How To Tell if a Mennonite or Amish Woman Is Married


It’s a common misconception to think that Mennonite and Amish people all follow the same practices, but these groups do follow some of the same guidelines when it comes to how women display their marital status. So, how can people tell if a Mennonite or Amish woman is married?

You can tell that a Mennonite woman is married if she is wearing a white bonnet. Both Amish and Mennonite women wear bonnets, whether they’re praying or out in public.

What does the color of a Mennonite or Amish bonnet signify? Do Mennonite and Amish women wear wedding rings? What are Amish weddings like? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Also see What Age Do Amish Women Get Pregnant? to learn more.

Mennonite bonnet
What do Amish bonnets reveal about women? See below

What Do Mennonite and Amish Bonnets Signify?

Amish women wear bonnets because they have to cover their heads in public. These bonnets are sometimes mistakenly referred to as Kapp or prayer coverings, but they’re not the same. Instead, women wear bonnets over their prayer coverings.

The color of an Amish woman’s bonnet signifies her marital status. If she’s wearing a white bonnet, she is married. A black bonnet means that she is single.

Women wear bonnets to show honor and commitment in marriage, an institution that Amish people take very seriously.

Things To Consider

Assuming that a Mennonite woman is married by checking the color of her bonnet can become problematic because married women in many communities sometimes wear a black bonnet over their white bonnets when in public places such as the church.

There are also general exceptions to the bonnet-wearing rule in Amish communities. For example, some Amish women only wear their black head coverings when they attend church during the cold months to keep their heads warm [1].

There are different orthodoxy levels and regional differences in Amish orders, which affect how they wear the prayer cap and bonnet. Amish people in different regions in the United States will follow different rules regarding head coverings [2].

Also see Do Amish Women Shave? to learn more.

Amish clothing
Do Amish women wear wedding rings? See below

Do Mennonite and Amish Women Wear Wedding Rings?

Amish women don’t wear jewelry. This restriction is because their beliefs prohibit them from wearing such accessories. Amish clothing resembles the items worn by 17th-century European peasants, and it’s meant to be practical: it represents their traditional beliefs and how they interpret biblical rules and restrictions. [3]

Amish people don’t wear wedding rings because, in the Amish faith, jewelry is viewed as drawing attention to the body and causing pride [4]. Therefore, Amish women wear white bonnets instead of wedding rings to signify that they are married.

Things To Consider

The rules mentioned above vary a bit when it comes to Mennonite women. Not all Mennonite women avoid wearing jewelry or colorful clothing. Although wearing plain clothes was the traditional rule that Mennonites followed in the past, today, only the highly conservative Mennonites still follow such rules closely.

Amish women traditionally won’t wear wedding rings, but some modern Mennonite women will wear them as long as they don’t contain modern-day decorative features, such as precious metals.

This is because the focus on Mennonite lifestyles is trying to live practically instead of choosing adornment in their jewelry or clothing. Therefore, the wearing of jewelry will vary from one Mennonite group to another.

Generally, most Mennonites will dress like anyone else on the street, which is why it can be tricky to know if they’re Mennonite right away. [5]

Also see Do Amish and Mennonite Intermarry? to learn more.

Mennonite woman farmer
Do Amish couples have honeymoons? See below

What Are Amish Weddings Like?

Amish weddings vary significantly from the non-Amish weddings we’re accustomed to enjoying, which can be lavish affairs. In addition, Amish weddings incorporate their faith into the ceremony in a significant way, as they are only held on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

This is because it gives the families of the couple getting married time to prepare for the wedding and clean up after the event so that their Sunday, a sacred day, isn’t used for labor. [6]

Weddings also occur after the fall harvest in November so they can avoid the cold weather of winter.

Amish weddings include a church service and a wedding reception at the bride’s family home. The celebration involves eating food and spending time together, but there’s no dancing at the wedding.

Bride And Groom Attire

Amish brides wear bridal dresses that they make themselves, and the fabric is usually in blue or purple. However, in some communities, Amish brides wear black dresses.

After the wedding, a bride can wear her wedding dress again to the Sunday church service. Interestingly, this is also the dress a woman will be buried in when she dies.

The groom will wear a black suit, a tie, and a black hat.

What a Typical Wedding Day Is Like

Amish weddings usually start early in the morning and tend to last around three hours. Before the wedding sermon, the bishop will meet with the bride and groom privately, giving them instruction, blessing, and advice.

During the wedding sermon, the bishop will deliver a sermon, the congregation will sing hymns, and the bride and groom will say vows to each other.

After the church service, there will be a wedding reception at the bride’s family home, where the couple’s relatives, friends, and acquaintances will gather to celebrate.

The celebration takes the form of eating two meals: supper and dinner. Some common meals that will be enjoyed at an Amish wedding reception include:

  • Amish Casserole (a casserole of chicken and stuffing) 
  • Pies
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Creamed celery
  • Sweet treats, including donuts and cookies 

Later that day, once all the wedding guests have left the bride’s family home, the newlyweds will spend their first night with her family.

The newlyweds will not go on a honeymoon. Instead, they will help everyone clean up after the wedding and spend a few months with the bride’s parents until they move into their own home.

Also see Why Do Mennonites Say Once? to learn more.

Conclusion

The color of the bonnet reveals a Mennonite and Amish woman’s marital status. If it’s white, she’s married.

References:
[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source
[4] Source
[5] Source
[6] Source

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.

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