One of my daughters got married 7 months ago and my son is getting married in 5 weeks. As usual, the contrast in US culture verses the Amish culture has made me re-think everything. To know why I've contemplated, let me tell you how most Old Order Amish celebrate their weddings.
Amish couples are “published” or their engagement is announced in church. There’s no diamond engagement ring or wedding rings at all. Weddings are held on Tuesday and Thursday in early spring, before the planting season or in late fall, after the harvest. The bride will sew a new simple dress using the same pattern she uses to make all her dresses. She does have bridesmaids but they wear their plain clothes at the wedding. There’s a wedding feast, typically at the brides home or barn, made by Amish relatives, and the couple is set apart in a corner. This corner table is something special to them. My Amish friend, Noah, told me about his wedding feast with a twinkle in his eyes. I asked why they sat in the corner, and in typical Amish fashion, he looked stumped and said, “It’s the way we’ve always done it.” But it seems more like a rite of passage, something they’ve looked forward to their whole life. I think it’s charming.
I look at the Amish and see a common theme; it’s not all about the bride and her making ten-thousand decisions. No one is yelling at her saying “You deserve the best. You only get married once. You’re the princess of the day and you can have what you want.” This constant clamor can make the sweetest bride turn self-centered and perhaps turn into a bridezilla. The Amish bride has few decisions. She doesn’t deal with her gown, fancy bridesmaid’s dresses, flowers, photography, DJ, or musician. It may sound severe, but the Amish I know look forward to weddings for the fun and fellowship and what’s really going on…vows before God.
It seems like with both of my kids getting married they start out going nuts about all the decisions, then realize a month or so later it’s about the vows…usually after they’re burnt out and have asked if they can just elope. ;)
Today, the average cost of an American wedding is 20K. I told Amish friends about this and they either laughed at the ridiculousness of it or were plain aghast. They all agree it’s wasteful and foolish. "I can build a barn with that money!" one man said. From their influence, my husband and I give our kids $5.000.00 for their wedding. We give them professional pre-marriage counseling as their wedding gift, and Dave Ramsey books so they can be debt free. We had lots of pressure to do more as other family and friends have financed their kids weddings on a thirty year payment plan, but being “Almost Amish” has made us stick to what we thinks important, the marriage vows and celebrating with community, plain and simple.
Karen Anna Vogel