Amish Wedding Season
Weddings are happening right now in many Amish areas. Amish weddings are joyous events but also social obligations. With the interweaving web of family connections, and weddings often happening on the same day during wedding season, Amish families may have to juggle their schedules and make decisions on which to attend.
Further complicating things is being invited to weddings in other communities. I recently spoke with a Lancaster friend who has an invite to a wedding of a somewhat distant family member living a few counties away. He was leaning towards not going, and, tongue-in-cheek, hoped he would be “forgiven” for the “transgression”.
For others, a distant wedding may be an excuse to not only visit family but to take a cross-country trip. A few years ago other Lancaster friends attended a marriage ceremony in a sister settlement in Wisconsin, meaning a grueling van ride but also, by how they spoke of it, an experience to remember.
Traditionally the autumn months are the time for weddings, particularly in Lancaster County. In other places the wedding schedule is more flexible for various reasons, some of which might not be so apparent. On weddings in Holmes County, Ohio, Charles Hurst and David McConnell write that “An unintended consequence of the adoption of home freezers is that the traditional wedding months of November and December have, since the mid-1980s, given way to May, June, September, and October. Now that farming is on the wane and food can be kept cold year round, there is no need to coordinate weddings with the harvest” (see An Amish Paradox, p. 108).
Noah Coleman of Bill Coleman Photography writes on wedding customs of Amish in the Big Valley area of central Pennsylvania:
Amish courting is usually very discreet in the Amish community. In fact, weddings are often announced just 3 and 4 weeks ahead of time. Usually the entire community is invited to the bride’s or groom’s family farm. It’s not uncommon to see 300 people in attendance. Generally, Amish weddings occur in November when the harvest is completed and when the celery is finished growing. The wedding meal is a carefully planned event where food is served to groups in rotation to manage the sheer number of people. Celery at Amish weddings are as ubiquitous as flowers are in modern weddings. A mason jar of cut celery sticks sits on every table. Some say that you know when a family is preparing for a wedding by how much celery’s growing in the garden.
Interestingly celery is a part of weddings in some area, but not in others. Saloma Furlong, originally of the Geauga County, OH Amish, writes here about how she only learned of the custom after she left the Amish.
Noah also shares a few photos of Big Valley Amish weddings, along with some comments in italics.
This first one is called “November’s Wedding”. “There aren’t many “June Brides” amongst the Amish. Most Amish weddings take place in the Fall months, as they are too busy for such matters until after the harvest is in.”
Next, “January’s Wedding”. “A rare event, as weddings normally occur in November, the celery had to be store bought! This was a bitterly cold late afternoon wedding but the happiness on their faces warmed my heart!”
Finally, “Sarah’s Wedding”. “Sarah is one of seven sisters and her wedding was one of five in as many years. This family had their hands full for quite a stretch of time.”
Thanks to Noah for sharing a little on Amish weddings today. You can also view more of Bill Coleman’s Amish wedding photos. And feel free to add your Amish wedding thoughts, questions or experiences below.
Love weddings! Thanks for this article, and the great pictures.
In my younger years when I lived near Yoder, KS, I never wanted to drive “Yoder Road” on Tuesdays or Thursdays during the fall. Too many buggies made getting to the next town almost impossible! 🙂
Nice Margaret…I guess the road’s name is a warning for those in the know 🙂
Amish Wedding Season
Great Pictures of the wedding season!! Thanks for sharing. Where did the idea originate to use celery? What not another vegetable or fruit?
I always find Amish traditions and lifestyle so interesting!! I thoroughly enjoy this website. Thanks Erik
Here in Bavaria, where I live,celery is known to be an aphrodisiac. Since many of the forefathers of the American Amish today immigrated from Amish communities in Bavaria (München, Ingolstadt, Regensburg) between 1840 and 1880, they might have preserved the knowledge about this specialty down to present time. Celery salad is in southern Bavaria traditionally served as a side dish to roast goose, which is also an appropriate wedding dish.
Well, that would be an interesting explanation Georg, at least for how the tradition got started…I will refrain from making any quips on Amish family sizes since we are a PG blog 🙂
Sharon I am glad you enjoy it, thanks for sharing here. Some nice contributions today.
