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Amish Wedding Traditions and Dating Customs
The importance of family is part of what makes the Amish community such a tight-knit group and choosing a spouse to build a family with is a crucial and joyous element of that. Dating customs and wedding traditions among the Amish vary from community to community. While you can’t assume one community will be just like another, you can bet they will be quite different from a typical “English” ceremony!
The Amish Community and Dating
Dating among the Amish typically begins around age 16 with most Amish couples marrying between the ages of 20 and 22. To find a prospective date, the young adults socialize at functions such as frolics, church, or home visits. One of the most popular activities is the Sunday night singing. The Sunday night singings can include Amish youth from several districts, and typically take place in someone’s home or barn.
During the singing, Amish boys and girls sit at a long table facing each other singing hymns and socializing between the songs. The singing lasts until around ten o’clock, at which point baked goods and drinks are brought out for the teens to enjoy as they mingle for an hour or two. If a boy is interested in a girl, he offers to give her a ride home.
While English dates might include a dinner and a movie, Amish dates typically involve taking buggy rides together or participating in outdoor activities with a group. Some of the more progressive churches allow the young couple to travel into town for an evening meal. Because the Amish community does not allow for divorce, the courting process is taken very seriously.
Wedding Traditions Among the Amish
Engagements among the Amish are typically regarded as private. In fact, a newly engaged couple might wait until July or August to even share the news with their parents. The family, in turn, keeps the engagement a secret until an October church service. You might be able to guess which families are expecting a wedding, however, if you see them painting their houses or planting a large quantity of celery, which will be used to decorate the wedding tables and make soup for the wedding meal.
Amish weddings are typically held on Tuesdays and Thursdays in November and December. However, for larger communities and those not driven by the agrarian calendar, weddings may be held in the Spring and into the Summer.
Why Tuesdays and Thursdays? The family needs a full day to prepare for the wedding, and a full day to clean up afterwards. Having a wedding on Saturday or Monday would mean setup or cleanup would fall on a Sunday, which is sacrilegious.
Amish brides typically make their own bridal dresses, and often the dresses of her bridesmaids (known as newehockers). Her dress is typically a beautiful shade of blue or purple, with blue being the more common color worn. After the wedding, this dress becomes a woman’s typical Sunday church attire. It is also the dress the women are buried in when they die.
The wedding ceremony starts around 8:30 in the morning and lasts 3-3.5 hours. After a sermon, the bishop takes the couple aside while the congregation sings songs. He gives the couple advice, private instruction, and his blessing. Afterward, the bride and groom give their vows at the front of the church.
After a final prayer, the wedding party and guests head back to the bride’s family home. Guest lists for Amish weddings are very large, typically ranging from 200-500 people, including relatives, friends, and coworkers. The bride and groom’s friends and family typically help with tasks such as caring for the guests’ horses, serving food, being ushers, and clearing and cleaning the dishes.
The guests stay for two meals: supper and dinner. Food can include a wide range of Pennsylvania Dutch recipes and likely include some of the following: roast or “Amish Casserole” (casserole of chicken and stuffing), mashed potatoes, creamed celery, coleslaw, applesauce, dinner rolls, pears, doughnuts, and pies. While there isn’t any dancing at an Amish wedding, they are filled with visiting, games, and connection among families.
After the Wedding
Unlike many weddings among non-Amish, the Amish couple will not conclude their wedding with a honeymoon trip. Instead, they will spend the next day helping to clean after the wedding. The next few months will be spent living with the bride’s parents until they are ready to start a home of their own.
You can see what it’s like to live in an Amish home yourself when you come visit The Amish Village farmhouse. This house is authentically Amish, and it will give you a taste of what growing up in the Amish community is like. You will even see blue dresses like those worn by Amish women on their wedding day. Schedule a tour today!