Amish Cook’s Mom: Weddings Mean Work, Food, & Blessings

Image: Jim Halverson

In this week’s Amish Cook column, Gloria Yoder’s mother Dorcas Raber fills in, as she does from time to time. She shares an account of a recent wedding in her community – that of her niece Rhoda. She shares what kinds of foods they serve, what goes into wedding prep, and so on. An excerpt:

Every one of their family pitched in to get ready for the wedding day. Many, many hours of preparation went in, from cleaning the house top to bottom to endless lists of outside work to building a shop where the reception would be held,to decid ing who will be servers or navahuckers (witnesses) etc.. etc.

Amish weddings spell WORK!

Next-door neighbors were asked to host the services. They had ample space on the top story of their barn.

Returning to the day before, my mom, two sisters and I joined the other helpers at Rhoda’s home place. In front of the newly built shop was a rented walk-in cooler and a cook trailer.

This cook trailer is amazing; it is loaded with appliances, everything you need to prepare food for a wedding, from kettles to pairing knives to measuring cups, and on and on. Four stoves are spaced conveniently inside, and there are enough windows to create a bright atmosphere. It’s on wheels, so it gets moved all over Holmes County from one wedding to the next.

The cook trailer sounds like what is called a “wedding wagon” in other places. These have become standard practice in some Amish communities to ease the preparation process for hundreds of guests.

Another excerpt:

Niece Rhoda looked lovely in her ivory-colored wedding dress and white prayer covering. The witness girls wore blue and the boys wore black suits with white shirts. We were both blessed and challenged by sermon tidbits we heard throughout the morning.

Over 400 guests were there to rejoice with Merle and Rhoda as they said their vows. There were rows and rows of servers and cooks. It made me aware anew of all the planning and fine details that go into an Amish wedding. Almost all Amish weddings have their guests sit at tables and serve them, and this takes a lot of organizing beforehand.

After the last song was sung, we all made our way to the reception area in the new shop. The tables were stunning wooden-board tables, with a white runner down each center. On the runner was greenery topped with real apple blossoms. The evening before, the bridal pair, Rhoda’s mom, three of Rhoda’s brothers, and three grandchildren went to the apple orchard and picked close to 200 apple blossom stems! It was worth all the effort that got put in. It added a unique original touch.

Gloria’s husband Daniel, who passed away last year, was remembered, along with others the community had lost:

After the meal, there was a short service of songs and then a devotional by my brother Marcus. Some of my family also sang “Stairway to Heaven” in memory of loved ones who have passed on, including Gloria’s Daniel. Beautiful. Touching. Very fitting.

And Dorcas shares her enthusiasm for the Amish wedding meal in this last bit, which I thought summed things up nicely:

I know there are hundreds, even thousands of restaurants spread across the United States, but nothing tops an Amish wedding meal for me!

Check out the whole column, which also includes a recipe for something called “Underground Chicken Breast Casserole.” Creative name, that one, though I’m not sure where it comes from.

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