over the benches and quarter squats in unison after standing. The bride and groom don’t look at one another or touch during the ceremony and file out men leading, women following in conclusion.

A family style meal served in the shop, another building usually filled with tools and equipment, on the same golden benches. Pre-arranged servers all dressed in the same aqua blue dresses with white aprons bring dishes of googie breaded chicken, salad with cheese, bacon, and bbq dressing, slices of fresh homemade bread, bowls of homemade strawberry jam, rich stuffing, and creamy potatoes with cinnamon butter. Two desert choices were passed down the tables with cups of rich and creamy homemade vanilla ice-cream; massive slices of tiramisu and hoho cake.

The brides students ranging in age sang her a special song they wrote for her, more mournful tone singing from the ministers and bishop, clearing of the dishes, and filing out the meal concluded. Later tonight the young single friends and family of the bride and groom will come for another meal and a night of conversation.

Overall an interesting day, I definitely was out of my element and while everyone tried to be very welcoming to the only four English (non-Amish) in attendance you cant help but feel like an outsider when the whole day is carried out in a language you can only follow when English words are sprinkled in.

 

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