What Is An Amish Wedding Wagon?

Amish wedding wagon. Photo by Karen Johnson-Weiner

How to prep food for 300+ wedding guests? The Amish, accustomed to frequent weddings with many attendees, have figured out a way to make the whole affair easier and more efficient. Enter the wedding wagon:

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.

That’s Lovina Eicher describing how it works in her latest column. Basically, a mobile kitchen-cooking-and-dining-supply unit. Makes a lot of sense. Here’s what one looks like inside (photos from the article):

And the exterior, which as the column caption notes, resembles an RV:

These are different from the portable “wedding houses” which you might recall hearing about being used in Lancaster County. Those are more about providing a temporary shelter for the service and a place to eat:

Photo by Jennifer Kopf, LNP/Lancaster Online

Amish households are used to accommodating around 150 people for their church services (often in a basement or shop building), but for larger crowds something like this comes in handy.

Neither is this a bench wagon, which is used by each church district to transport the benches, songbooks, and other items needed for church services:

big valley amish church wagon
Amish church wagon, Kishacoquillas Valley (Big Valley), PA

Back to the wedding wagon. Lovina gave this report during a previous wedding which was shared on the Lovina’s Amish Kitchen Facebook page several years ago:

Update from The Wedding Wagon: “The cooks in the wedding wagon are grateful for the cool breeze with 7 ovens going. They are chatting in German probably catching up about their families and community news. Today the bread is being made along with Peanut Butter pie and Dirt Pudding. Two women are working on cutting the chicken leg quarters into two pieces…”

Sounds like a cheery scene. Several photos went along with that including this one, of peanut butter pie in process. Don’t fall in:

Marcia Eichhorn of shipshewana.com describes wedding wagons being rented out a year in advance in the northern Indiana community. Kevin Williams notes that the wagons are relatively new innovation that are less likely to be found in more traditional places, and that “some Amish just feel the wedding wagons are a ‘lazy’ way to go about things.”

Amish weddings can happen at different times depending on the community. But we are in the traditional wedding season in places like Lancaster County, where the farmer’s schedule means post-harvest autumn is the prime wedding time.

So if you’re driving around Lancaster or other Amish community, keep an eye out for an RV-type vehicle, it might just be full of cooks, hard at work prepping for the big day.

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    9 Comments

    1. Been there - Done that

      My wife, Claudia and I have such close Amish friends that we were invited to the first one of their children’s weddings. It is truly an honor for English to be invited to the whole ceremony – not just the reception. It is a fairly long wedding ceremony – three hours sitting on hard benches. But it’s well worth it. We learned a lot from the experience. We felt that we had nine Amish grandchildren and now that the oldest boy (now a man with a beard) is married, his wife is a another granddaughter, making a total of 10 Amish grandchildren. We are all one big happy family! We are now looking forward to going to at least two more weddings within the next couple of years for our two oldest Amish granddaughters.

      I can’t explain the love between us and our Amish family; we all know that the love is there and we know how to show it.

      1. Ken really neat to hear you went to the full wedding. Must be a special bond with your Amish friends. Thanks for sharing that here.

        1. Jackaline Nicole Ann Carter

          Thank you I'm grateful for the Amish and would be grateful to join the community

          Thank you for sharing this God bless you

    2. Alex Knisely

      Wagon hired a year in advance, the couple published only a few weeks in advance...

      …whoever owns the wagon is sitting on a high pile of secrets!

      1. That’s a good point Alex. As the article I linked says year in advance, perhaps that’s an inflated estimate…or yes, the wedding wagon people need to be tight-lipped! 😀

    3. Donald Harris

      Input

      This is great. Probably set up better than most English ways

      1. Agreed Donald, seems like a rather Amish solution to a practical problem (I’m using “Amish” in this case as a synonym for “practical” 🙂 ).

    4. Al in Ky

      I wonder if some Amish have wedding wagons for preparing meals for guests at weddings because they do not have church buildings with large kitchens. I remember attending several weddings in the 1970’s in my home community where a large meal was served to all the guests attending the wedding. These weddings were all in church buildings which had large kitchens and the meal was prepared in the church kitchen.

      I wonder if some Amish also use wedding wagons at funerals for meal prepartion, since I have read that with many Amish funerals, a meal is served after the service to all attending the funeral service — and that can be several hundred people.

      I went to a “Breakfast Haystack” fundraiser at an Amish school near Middlebury, Indiana, a couple of years ago where there was a large crowd and the cooks prepared much of the food in an Amish wedding wagon that was parked next to the school building. I wonder if this is another way that Amish wedding wagons are used.

      1. Good point I hadn’t thought of Al. Many modern churches have these facilities available and/or they are associated with schools which have cafeteria facilities. The Amish wouldn’t have the same infrastructure.