What are Amish weddings like in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania?
Amish weddings in Lancaster County are occasions of great joy for a young couple as well as for the entire community. The weddings are also taken very seriously. In the Amish lifestyle, marriage is an extremely sacred institution since the family is the very foundation of Amish society. Couples marry for life and divorce, separation, and remarriage are unthinkable.
In Old Order Amish society, marriages are not prearranged by the parents or by church groups. However, the church is a major influence since most young couples meet during church events.
A big part of the social life of
in Lancaster County is the Sunday evening singings. These events usually occur in barns and are opportunities for the young to socialize and get to know each other. When friendships are made, the couple agree to meet in a week or so at other community events.
Outwardly, Amish couples keep their courtship a secret. However, word does spread throughout the community about the relationship.
At some point between several weeks to a couple days before an Amish wedding, the relationship is "published." This marks the point where the relationship is recognized and officially made public. In Lancaster County, the "publishing" is made by the deacon of the community.
Amish Wedding Ceremonies
The actual wedding ceremony and reception is usually held in the home of the bride. Virtually the whole community is invited and attendance can be as high as 400 guests. So, quite a feast is prepared.
Since the Lancaster County Amish reside in a farming community, the social life revolves around the harvest seasons. As a result, Amish weddings usually takes place in November because that is the month where work in the fields is at its lowest. Furthermore, traditionally the wedding take place on either Tuesdays or Thursdays.
Weddings usually begin at 8:30 in the morning and last about four hours. The ceremony consists of a sermon based upon the Old and New Testament as well as upon the Apocrypha; wedding hymns from the Ausbund; simple vows from the bride and groom; testimonies by church leaders; and, by wedding prayers.
At no time do the newlyweds exchanges rings or kisses.
After the wedding ceremony, a reception is held where the newlyweds and guests enjoy a large home-cooked meal. The bride and groom sit at a corner or Eck table and are the first to be served. Since the room where the meal is served is not usually large enough to accommodate all the guests, the room will be filled two or three times until all the guests are fed. After the meal, there is lots of singing throughout the evening.
Both the wedding ceremony and reception is organized by the community. There are neither caterers or wedding consultants neither florists nor photographers.
The Amish newlyweds do not go on a honeymoon. Instead, they spend their weekends throughout the winter visiting family and community homes where they receive gifts.
Like the Amish, Old Order Mennonites hold their weddings in the home of the bride. However, more modern Mennonites hold their services in their church.
The weddings tend to be simple. The bride wears a plain white dress but does not wear a ring. A few flowers may be carried by the bride along with her Bible. There is also a small quartet present to sing wedding music as well.
Among the less conservative Mennonites and other religious groups of Lancaster County, gowns are sometimes worn by the women and tuxedos by the men. The bride and groom might also recite their own written wedding vows during the ceremony.
Moreover, among the less conservative of the groups, there might be a more lavish wedding reception in which there are more flowers and decorations, and in which music plays a large part of the celebration.
To learn more about the Amish of Lancaster County:
Back to an Introduction to the Amish People of Lancaster County
Return to the Welcome to the Lancaster County Home Page from