Anna Mae and Hiram: A Mennonite Wedding

This is the wedding portrait of my mother and father

Ruth Landis Metzler and Ray Martin Longenecker 

October 26, 1940

Ray and Ruth Longenecker_4x5_72

June is the month for many American weddings. And so is August. Because many Mennonites were farmers, Mennonite weddings often took place in October, a month that signaled a break in heavy farm work after most of the crops had been harvested. My dad was a farm implement dealer, so his work cycle mimicked that of the farmers he served, which would probably explain the October date for the wedding.

The bride and groom, my parents, are dressed in Mennonite attire and comply with the rules for weddings prescribed by the church in this era: no bridal party prancing down an aisle to “Here Comes the Bride,” no flowers, and definitely no exchange of rings.

Excerpts from Article II, Separation and Nonconformity, Section 2. Public Worship. (19) from the Statement of Christian Doctrine and Rules and Discipline of the Mennonite Church, 1968:

  • “We deem it improper to employ instrumental music in worship and church activities.”
  • “Weddings shall be conducted in a Christian manner avoiding all vain display and in accordance with the prescribed regulations for weddings.” 

*  *  *

Anna Mae Longenecker’s father John is my dad’s first cousin on his father’s side of the family. Anna Mae with her brothers and sisters lived on the farm at Bosslers Corner, a farm bought from William and John Penn by Robert Allison in 1762,  and subsequently bought from Jacob Bossler by John and Nancy Longenecker and kept in the Longenecker family for five generations.  On the lawn of this homestead, one of John’s daughter’s, Anna Mae, poses  for wedding photographs with her new husband, Hiram Aungst.

Anna Mae Longenecker with her sisters on her wedding to Hiram Aungst.
Anna Mae Longenecker with her new husband and sisters posing for wedding photos on the lawn of the John Longenecker homestead.

Either the rules for wedding have relaxed a little in the ten or more years since my parents’ wedding, or brides have become more bold. This wedding accessories include corsages for attendants, a white Bible with streamers for the bride and the groom and groomsmen in non-Mennonite suits and neckties.

As the video shows, there was muted frivolity after the wedding which included rice throwing. Yes, it was real rice, not bird-seed!

Note the cars decorated in full post-ceremony regalia, worthy of any “fancy” wedding.

OldCar

 

Then and now: Your thoughts on wedding ceremonies welcome.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

33 thoughts on “Anna Mae and Hiram: A Mennonite Wedding

  1. Somehow the simplicity, not the rules, seem like “getting it right.” The modest outlay of cash, the focus on a wedding being a worship service and not a fashion show. The families who go into debt today are no improvement over families in India who used to (at least in the beautifully written “City of Joy” where I read about it) would sell body organs to help pay for a daughter’s dowry …

    Like

    1. You hit the nail on the head, Melodie. Weddings of this sort focused on the wedding ceremony as a prelude to a long-term commitment in which divorce was not thought of as an option.

      I had never heard of the selling of body organs to subsidize a daughter’s dowry. Ghastly! (Heaven help them if they had more than one daughter.) Such practices rank right up there with the obscene outlay of money on TV shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” and Bridezillas.

      Like

  2. I enjoyed seeing these photos so much! Any wedding where two people are in love and want to share their joy with others makes me happy–the style and format doesn’t matter. My older daughter is getting married in August, so weddings are on my mind! It will not be a “simple”
    wedding, but it won’t be over the top either. She’s marrying another woman, so I guess that makes it different, but no less beautiful to me.

    Is the eighteenth-century farm still in your family?That is so cool. I’ve been reading about food and farming during the eighteenth-century (dairying, etc.) for my book.

    Like

    1. This farm has left the Longenecker line but has since passed on to another “plain” family who has maintained the house and farm beautifully. I look forward to your book’s publication!

      Like

  3. I love this post, since, as you know, I chose weddings as the theme of June’s Magical Memoir Moments on my blog.

    Your video is just priceless. The rice-throwing scene (and the groom’s gum chewing) shows both the thrill of doing something “other people do at weddings” while feeling a little ungainly and glad to get back to the “way things are” in daily life. Such a good metaphor for where the whole church was in daily life in the 1950’s and early ’60’s — changing but unsure of themselves (ourselves).

