Amish Cook: Wedding Prep an Excuse to Remodel

In her latest Amish Cook column, Gloria Yoder describes preparations for an upcoming wedding at her home. The bride-to-be is a friend of Gloria’s of the same age, so this is a bit atypical for an Amish wedding as someone getting married at a later age (I believe Gloria is in her 30s). Gloria describes preparations which go beyond setting up temporary accommodations and tidying up. In this case a wedding makes the perfect occasion to freshen up the home and even do some minor remodeling. Here’s an excerpt from the column:

Amish weddings are usually hosted in a shop or large tent. Using it as a wedding venue was practical because our woodworking shop was large enough to host several hundred people.

My friend Carolyn, who is my age, is getting married to Matthew Wengerd, and we are delighted to have the privilege of hosting their wedding at our house. The countdown is ticking away fast; it’s only two days off!

The warehouse area now occupies benches to seat 300 to 400 people from many different states. The work area is now completely emptied of all tools, equipment, and furniture dollies and carts and is now squeaky clean, with long rows of folding tables set up for the reception.

The front section of the shop where we keep our gardening tools, and the children have their trikes, little wagon, bats, and such, is also cleaned from top to bottom and has tables for food preparations to feed the guests.

A rented “kitchen on wheels” has been secured and parked right outside the garage door, where the cooks will be doing the actual cooking and baking the next two days and the day of the wedding.

Daniel has done a fantastic job helping me with things around the house. You know how little fix-it jobs tend to pile up, like a hinge that needs to be tightened, a water leak that needs attention, the list goes on.

An occasion such as a wedding is the perfect motivation to get things as such done. Bless Daniel’s heart. He’s patiently chopped many items off his list and done more besides. Imagine how delighted I was when he told me he’d be buying a new kitchen floor!

The old light blue floor, which faithfully served us since I was a girl, revealed all tell-tail crumbs and dirt and was chipping away. It took sweeping three times a day with a family our size and washing it up twice a week to have it looking presentable.

Now, as Daniel and I picked out the new flooring, I felt like an excited little girl. We finally picked out a floating vinyl floor with a wooden look, and it should last for years and does not get damaged when getting wet by four-year-old dishwashers.

The kitchen hadn’t been painted for several years and was also showing wear and tear of family life, so we painted it when the trim around the doorways was taken off to redo the floor, plus we didn’t need to worry about getting some splatters on the old floor.

“Wedding season” is less of a season in certain communities than in others. As we recently discussed the Amish in Lancaster County generally still hold to an autumn wedding season centered around the month of November (though weddings do take place in other months). In other communities, it’s less uncommon to hold weddings at different times of year, as in Gloria’s case her with an early spring wedding.

Photo by Karen Johnson-Weiner

One other note – the kitchen on wheels Gloria references has become an increasingly popular way to handle wedding food prep in some communities. It’s also known as a “wedding wagon” and Lovina Eicher described it in her Amish Kitchen column several years ago:

For those who don’t know what a wedding wagon is, it is like an RV with a ramp added on, with six or seven propane gas stoves and ovens in it. There are also several sinks with hot and cold running water. Dishes, cookware and everything you need for the food part of an Amish wedding come with the rental package.

There also are tables and a refrigeration unit. It makes it so much easier now than how it was when Joe and I were married in 1993. We had to gather extra kerosene stoves from neighbors and families and set them all up in our wash house/buggy shed building. Mom had to get out all her dishes, glasses, cookware and borrow from others if she didn’t have enough of something.

Then after the wedding, all of this had to be delivered back to everyone. Now, afterward, we can just have people help pack up all the dishes, tables, etc. into the wedding wagon. Usually the church’s benches (which come in a separate wagon) are used for seating guests for the service.

You can read more on the wedding wagon and Amish wedding prep here.

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