I have heard they also have creamed celery. Wonder if anybody has a recipe for that. Thanks
Amish Wedding Season
OOPS….forgot to re-read my post before I sent it!!! I meant to say, WHY not another vegetable or fruit. Sorry….
We’ve been lucky to be invited to the evening wedding meal of our Amish neighbor and friend when their daughters were married. An amazing experience for us English! The last wedding at their home, they served both the noon meal (after the ceremony) and the evening meal (the celebration continues all day) to 450 guests. And to top that off, they served fried chicken as part of the menu! I can’t imagine cooking that much chicken! It has been one of my fondest memories.
Note: Bill Coleman’s photos were taken in our valley. We were at the wedding meal of the yellow topped buggy group.
Claudia, If you're willing to share . . .
I’m revising a chapter I wrote on Amish weddings in various locations and affiliations, and if you–or anybody–would care to share about your wedding-related experiences, feel free to get in touch, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sounds like a day to remember Claudia. Fried is my least favorite type of chicken (and I am from the South, so go figure) but I’d try the Amish wedding version. Actually after a long Amish service I would probably eat it with gusto 🙂
From what I’ve read, celery has some sort of symbolic significance re: fertility, I think? Not sure where that comes from, though.
It sounds like a fun thing to be a part of ~ no wedding coordinators, no going into big debt, etc. Too bad they can’t have pictures, but I’m sure they’re plenty used to that. 🙂
The funny thing is that the Amish bride and groom will still look like they did on their wedding day for far longer than the Englischer bride and groom. My sister is an exception but she wore her hair and makeup exactly the same as she looks every day. Why do brides go to such extremes to change themselves for one day ?
Thanksgiving Wedding Day
My close Amish friend and neighbor will be getting married on Thanksgiving Day. I will be going over for the afternoon feast! My own family members are not real pleased that I have chosen to be with the Amish families on Thanksgiving, but we will have our traditional meal here at my home.
The wedding was “Published” 2 weeks ago, and they now are like bunch of ‘busy bees’ in preparation. They are expecting around 350 guests.I’m sure there will even be buggies parked in my yard. The big day will begin about 9 am, the ceremony at 12 noon, then lots of food & fellowship until late in the evening. Although these newlyweds have already bought a home just down the road from me, the tradition is that they spend their wedding night at the home of the bride’s family, so they can help clean up from the day before.
I would love to get some pictures, but in due respect, I will leave my camera at home!
Brenda enjoy it…what a nice way to spend Turkey Day.
Festive time of year!
Now that I subscribe to “The Connection” (Amish magazine), I’m discovering more & more about Amish weddings. For example, I’ve heard that there are now “Amish wedding chuck wagons” (MY words!) which families can loan—they’re basically food prep areas in a “trailer” where most of the cooking/prep can be done. I’ve read they can even provide dishes & cutlery, etc. I’d love to see the “innards” of such a vehicle, should anyone have photos. 🙂
As for the celery, it’s always puzzled me—but maybe Hans has the real answer (I’ll never eat celery again without thinking of his explanation!)
Great example Alice Mary. That wedding wagon you describe is a business that has gotten popular in some places…Amish entrepreneurialism meets a need, or want, for convenience. A neat solution for some communities.
I quite like the taste of celery. However I know some people abhor it. Never understood that, as it seems fairly bland, compared to other veggies. One of those “specific” foods I guess.
The Amish word for wedding approximates to ‘hochzich’, but in High German, it is ‘hochzeit’, which means ‘high time’. Any one who has ever been to a Amish wedding can relate that to the Amish, weddings are high times. The two I have been to were great fun and I loved going.
Belle Center Wedding
Mark was relating to me that this coming Thanksgiving Day will be an unusual Amish wedding. The bridegroom is 82 and the bride 84! How about that! I will be 90 on November 24th. I guess it’s never too late. The Amish bride and groom are a widower and a widow. It’s not going to be a little private wedding either. 500 guests invited I guess. I hope Mark will be able to go. I drove him down to an Urgent Care on Tuesday. He was diagnosed with pneumonia. As he said, “Dad, there is the expression that you have a frog in your throat. Well, this frog has grown into an alligator!” Remember Mark in your prayers. He’s been really sick.