    I’ll be sharing this post for the edification of my friends interested in the same “plain and fancy” theme. And then I’m off to the Rhodes reunion. My husband’s family still has old-order Mennonite members. Hundreds of people anticipated as the direct descendents of his grandparents. It will be like reaching out and touching history.

    Like

    1. Your wise observations would fit an answer to the question “What inferences can you draw from these wedding photos?” And you have first-hand experience from the era to boot! How fortunate that we both can reach out and touch history in many directions. (Actually, I never noticed the groom’s gun chewing until I put the video into media for this post.)

      I’m guessing we’ll see a post soon about the Rhodes family reunion. It sounds as though they are a nice complement to Stuart’s Showalter side. Thanks for the sharing and commenting as always, Shirley.

      Like

  4. Beautiful photo and video, Marian. Your parents are gorgeous. In the video, I’m betting that John, your Dad’s first cousin, was chewing gum so as not to betray how nervous he might have been that day.

    I do remember the rice. Thank heavens it was uncooked. If not, then that would have been a sticky situation. 😉

    Like

  5. Oh Marian that picture of mom and dad wedding is beautiful. What a treasure. They were and are still so beautiful. Mom at soon 96 years of age is just as pretty today as she was on the day of her wedding. Dad was so tall and handsome always. I didn’t know why the Mennonite church never used musically instruments at church. I just always loved the simplicity of everything that I never even asked. I love going to Mom’s. It’s just such a wonderful peaceful blessed life my grandchildren loved so much.
    Thank you for your post.
    Gloria

    Like

  6. Thanks, Gloria. Though we were not together for most of these experiences, we share similar memories. I’m glad your grand-children can benefit from this friendship as well. Yes, peaceful, simple, and blessed are all words I would use to describe this kind of life.

    Like

  7. Marion – I just can’t get over the fact that you even HAVE these oh-so-cool video clips!

    I enjoyed what your first responder (Melodie) had to say: Somehow the simplicity, not the rules, seem like “getting it right.”

    Len and I eloped (to my parent’s horror!) on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1980. It cost a total of $32.50 which has proved to be well worth the investment.

    In late April I attended a wedding that most likely cost more than any home we’ve ever purchased. And while I’m not Mennonite, I definitely embrace simplicity.

    Like

  8. Beautiful images. I’m learning from you and Shirley Showalter how the rules were bent and changed. Shouldn’t be surprised since everything changes. And videos. Wow. Who knew videos would be OK. I will never forget being in the stem cell transplant unit with my husband (he underwent the procedure). An 18-month-old Mennonite baby was going through the high tech procedure, but his grandma had to ask me to put her casserole in the patient microwave because she wasn’t allowed to touch the microwave.

    My wedding was small, powerful, and homemade. I wore a pale yellow dress with a 1968 style mini-skirt I made myself. I was ecstatic.

    Like

    1. Between Shirley and me you have a good impression of the Mennonite way of life of the more lax type. I love your description of your wedding and marriage that followed. Some people live all their lives without true love.

      Like

  9. Weddings have gotten so out of hand today. You see parents spending a small fortune, a sum that would be much better served as a down payment for a newlywed home, and then the bride and groom look harried from all the bustle. When you lose joy in the day, it becomes an event instead of a celebration.

    Like

    1. As you may guess, the “stills” are snapshots from the video and thus not very clear. The sweet emotion, though, is preserved through the years as you have pointed out. Thank you!

      Like

  10. My wedding was a very modest affair. This was not because of any religious rules but simply because I’m. to really one to make a fuss, besides we didn’t have much money. For me the wedding is the least important part, it’s the years of love that come after.

    Like

  11. Your pictures are so neat. I remember Hiram Aungst. His brother Warren and wife Anna were good friends with my parents. I remember getting together with them where they lived on a farm.
    There are also a number of pictures of Warren and Anna in my Mother’s albums.

    Like

    1. This was the only plain wedding Aunt Ruthie filmed. The others were Harvey Hoffman’s son and Alvin Longenecker’s daughters, all fancy affairs. Christine Minnich, Ruth Arlene Longenecker Weaver’s grand-daughter has seen the post, but I’m not sure anyone else in the immediate family knows about it.

      As you probably know, unfortunately Anna Mae died all too soon after she and Warren were married. Thanks for filling in some other aspects of their history.

