There’s the Amish courtship… and the Amish wedding.
When an Amish young person decides to be baptized into the church in their late teens/early twenty’s, it is expected that they will marry shortly thereafter. Naturally, they are expected (and required by Ordnung – church rules) to marry an Amish spouse.
The Amish courtship is generally kept secret, somewhat even from the couple’s families. In fall, the young lady will inform her parents of the intent to marry. Her father and the local Bishop will then announce the upcoming union to their church – often only weeks prior to the event! The ceremony itself will usually take place at the bride’s home in November or December, after all the harvesting is completed.
200-400 guests will be invited to the typical Amish wedding. The ceremony itself will be held on a Tuesday or Thursday, so that clean up can be accomplished on Wednesday or Friday. The couple will be counseled by their Bishop in the hours leading up to the ceremony, which will consist of testimonies and a sermon – but no rings or other jewelry.
The bride’s dress will likely be a dark blue or purple, as may her attendants. The groom will be in a black suit and he and his attendants will wear bow ties (something not to be found in Amish culture outside of the wedding day).
Following the ceremony, there will be a feast of Biblical proportions. The size of the bride’s family’s home may even require eating in shifts! The wedding party will sit at their own table in a corner, and the bride will often seat the single guests over age 16 with another single guest of the opposite gender in an effort for them to get to know each other. (You want to be a friend of the bride at an Amish wedding if you’ve got your sights set on a special someone! ;-)
The Amish wedding night will usually be spent in the bride’s parent’s home, as the couple will need to assist in clean up the following day. They will then spend their first months of marriage – their honeymoon – visiting relatives. (This is when most gifts they receive will be given.) As a sign of marriage, the husband will grow a beard (without a mustache). In many Amish communities, the color and/or shape of the woman’s head covering will designate her marital status.
An Amish marriage is a life long commitment. Divorce is not an option. Family is the bedrock of Amish society. And family must always be preserved.