Don, what a memorable wedding that will be! How wonderful (and telling) that 500 relatives/friends will attend!
I hope Mark is feeling better! I was hospitalized with pneumonia as a child, and penicillin helped me recover—but now I’m allergic to it!
Many people I work with have had the same “alligator” in their throat/chest, lately! I’ll certainly pray for Mark’s speedy recovery (but I’d ask the doctor if it would be wise to attend that wedding so soon).
And, an early Happy Birthday to YOU!
Don, will keep Mark in mind, give him best wishes. Sounds rough.
Don Curtis, first my thoughts go to Mark for a speedy recovery. Pneumonia has been running around my associates here in MO. 2nd, I’m tickled pink to hear your story of this wedding. What a delight. Keep us posted of highlights please.
If there is a particular recipe for creamed celery, would anyone please share? I do love celery when cooked and covered in sauce or in soups.
Erik, thanks for this post. This old spinster enjoys a good wedding tale or two.
To Carolyn B -
I was about to call myself a spinster too but apparently we still have time !
Traci, thanks and yes, it does look like spring chickens like us may still have plenty of time to catch a man. I like the hunting but I’ve never caught anything worth keeping yet.
@ Carolyn B. -
Thank you for the best laugh I have had all week.
I have 2 recipes for Creamed Celery from an Amish Cookbook I have called “Old Country Cooking, Amish Cooking”.
Creamed Celery Recipe #1
1 qt. finely cut celery 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Oops! Hit send too soon! I have 2 recipes for Creamed Celery from an Amish Cookbook I have called “Old Country Cooking, Amish Cooking”.
Creamed Celery Recipe #1
1 qt. finely cut celery
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. vinegar
Cook together until tender, not using more water than necessary. Add a sauce made with one T. flour and a little milk. Bring to boil, then stir in 2 T. salad dressing or mayo.
Creamed Celery Recipe #2
2 qt. celery
1 t. salt
1 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. vinegar
1/2 c. milk
2 1/2 T. brown sugar
2 T. flour
Butter (size of walnut)
Boil celery, salt, water, sugar and butter until soft, then add rest of ingredients. Bring to a boil, then serve.
Hope this helps!
Amish Wedding Season
Thanks for the recipes — I think I will have to try those – I have 2 Amish cook books, and I know Celery recipes MUST be in them…will have to take the time to find them. I do like celery, and usually add it to different recipes, but not as the main ingredient. Plus it is good, RAW, with pimiento cheese or cream cheese, too.
Home grown celery that was left in the garden till it is ripe (till it changes color) is much sweeter.
How about trying it with peanut butter? We like to fill the groove with peanut butter to eat the raw sticks.
Thanks for the recipes
Don, Its never to late to marry again. My grandmother was 81 when she married again. The guy even went to my dad to ask for his Mother’s hand in marriage! Those young chicks should have fun while they can. Anyone lucky to find love again as such an age is very blessed.
Please send us information on how the wedding even goes. I feel for your son. Hope he gets well soon.
I just needed to say, reading these comments really made me chuckle 🙂 thanks! And many prays for your son Don Curtis. Now I must start my morning chores, while all I would rather do is curl up with my iPad and keep reading AA. Have a great day everyone!
Question for mobile readers
Annmarie I just got my own chores done so I know what you mean. Question for you (or anyone who reads AA on a mobile device)–I am looking to optimize this site for mobile devices–how is your experience reading it?
I have only viewed it on a Kindle, which is a bigger screen than a smartphone, but smaller than an iPad. I checked using an online tool and it seems like it wouldn’t be the easiest to navigate on a tiny screen.
This is just getting too high tech for AA. ; )
You could be right Naomi 🙂
When we walked in to the reception or meal area at one Amish wedding, each table held a flower vase filled with upright, green celery stalks. Some leaves were still attached at the top of the long, individual ribs of celery. It looked like a pretty bouquet of celery! I don’t remember if we ate them or just looked at them.
