Dateline: 29 April 2014
We've all heard of home birth (instead of hospital birth), and home schooling (instead of government schooling), but what about home weddings and home funerals? Although I have heard of home funerals (or wakes) once being the norm in rural America, it never occurred to me that simple, inexpensive home weddings (instead of expensive, complicated church weddings) were also once the norm. The following quote comes from the book, Transformation of Rural Life—Southern Illinois, 1890—1990
"Despite its apparent physical autonomy and privacy, the farmstead was the location for many public events. The dead were laid out in the home, washed and dressed by the women of the neighborhood, and neighbors brought food to supply the bereaved family and those who came to sit with them. Marriages were [also] enacted in the home. As Edith Rendleman recalled of her wedding day in 1917, "You never heard of a church wedding in those day. They were mostly justice of the peace ceremonies. It was years and years before church weddings were for common people."
Simple (meaning small and inexpensive) home weddings make a lot of sense to me. What I don't understand from the above excerpt is why they had a justice of the peace perform the wedding instead of a minister. The author of the book makes it clear that churches were an important part of the rural communities. So that's something of a mystery.