Life in Lancaster County: Amish Weddings
The traditions embedded in Amish weddings are interesting and very different from what "English people" (which is what our friends in the Amish community refer to the rest of us as) expect of weddings. As a company founded and operating in Lancaster County, PA, we thought it would be fun to share some information about Amish weddings, since it is something that we experience throughout the year.
Amish weddings are most commonly held in November, but have more recently started at the end of October and sometimes continue into December. The timing is related to the harvest season, as farmers’ schedules usually open up after harvest in October.
Even more recently, as more and more Amish families transition from farming to small businesses, some weddings occur in early spring, such as March or April. All weddings are held on a Tuesday or Thursday to allow a day for set-up and a day for clean-up without interfering with Sunday church services.
Wedding events are hosted by the bride’s family on their property and can have anywhere from 200 to 500 people in attendance. Sometimes they are held in a large room in their home, a nice barn, or some other type of building or tent. Occasionally, a family will build a new structure just for the wedding.
The wedding is an all-day event, starting around 8AM and lasting until well after sunset. A church service starts the event and includes traditional hymns being sung by the congregation followed by a sermon. This lasts until around 11AM, which is when the wedding ceremony portion begins. The ceremony includes an exchanging of vows or answering a few questions. There is no exchanging of rings, “you may kiss the bride,” or any embellishment. Men in the church then speak about marriage and this wraps up the ceremony.
Everyone in attendance transitions from the ceremony to lunch, which is a feast of traditional PA Dutch cooking, most often including chicken, stuffing, vegetables, and an incredible amount of desserts, such as pies, cake, and fruit.
Throughout the afternoon, adults visit with each other, children and teenagers often play games outside, such as volleyball, and singing is usually part of these get togethers. Another more informal meal is held in the evening and people continue to visit late into the evening hours.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays during Amish wedding season, if you’re driving around Lancaster County, you can expect to see many more horse and buggies on the road. It’s not uncommon for families to have multiple weddings in one day due to the limited wedding seasons.
We are so thankful for the rich history of Lancaster County and the PA Dutch traditions that have been passed down through generations and remain strong today. We think the emphasis on community and being thankful for the simple things in life are such beautiful characteristics in the Amish community. If you ever have questions about Lancaster County or PA Dutch traditions, please feel free to reach out to us. We would love to share more about the area’s history and culture!