At another Amish wedding our eyes were treated to home-grown, cut sunflowers in vases on the meal tables. Indeed, the sunflowers were Amish-grown!
Thanksgiving Day this year seems to be popular for weddings. We are also invited to an Amish wedding on Thanksgiving in Michigan.
Thanks, Don, for telling us about Mark. Get well wishes go out for him.
The third Amish weddings I’ve been invited to here in Maine will be the Thurs after Thanksgiving, with over 300 invited. Both the others also had about 300 guests each. I don’t recall celery at either, but will sure watch for it this time. This site sure teaches me a lot! I do know they will have creamed corn, because I helped get the corn off of 300 ears in August.
The services are indeed 3 hours. The part in German is translated for the English who are all grouped together in a corner so as to not disturb the others.
Most of the guests come by bus or van. The next nearest community is two and a half hours from Unity.
Your weddings in Maine
Joan, Several years ago at a wedding in Pearisburg, VA, we had the benefit of the simultaneous translation. The four (yes 4!)translators took turns during the three hour service–an amazing gift to us English visitors. My surprise was that we heard nothing about Tobias and Sara from the apocryphal book of Tobit, a common theme in most Amish weddings. “If it suits,” we’d be glad to hear anything you hear RE Tobias. Also do you know who this Maine group fellowships (deens) with. Three weddings! You are blessed with good Amish friends. Rich & Pauline Stevick email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
reply to Richard
You asked, “My surprise was that we heard nothing about Tobias and Sara from the apocryphal book of Tobit, a common theme in most Amish weddings.”
I have never heard of this apocryphal book, but will listen for it this time.
Only the first part of the service here is in German, maybe 45 min to one hour out of the three hour service.
The three related communities here in Maine are Old Order. I’m not sure I understand the rest of your question, but will do my best
Joan Sheldon & Tobit
Joan, the book of Tobit can be found in a Catholic edition of the Christian Bible within the Old Testament just to let you know where to look.
We live down the road from an Amish school. I was puzzled why the shades were still down and all was dark several days this month. A friend at church figured out it was happening on Tuesdays and Thursdays – there are lots of Amish weddings going on around here!
I mostly read it from my iPad however, I have used a blackberry. Like you said the screen is small, so you need to go up and down to see all the different links in AA. It wasn’t bad or difficult just different than viewing from my iPad. Hope that helped.
Thanks Annmarie. I discovered recently that a significant % of visitors here view the site via a mobile device of some sort. More than I thought was the case, anyway. I appreciate the feedback.
Amish Wedding Season
I was wondering,since the Amish dress so plain,wouldn’t it be considered honoring their traditions for an Englisher to dress less “dressy”, at an Amish wedding? Such as wearing jeans and a tshirt,clean shirt?
I think plain formal dress would be most appropriate Patricia…I don’t think you’ll hear any complaints, especially if you wear some sort of church clothing. I get that it is “plain” in some sense but in jeans and a T-shirt you’d probably get a lot more attention than wearing your Sunday best.
Jeans and a t-shirt ?
It is still a wedding and a church service and a meal and you are a guest in someone else’s home. Would you wear this to anyone else’s wedding ? It isn’t a barn raising !
I asked Mark what would be appropriate to wear to an Amish wedding. He reminded me that an Amish wedding is actually a full three hour church service with marriage as a theme. The Amish men, women, and children dress as they would for church. In Mark’s community he says that church dress ordnung for men is a white, long sleeve button shirt with no pocket; black or charcoal gray broadfall trousers with suspenders and vest with hook and eye closure. A mutza (Amish suitcoat) with hook and eye closure is optional. Mark says the mutzas are kind of seasonal except for the ministry. Ministers wear a mutza for service year round. The mutzas have no lapels or folded collar. Black socks and black dress shoes that tie are worn. In Mark’s community it is in the ordnung that black felt hats be worn for Sunday or black straw hats may be worn in the summer.
