Weddings remain a special, time-honored tradition in many communities. And while an Amish one may look very different from our idea of a typical wedding, there are still some familiar traditions — such as sharing food together to celebrate the new couple. An Amish wedding is a time for the community to come together, share special food, and enjoy festivities afterward.
Traditional Amish Wedding Foods
In Amish culture, homestyle cooking and Amish baking techniques are a way of life that’s shared from generation to generation. But on a wedding day, they pull out all the special foods to mark the occasion. And once the wedding ceremony ends, it’s full speed ahead for all the helpers making and serving the meal.
A typical Pennsylvania Dutch wedding will actually serve two meals throughout the course of the wedding day, feeding up to 200 people for each one. It’s a time of feasting for all, and while the menu may vary slightly, you can usually expect to see:
- Chicken and stuffing
- Homemade noodles
- Mashed potatoes & gravy
- Creamed celery
- Pepper slaw (A PA Dutch twist on coleslaw)
- Hot rolls
- Special pies, sugar cookies, and donuts
Preparing this food can be quite a lot of work, especially since the Amish do not use electricity. Plus, since there are so many guests, food is often served in shifts. People sit down, enjoy their food, and leave the table. Then the helpers clean the table, wash dishes, and set it up for the next wave of guests. All said and done, most Amish marriage celebrations (which start at 8:30 a.m.) can last until around 10:30 p.m., wrapping up in the dark hours of the night.
Amish Wedding Dinner Customs
So what exactly happens while the food is being served? Similar to typical American wedding traditions, the bride and groom are on display during the meal, supported by their bridal party.
Once the 3-hour marriage ceremony concludes, the men in attendance rush to set up tables. The tables are placed in a U-shape, but a special one known as the “eck” corner table is arranged for the newly married couple to sit and eat at. The wedding party will sit at the tables placed adjacent to this corner table.
After the first meal ends, the guests gather around to sing hymns, usually in the Pennsylvania Dutch language, which is a regionalized version of German. In more modernized circles, the new couple will possibly even open their gifts as the guests watch.
Afterward, there will be a time where single boys will have a chance to pick an eligible single girl as a partner for the rest of the evening’s festivities. The two will sit next to each other during the second dinner. In some communities, the bride and groom also have the authority to pick these partners themselves and have their fun doing some matchmaking.
Around five, the second meal will begin. This time the parents of the newlyweds are served first, along with older guests. The food is a little different, but guests will likely eat some type of stewed chicken, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, cold cuts, and more sweet Amish desserts, like fresh fruit pies or sugar cookies. Towards the end of the evening, everyone will continue socializing and playing games until it’s time to head home back to the farm.
Want to experience some authentic Amish cooking for yourself and learn more about these unique traditions? Join us for our annual Amish Wedding Dinner event where you can enjoy live entertainment, homestyle food, and more! Can’t make it to the event but still want to sample local PA Dutch delicacies? Come visit us at your local amish farmer’s market, The Markets at Shrewsbury, and see what our vendors are serving up!