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are amish marriages arranged

Are Amish Marriages Arranged?

Do the Amish have arranged marriages? It’s a great question that people often get wrong.

There’s a lot of speculation surrounding Amish dating practices and marriage traditions.

We’re here to clear up some of the rumors and give a real insight into what really precipitates Amish weddings.

So, are Amish marriages arranged?

Despite the common presumption, no, the Amish don’t have arranged marriages; at least, not in the way one might expect. 

So, in that case, how do Amish marriages work?

If their marriages aren’t arranged, how do the Amish find potential spouses, and how much influence do their respective parents have?

In this article, we’ll discuss Amish dating practices, marriage culture, and what happens during Amish engagements and weddings.

What this article covers:

Amish Marriage Culture

do amish have arranged marriages

The Amish have many traditional values. They place great emphasis on family life, simple living, and maintaining their independent communities.

When it comes to marriage, it’s no surprise that they have clearly defined traditional gender roles and expectations.

The Amish take marriage and dating very seriously. Couples commit to each other for life.

Many often want to know how many wives can an Amish man have. Again we have a simple answer - one. The Amish are not polygamous so Amish men can only have one wife at a time.

do the amish have arranged marriages

Men are considered the head of the household. They typically work as farmers, laborers, and shop owners. They’re also skilled craftsmen who make traditional under bed storage baskets, harvest baskets, and wicker dog beds.

how to tell if amish woman is married

Once a couple is married, they’re expected to start a family and usually have many children and, because they don’t believe in birth control, the Amish population is one of the fastest-growing populations in the world.

It’s considered a women’s role to bear and raise the children.

Are Amish Marriages Arranged?

Since we've discovered that the answer to the question “are Amish marriages arranged?” is a firm no, how do the Amish find a potential partner?

Family life is of the utmost importance amongst Amish communities. On top of that, Amish divorce is strictly forbidden and is a shunnable offense.

That means it’s imperative to get marriage right.

To find out how it’s done, let's have a look at some of the Amish dating practices.

Amish Dating Rules

Amish boys begin dating around age 16 and girls around age 14-15 years. In general, the Amish age of marriage is typically between the ages of 20-22.

So, how do the Amish find dates?

Sunday singing is one of the best places to find a potential date. Because the Amish date with marriage in mind from the start, it’s where many young Amish meet their future husbands or wives.

During Sunday night singing, boy and girls from a few districts gather together in someone’s home or barn. They sit at a long table facing each other and sing energetic and lively hymns until around 10 pm.

After the singing, a variety of baked goods is served, usually in a wooden bread box, while the young people mingle for 1-2 hours. This gives them plenty of time to get to know the people in attendance.

do amish arranged marriages

At the end of the night, if a boy has his eye on a girl, he may offer her a ride home in his buggy. When they arrive at her house, they usually spend the night talking and getting to know each other.

What’s more, Amish couples date just like many other young people, with a few small differences. They might have dinner together or simply hang out and chat.

In conservative communities, the practice of bundling still takes place. However, today, most Amish communities have scrapped it.

As well as asking “are Amish marriages arranged”, many people want to know “can Amish date outsiders?” That answer’s a little less straightforward. 

Generally speaking, no. The Amish only marry within their communities. The Amish aren’t allowed to marry non-Amish people.

The more progressive communities allow marriage between couples from different yet similar communities. However, stricter, more conservative communities forbid marriage outside of their community.

An Amish courtship can be ended at any time by either party.

Amish Engagements

Engagements in the Amish communities are a quite stark difference from those in non-Amish (English) communities.

In most American communities, we’re used to big announcements and big celebrations for a couple’s engagement, but the Amish tend to surprise their families with the announcement during a Sunday church service.

That means, rather than tell their respective parents themselves, the bishop will read aloud a list of all the couples who have recently gotten engaged.

do amish arrange marriages

It can even be months before they decide to tell anyone!

So, if you were in any doubt about the question “are Amish marriages arranged”, here you have it. While it might be far from the mainstream, it’s also far from a forced arrangement. 

Amish Weddings

Amish weddings take place in 2 parts - the church service and the wedding ceremony. Only members of the church will attend the church service, but anyone can attend the wedding ceremony.

Between 200-600 guests will attend, making an Amish wedding quite the event.

A bride will make her own wedding dress as well as her bridesmaids' dresses. Blue and purple are the most common colors for a traditional Amish bridal dress, but gray and maroon have recently jumped up in popularity.

They follow the same style of plain dress that the Amish typically wear. A white apron is worn over the dress on the special day. After the wedding, the bride will wear her wedding dress to church on Sunday and will eventually be buried wearing the dress.

The groom will dress in his Sunday best. A pair of back pants, a crisp white shirt, and a black hat all come together to complete his look.

As devout Christians, Amish cement their commitment during a special church service.

An Amish wedding usually takes place in the winter months because there’s less farmwork to do during this period and more free time.

Weddings happen on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On these days, church bench wagons are available and are used to seat the guests. Plus, the families need time to set up and clean up which means other days aren’t an option as they will be in church.

An Amish wedding dinner includes chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and creamed celery. Because there are so many guests, they’ll eat in stages.

Amish Marriage Customs

You may be curious to know how to tell if an Amish woman is married. Although the Amish don’t have engagement or wedding rings, there are obvious tell-tale signs of marriage.

do the amish arranged marriages

Before marriage, a woman will typically wear a black head covering (also known as a prayer covering). Once she marries, she wears a white head covering instead.

What’s more, an unmarried man is clean-shaven and once he gets married, he grows his beard.

Rather than dancing carefree into the sunset and jetting off on their honeymoon, the young couple remains true to their values and stays to help with the wedding clean up.

For a few months, they live in the bride’s parents' home until they are ready to start their own home.


Hopefully, we’ve demonstrated that not only do the Amish not practice arranged marriages, but Amish couples are also in complete control of who they choose to spend their lives with. 

Amish young people have the freedom and opportunity to decide who they marry, with minimal pressure from their families and communities.

They can date as many people as they like before finding the right match. The key difference between young Amish and many other young Americans is that the Amish will always date with the intention of seeing the relationship through to marriage. 

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