Women wear the suit dress. I don’t exactly know what this all entails. Mark was trying to explain but I didn’t understand it all. Something about a cape dress with a full apron. I don’t know where the cape is. The women are to wear a bonnet and shawl if weather is cool but a bonnet year round. Black tie shoes and non-see through stockings for the women. Children dress about the same except Mark said it is more acceptable for the little boys to wear stocking caps in cold weather. Most of the school age boys until they are church members wear what they call crushable hats to church. If you don’t understand everything don’t ask me. I just copy down what Mark tells me.
I forgot. I asked Mark about wearing jeans and a tee-shirt. Mark said that Amish people would quietly roll their eyes at each other and mutter under their breath “English leut, vas evah.” No, it would not be appropriate. Mark said Amish people don’t expect English people to dress Amish. But it is appreciated when you dress respectfully. Perhaps a white shirt and black trousers for the man. A modest blouse and full skirt for the lady. Nothing tight or revealing. That is really offensive to the Amish. They don’t like it. Also, an Amish wedding is not the time to show off your jewelry collection. Nobody would say anything but it isn’t admired or appreciated.
As Mark said through Don, do not be revealing! Your flesh on your chest, underarms, belly or legs should not be uncovered. Indeed, whenever you visit the Amish, they would appreciate you being fully covered, male or female. No jewelry or perfume is also appreciated. They do not expect you to wear Amish clothes, but do not be revealing or flamboyant either. Please never show cleavage, or thighs, nor very formfitting clothes. Jeans are, by nature, formfitting. Subdued colors are better than bright although white is okay. It is more important for clothes to be fully covering and loose fitting than properly colored. Again, all visits will go easier if you dress that way, but in church, it is very important, as to the Amish, this is God’s house, for the time being.
Lance, I figure you might know better than Don. What’s “English leut vas evah?”
Additionally, what Don said cannot be overstated: “…it isn’t admired or appreciated.” I can’t tell you how many Englishers I’ve met in Amish communities who are painted, wearing flashy, ridiculous clothing, and showing off gaudy jewelry saying things like, “It just amazes me that you can live this way, etc.” These people behave as if they believe that the Amish admire them. I assure you, the vast majority pity them. It’s terribly embarrassing to me.
English leut vas evah = English people, what ever!
Before I forget, I wanted to tell you I access Amish America through my iPhone, and your site – while a bit smaller than I’m sure it would appear on a computer – looks great! If something is too small, it’s quite easy to make it bigger for a moment :).
I also wonder if there is peanut butter to dip celery sticks into? Not so healthy, but a good combination!
Most Amish brides I’ve known or even read about tend to dress in hues of blue for their wedding dress. I wonder if this still remains the same in districts or areas where weddings are held during other times of the year?
And I do love what most Amish brides wear to their weddings.
Thank you Ava, that is helpful to know. Glad you can access it in the present form. I am semi up to speed on some tech things, and way behind in others 🙂
I am not sure on how much dresses might vary in different areas. A good question.
I always wear a plain dark blue long, full skirt and loose long sleeve blue top to all Amish church services including weddings at all times of the year . It does get a bit much in summer.
I agree with the above comments, that no form fitting clothes are ever appropriate, and no jewelry. The Amish brides here make a new dress for their wedding, but it is exactly the same pattern as all their other dresses. Most of the ladies here wear blue, grey, tan, brown or dark green colors. The girls over age ten or eleven and all ladies wear a cape and apron over their dress for modesty. The men’s dress is as described above by Don and others.
appropriate dress, part 2
I cannot believe I forgot one of the most important parts of dress, at least in my opinion, the head covering. I always keep my head covered when I am in the Amish community, whether at their church or just visiting with them, or even driving for them. I also cover my head to go to my own church. The scripture that applies is 1 Corinthians 11:3-10. My friend Elizabeth made one for every day wear, and a special one for church services. This community does not require women visitors to cover their heads, but appreciates it when they do.
Have attended Amish Weddings. Beautiful bride & groom table. Beautiful cake. Had both dinner and evening meal. Fried chicken and noodles. Love their noodles.
I have also been to the Big Valley. Loved that place. At that time no fast foods and only one restaurant. Would love to go back and see what 10 years has brought. I know the restaurant has burned down.