#15 – Family Weddings

Courting picture of  my parents, Martha Derstine and Lester Clemmer

How Mennonite weddings have changed over  the last century! My parents’ wedding took place at the bishop’s house on June 12, 1926.  It was a “double wedding” together with their friends Elmer and Elsie.  Nobody else attended. According to the bill from the dressmaker, my Mom’s silk dress cost $13.90.  I believe they headed for their wedding trip to Washington DC immediately afterwards, and my grandparents held a small family dinner at their farm when the couple returned.

I missed my only sibling Jim’s wedding to Ethel Alderfer because my mother was afraid I would disrupt the proceedings by crying. Since I was 11 months old at the time, she may have been right!

My Uncle Russ was one of the first people in our circle to own a movie camera, and he made the most of it at Jim and Ethel’s wedding at her home farm in 1948.  I’ve seen his little film so often I think I was there!

Wedding photo of my brother, Jim Clemmer, to Ethel Alderfer

Ethel says they drove to Quakertown for formal picture-taking with car horns blaring immediately after the wedding, then came back to the farm for a ham dinner and wedding cake.

Lots of older cousins married during my childhood years, and I attended all the weddings held in our community, and at least one in Ohio.  What I loved most about those weddings was when the couple opened their presents for all to see, and when they fed each other a piece of wedding cake.

I participated in my cousin Helen’s wedding in Maryland as a bridesmaid – the only family wedding I’ve actually been in. I was a student at Goshen College in Indiana at that time, and traveled to Maryland by train.

Sam and I with niece Karen, and nephews Gerry and Ken (back), baby Andy, and Mike (squinting)

As an adult, I attended the weddings of each of my four nephews, since they had each graciously attended mine (actually, they had no choice…it was a family vacation).

My memories of them at my wedding are captured in this photo, with Gerry holding his baby brother Andy a bit awkwardly (did the baby smell, I wonder?) and Mike squinting.

Perhaps what I remember most from the weddings of my four nephews is Mike singing to his bride April as she walked down the aisle (a surprise for her!).

One of Mom’s last trips was travelling to Hagerstown, Maryland for Andy and Pam’s wedding. She was persuaded to let Sam and me take her on that trip when her sister Mildred went along to visit with her daughter, my cousin Gerry, who lived (and still lives) in the same community.

Hannah Clemmer Ulloa and Alex Ulloa, with her parents, April and Michael Clemmer

In recent years, the weddings of Jim and Ethel’s grandchildren have also served as significant family reunions. Sam and I have been pleased to attend the wedding or Pa. reception of each of my great nieces. All 40 members of Jim and Ethel’s family showed up at Hannah and Alex’s wedding earlier this month. I wish my brother Jim had been alive to see it!

During the growing up years of Jim and Ethel’s grandchildren, family dinners and annual family beach vacations kept the cousins connected with each other.  So now they and the aunts and uncles show their support at milestone events such as weddings and graduations. And at Hannah and Alex’s wedding, it was fun to see five little girl cousins in yet another generation getting into the act, swirling on the dance floor in their matching party dresses….


Questions for Reflection:

  1. On what occasions (if any) do members of your extended family of origin still get together?
  2. How do you experience those times?  What is nourishing for your spirit? What (if anything) causes stress?

Next week: The Sisters of St. John the Divine

3 thoughts on “#15 – Family Weddings

  1. As usual, I love reading and sharing your post. It was such fun to see the photos through the years. A nice memory of the wedding here in Hagerstown, of Pam and Andy. I have some nice photos of your Mom and mine, with my daughter, standing outside at our house. Let me know if I emailed you those. I think I did but will look for them to send if you’d like them. Let me know if you’d like–remind me of the year that was–early 1990’s?


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