      Like

  12. My two oldest are married. Eliana and Theo married 3 years ago last week and Andreas and Ka married May 24 this year. Both weddings were similar, large, around 400 guests, married at church with a simple reception luncheon after that we prepared ourselves, mostly. Eliana had wanted a certain cake so she ordered that at a bakery. Ka wanted cupcakes so we did those ourselves with help on the frosting (more decorative than I could manage.) Our church has a huge, very nice 1st floor fellowship hall that the members paint and spruce up every spring in preparation for the wedding season. We did much of the cooking there, though we ordered all the buns for sandwiches.

    Family guests come in from all over and stay with us other family in the area. We also had quite a number camping out on the property in tents and RVs. Fortunately the weather cooperated. They chose the Memorial Day weekend date as it gave people more time for travelling and getting together for something like this is a giant reunion. There were also a couple graduation parties and a baby shower and a 50th wedding anniversary for good measure.

    Ka is Hawaiian by birth but Chinese in heritage. Her parents are older and it is just the 3 of them in the US, and only distant family remain in China. When she moves for school, they move with her (retired now) and they bought a side by side duplex about 30 min N of us where the 2 children will be working. They both finished school in May and moved up here.
    Since the 2 started dating several years ago, the parents have been included in everything we do and they are just a delightful couple. For Christmas Eve to add to our mish-mash menu we always serve, they made Hawaiian sushi…it is rice compressed into a mold, then a layer of crispy fried spam and more rice, wrapped with a piece of seaweed. I forgot the name, but it was tasty.

    As someone else mentioned earlier, what you don’t spend on a wedding you could buy a house, and they did!

    Like

    1. You have a diverse extended family with lovely traditions. You mention that your menu is “mish-mash,” but that adds to the flavor, I’m sure. I like your last comment–weddings are just the beginning of a marriage. It’s nice to know the happy couple could afford the firm foundation of a house. Thanks for commenting, Athanasia.

      Like

  13. You are definitely your parents’ daughter, Marian; you look so much like your mother! What a simple, lovely picture. The Church of the Brethren had similar practical “rules,” though it was very acceptable for the bride to carry a bouquet of flowers from the family garden, and in my grand-mother’s picture, her groom (my grandfather) wore a rose bud pinned to his suit. He gave her the thin gold wedding band his mother had worn until her death.
    Wonderful, touching post, a beautiful reminder of the strong, simple beauty of blossoming love.

    Like

    1. It’s interesting that we share similar, simple origins – yours with the Church of the Brethren and mine with a Mennonite heritage. It’s strange to think now that flowers, the loveliest of God’s creation, were banned from some plain weddings. Fortunately yours was an exception. The memory from your grand-parents is touching. Thank you, Marylin.

      Like

  14. Wow, I’m so excited I don’t know where to begin! Greetings from Orlando! I came across this very cool wedding story in my search for information about Warren Aungst. I am one of his Great-Nephews, J. Philip Aungst, Son of Hiram Wilbur and Ellen Mae Aungst. My Grandfather, John Wayne Aungst , was Warren’s brother. Born in 1957, and with my immediate family moving to Vermont when I was 4, I have no memories of Uncle Warren or his family except my Grandparents. However, what i do remember ( like it was yesterday),…… is Uncle Warren’s sweet bologna and the few times we were fortunate enough to cherish, bite by bite and making it last as long as possible. I remember my Dad carefully pulling back the burlap and him slicing it paper thin. I would love to attempt making it if there is a recipe available. I have thought about doing this for years, and finally decided to start the search. I am very thankful to have had the influences of my ancestors and to say, ” I am Pennsylvania Dutch!”
    I love to cook and bake, and would be so grateful for the recipe, or, do you know what he did, or didn’t do different from the “regular” sweet bologna?

    Like

    1. I am so glad your search led to my blog. As you can tell from the post, I do not have close contact with that branch of the Longeneckers any more. In fact, I live in Jacksonville, FL! I don’t have the recipe, and I wouldn’t know how it is different from other sweet bologna recipes. Melvin Longenecker, one of John Longenecker’s sons, made sweet bologna, but I don’t have any contact numbers for him. I might check to see if anyone of my relatives back in PA knows his mailing address.

      Welcome to my blog, Philip.

      Like

Thank You for Leaving a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s