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Hutterite weddings and hulbas

Marriage

A Hutterite wedding is a joyous affair, and usually fills the better part of two weekends. It is a time of happiness and celebration – a chance to see old friends or make new ones.

The male is expected to initiate the proceedings leading to the wedding. He will seek permission and guidance from the elders in his colony, and his intentions will be announced publicly.

Hulba

Traditionally, the groom-to-be goes to the bride’s colony with family and friends for what is known as the Aufred Hulba, usually a week or two prior to the wedding. On this Sunday afternoon or evening there will be a gathering in the bride’s home consisting of elders, friends, relatives and youth where the groom-to-be publicly asks the parents’ consent for their daughter’s hand in marriage. There is a lot of well-wishing, admonishment, and advice from elders, friends, and relatives; this is a festive time, followed by a fine supper.

Later in the evening at the Hulba there will be a gathering of the entire colony and invited guests to celebrate this happy event. The couple is seated at front center, surrounded by family and close friends on one side, and ministers and other special guests on the other. Singing in various forms takes place, from choral arrangements by the youth to various small groups, children’s groups and traditional songs by the entire congregation.

Many from the bride’s colony will not be at the wedding, as most weddings take place on the groom’s colony; so this will be their only chance to celebrate with her. Young people usually keep on singing far into the night.

A day of the following week following the Aufred Hulba is usually set aside for the couple to obtain legal documents, and for the couple’s families to spend some time together, often followed by a barbeque or a restaurant meal for supper. This time may also be used to take wedding photos.

The Wedding

The Saturday before the wedding, the bride will say goodbye to friends staying behind; the couple will be escorted in a train of vehicles carrying the wedding party to the groom’s colony. The arrival of this motorcade is a merry event: An ‘organized confusion’ of shouting, coloured balloons and honking horns lead the bride and groom’s motorcade into the colony. The bride and guests are greeted and welcomed by members of the community. Shortly after there is a short church ceremony, festive supper, and a other activities similar to the previous Sunday’s celebration.

The wedding ceremony takes place Sunday morning where at the end of a lengthy sermon on Christian conduct in marriage, the couple stands before the assembled church, exchanges wedding vows and is pronounced man and wife.

Following the wedding ceremony a traditional mid day wedding meal is served.

Specially-made table settings and decorations which had been planned and labored over for the previous days and weeks adorn the tables.

Around 3 to 4:00 in the afternoon is yet another gathering, the Huchzeit. This is usually a continuation of the previous evening’s activities and entertainment, with singing, and maybe poetry or a powerpoint specially created for this event. Snacks and desserts are served here as well. This truly is a joyous season, and much cause for celebration.

A Christian Marriage

A Hutterite marriage is a Christian union; therefore, we believe that for a marriage to be valid, both partners must be members of the church. A pure life given as a sacrifice for Christ and His church is a necessary precursor before this union can take place. A couple’s love must never exceed or overshadow their love for God and for His church.

Further, we believe that marriage should represent the union between Christ and His Church. As Christ is the head of the church, so must the man be the head of a marriage (Gen 2:20-24), not as a ruler or tyrant, but with the responsibility to lead his wife further to the Lord, as Christ leads those who respond to His calling (Eph 5:20-25). Likewise the wife has a calling to be his helpmeet, working and providing for the home (Proverbs 31:10-31). Love, honour, and respect are key in this undertaking, and applicable to both partners in the union. And, in accordance with Christ’s teaching, divorce is not an option available to us as Christians (Matthew 19:4-6).