But in Amish communities, the food served at nuptials mirrors the food served at weddings weeks, months and decades before: chicken and filling topped with creamed celery, noodles cooked in browned butter and cheese, Harvard beets, mashed potatoes, meatloaf, coleslaw, and cakes and cookies for dessert, according to Linda Esch.
And the bride's family and friends prepare all of it the day before.
To give the public a taste of Amish wedding cuisine, Esch serves a dinner three times a year at her restaurant, Linda's Country Kitchen at the Markets at Shrewsbury.
"I know that people are fascinated with things that we do," she said.
Esch, 30, of Lancaster sets up several tin pans of food under heat lamps. Usually, the Amish serve the meal family-style at a table large enough to seat 60. Because 300 to 400 people attend, guests eat in shifts.
She said many Amish people look forward to the meal served for lunch on the big day.
"That's just something that's a hit with the Amish," Esch said. "I thought that I could make it a hit with the public."
Marsha Poff, 57, of Springfield Township has attended the dinner at the Markets for the past three years. She likes the variety of the home-cooked food.
"And my husband's going to have a meal later," she said, gesturing toward a takeout box.
Judy Whiteside, 59, of Lancaster helps her Amish
Whiteside said she enjoys the "roast" -- or shredded chicken mixed with filling.
"It's nice and moist, and you can eat lots of it," she said.
Stephen Scott, author of "The Amish Wedding and Other Special Occasions of the Old Order Communities," said it's difficult to date the culinary tradition.
Nancy Esch, 71, of Lancaster said her mother lived to be 98 years old and that she recalled the food being served at every wedding she attended.
"It's just our way of doing it," Nancy Esch said.
Versus the mainstream
In early January, Katie Ann Fisher, 21, of Ronks got engaged to Ivan Stoltzfus, 22.
They met at a youth group when they were 16, and he was her regular driver for a few years. Young Amish women ask a young man to drive them to Sunday singing or supper with friends.
Fisher said they didn't have crushes on each other at first, but then he asked her for a date.
"Something just clicked," she said.
Much like many other Amish customs, weddings are simple, but carry a life-long commitment. Divorce is not allowed.
Fisher said she was a little overwhelmed when she said yes to Stoltzfus because of the significance Amish weddings hold.
"It's a serious step for us," she said. "You know you're marrying him for life."
Scott said that Amish weddings are radically different than non-Amish nuptials.
"In mainstream weddings, there's a lot of show, decoration, elaborate wedding dresses," he said.
The Amish hold their weddings in late October, November and December before severe winter weather hits because it's the least busy time after the harvest.
Brides make their own dresses in either navy, purple or blue, cut in the same style of dresses worn to church. Their attendants -- not bridesmaids -- wear the same color. They all don white capes and aprons.
The groom and his "side sitters" wear black suits with white shirts, coats, vests and hats with a 31/2-inch brim. There are no flowers, procession or rings. Traditional German hymns are sung.
After dinner, they might sing more, socialize and play games. The youth might play volleyball.
They serve an evening meal, possibly including macaroni and cheese, or soup and sandwiches.
Linda Esch said that she's never been to a non-Amish wedding, but that her co-worker has and said she came home with a headache.
"I'd probably want to go just to see what it's like," Esch said.
Here are the staples of
an Amish wedding menu for about 350 to 400 guests:
--- 35 chickens
--- 10 gallons of bread cubes for filling
--- Three, 16-quart kettles of creamed celery
--- Four, 3-gallon buckets of mashed potatoes
--- A couple of tubs of cole slaw
-- Linda Esch, owner of Linda's Country Kitchen
If you go
What: Amish wedding dinner
When: 3 to 6 p.m. March 25
Where: Linda's Country Kitchen, Markets at Shrewsbury, 12025 Susquehanna Trail South in Shrewsbury Township
Cost: adults, $10.95; children ages 6 to 12, $6 ; children 5 and younger, free; includes drinks and dessert
Details: Visit www.marketsatshrewsbury.com or call 235-6611