Marriage in the Amish community is often seen as a passage into adulthood, where members must be baptized in the church.
Members of the community are allowed to choose their partners within the community and have a long courtship period before marriage.
Amish weddings are mostly held in November and December as there is little to be done on the farms.
An Amish marriage is supposed to last for a lifetime, as divorce is taboo in the community. Death happens everywhere, and the Amish community is not immune to this.
One might be curious to know how older people date or marry after their spouse passes on. Also, what about the younger spouses who lose their significant other through early death or even an accident?
In the Amish community, widows are allowed to remarry and are not restricted from remarrying by their community restrictions. Within the Amish community, it is common to see people of advanced age dating after the death of their spouses.
This remarrying is commonly referred to as companion marriage. It happens when two older people get married, for instance, if an older widower weds an older widow or another older unmarried woman.
Within Amish communities, it is common to find both unmarried men and women, but unmarried women are more.
With remarrying, there is another scenario referred to as family formation, where an older widower marries a younger woman who is still within her childbearing years and makes a family.
How do Widows Date and Remarry?
The romance in a second Amish marriage is kept secret to show respect for the deceased spouse. Courtship is also a highly private affair and is sometimes done over the mail.
The pair may not even see each other while they are courting but send mails and letters back and forth explaining their intent to remarry.
This dating in the Amish community is commonly referred to as "mail dating." After mail dating, an intimate and secretive engagement follows.
A newly engaged pair will often wait for a few months before publicly breaking the news to their families and the church at large. After this announcement, they will get published in the Amish Dairy for a second marriage.
Amish bride's wedding dress
The Amish bride's wedding dress is always brand new. The bride typically creates her own attire and those of her maids, who are known as newehockers or side sitters in the Amish community.
These wedding dresses have a simple shape and are knee-length. There is neither lace nor embellishment, and a train is not present on these dresses.
The vast majority of brides who are not Amish only wear their wedding dress once, whereas an Amish bride's practical dress will continue to be useful to her after her wedding day has passed.
After she gets married, the dress she wears to her wedding will become the outfit she wears to church on Sundays.
When she passes away, she will be buried in the same gown that she wore on her wedding day. The bride and her attendants wear capes and aprons in addition to their regular attire on the wedding day.
In place of a veil, the bride will distinguish herself by donning a black prayer covering in place of her customary white cap. In addition to this, the bride is expected to wear all-black high-heeled shoes. People at the wedding party do not carry flowers as they are seen as worldly.
The groom and his ushers are dressed formally in dark suits for the occasion. Instead of buttons, the coats and vests use hook-and-eye fasteners. Their shirts are white, while their footwear and stockings are both black.
Typically, Amish men do not wear neckties, but they will don bow ties for the wedding. In addition to those, the groom flaunts a pair of black high-top shoes and a black hat with a brim of 3.5 inches.
Marriages are regulated differently depending on whether they are between two Amish people or between an Amish person and a non-Amish person.
People in the Amish community must make the decision to marry a non-Amish partner prior to their baptism into the faith. The non-Amish individual will have to think about becoming a member of the Amish church if they wish to undergo baptism.
During the months of November and December, a majority of Amish weddings take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On the other hand, weddings are not limited to the spring and can take place all the way into the summer in bigger communities and those not bound by the agrarian calendar.
The family will need a whole day to prepare for the wedding and another day to clean up after the event. A wedding on a Saturday or Monday would be unfair because either the setup or cleanup would have to happen on a Sunday, which would be disrespectful to the Christian holy day.
The ceremony begins at 8:30 in the morning and lasts for three to three and a half hours. The Bishop will take the couple aside for a private discussion as the congregation sings hymns after the service.
Aside from giving them his blessing, he also offers them advice and personalized instruction. When they are ready, the bride and groom will walk to the front of the church to say their vows to each other.
After the last prayer, the newlyweds and their guests will head back to the bride's family's home to celebrate the wedding's conclusion.
How does the Amish Community Care for Widows who Choose not to Remarry?
Due to the higher mortality rate of men and the higher remarriage rate of women, the Amish society has a disproportionate number of women without husbands.
Widows who choose not to remarry often get help financially from their families and churches and even get jobs outside the home. In a scenario where an Amish husband dies and leaves behind a young family, the young family becomes the whole community's responsibility.
Amish couples tend to have a lot of children, and taking care of these children as a widow can be challenging due to the belief that they should live as a community; everybody in the community pitches in to help her.
This financial support continues until her sons are old enough to support her financially. Teams of men can also join forces to go to the widow's home to plow her fields, winterize her barn and home and get her winter's supply of wood and coal to heat her home and cook with.
Women of the society also join forces to go to her home and help her with cooking and baking to help feed the men who are taking care of the widow's farm. The Amish believe in togetherness and the need to take care of each other for a better church and community.
Do Amish Divorce?
Divorce in the Amish community is extremely rare and often unheard of. An Amish baptism occurs between the ages of 18 and 22.
If a community member breaks this, they are breaking the promises they made at that ceremony. Following their baptism and an 18-week training period, they are permitted to get married and should not be divorced.
When an Amish couple marries, they are supposed to stick together until death separates them. The dating process is usually taken very seriously among the Amish community due to this fact.
A person can be excommunicated for asking for a divorce or for breaking any of the vows by acting contrary to the church's norms or the authority of its leaders and then refusing to confess the error.
The church encourages its followers to avoid social contact with shunned members as a way of reminding the person of their disobedience and hopefully bringing them back into the community.
The practice varies among the various Amish towns and sects, and it is not a universal rejection of human contact.
If a person asks for a divorce and is excommunicated from the church and the community, they leave and start a new life elsewhere. Their previous Amish spouse is not allowed to remarry until the previous partner dies.
Does Separation Exist in the Amish Community?
There are a lot of marital problems in the Amish community, but no one would dare say that they will divorce their partner.
Issues in marriage are seen as something to work through because divorce is forbidden. Couples may separate until they can solve their issues amicably; even with this allowance, separation is also very rare.
There is another scenario where if a couple separates and cannot solve their issues, they are not allowed to remarry until their previous partner dies. The reason for this is that marriage is for a lifetime to the Amish, and whatever God puts together, no man should separate.
To conclude, with death being an inevitable part of human nature, couples can lose their partners. With a loss of a partner, it becomes hard to raise children alone, and loneliness can take a toll on someone.
The Amish community realizes this and allows widows and widowers to remarry. There are two types of remarriages, namely companion marriage and family formation marriage.
It is not uncommon to find an Amish family with several kids resulting from different marriages. The community also supports widows by assisting with working in the fields and cooking, as it shows the oneness of the community.