It was almost 7 pm and my feet were tired.
The hair pins were digging into my head, my make-up was gone, the wedding dress was uncomfortably tight around the waist (note to the bride – any snug fit around the waist will feel tighter after a meal!).
And our best friend had driven off with our honeymoon luggage.
One of my girlfriends offered to help out. Go to her house and have a quick change of clothes.
My husband gave me that look that I’ve come to understand means “Not gonna happen.”
Starting our first night at a girlfriend’s house instead of a honeymoon suite was not the plan.
And so it was, after a long event-filled happy day, that we finally walked into our honeymoon hotel.
Finally. Just the two of us.
The start of our marriage.
(After nearly one million page views on this blog post, vibrant conversations and emails with brides and grooms around the world, the article has been expanded and is now a book! The Wedding Night: Embracing Sexual Intimacy as a New Bride is no-fluff, down-to-earth resource to help the newly married and engaged woman become sexually confident in marriage. Check it out on Amazon.)
The Wedding Night
Some of you reading this are waay past your wedding night (because I write to newlywed wives.) However, many brides-to-be are planning for their wedding night (one of my friends is getting married this week!)
I hope we can turn this post into a resource for soon-to-be brides and newlyweds; I would love to hear how you prepared for your first night as a married woman.
I’ll go first.
10 things every bride should know before (and about!) her wedding night
1. Take it slow
It’s been a long tiring journey, planning for your wedding.
The running around, the planning, the actual wedding day, it will all take a toll on you and your beloved – mentally, emotionally and physically.
By the end of your wedding day, you’ll be tired though chances are you might not even feel it (that adrenaline thing can lie!)
My husband and I knew we were tired. Plus I was recovering from chicken pox, so my tiredness was on the double.
Our plan for the honeymoon night was dinner, lots of cuddles, massage, plenty of rest and sleep.
But things didn’t’ go according to plan! The saving grace was that we had talked about slowing down, so we were able to extend a lot of grace to ourselves later.
“Slowing down” is easy to say, but not so easy to follow through because you feel like you’ve been waiting forever!
So you’ll need to discuss with your husband-to-be and be on the same page. Don’t get into intimate details but have a rough idea how the evening will play out.
For example, a typical Kenyan wedding ceremony might last the whole day. Afterward, a couple will have a long drive – or flight – to their honeymoon destination.
There’s only so much you can do after being awake and active for almost twenty-four hours.
There’s no hard and fast rule but if you can plan to ease into intimacy, the better the evening/night will be.
2. You won’t know everything
You might have read that and thought “I have some sexual experience, you know.”
Well, here’s a piece of truth you want to chew on; sex within marriage is entirely different from sex outside of wedlock.
Past sexual experience will not make you a “pro” on your wedding night. If anything you have a lot to unlearn and lots to learn (See # 3)
Also on this first night, you’ll want to err on the side of less “wow”.
Most grooms want to wow their brides on the wedding night; many brides want the night to be memorable and intimate and score a 10 out of 10.
I am not trying to be a wet blanket because there’s nothing wrong with planning to wow each other.
But sometimes super high expectations can set you up for serious disappointment when things don’t go according to plan.
It’s so much easier when you come to your wedding night wearing a learner’s hat. Because learners don’t have anything to lose but everything to gain.
So prepare to become a student of your spouse, not just on the wedding night, but for the rest of your married life. (Tweet please)
3. Shut the doors to your past.
If you have a sexual past, any baggage, and works of the flesh, you’ll need shut that door and leave the past in the past.
Begin to ask God to do a deep work in you now, to change you and transform you.
I found this excellent podcast, and you might want to listen in if you are struggling or have ever wondered about it. (it’s just 6 minutes long)
Or maybe you come from the other side of the camp- you feel completely clueless about a wedding night cos you are a virgin.
It’s easy to feel clumsy and foolish, easy to begin to think that you’ll never learn anything.
There’s a little truth in there; you will always be learning something – better get comfy in that student seat!
But the whole truth is that you have followed God’s design and plan for marriage. You are at the perfect place. He will help you; you will learn.
No matter what camp you fall under, don’t listen to the lies of the enemy who wants to discourage you. Choose to fall in love with God’s truth.
Allow His word be a lamp to your feet and a light for your marriage path.
4. It might be awkwaaard
I had no idea that one can kiss and breath at the same time!
So I held my breath on the wedding night..and almost fainted!
Okay, I did not faint, but my breathless after that was not merely a result of… er.. a heady session.
So your delicate lingerie might snap, you might fall off the bed, you might dislike the feel of lubricant, you might gawk, feel embarrassed till your toes curl. (Hopefully not all of them in the same night!)
Here’s something to remember – making love is not a neat, clean, surgical-precise process. It’s not what you’ve seen or heard in movies (that you shouldn’t have been watching in the first place! )
Making love can be awkward, messy and hilarious! Doing it for the first time can be twice as awkward, twice as messy and twice as hilarious!
So you’ll need to bring in your easy genes.
Feel like running to the bathroom and hide till you die of old age? Well, just don’t do it.
Tripped on your elaborate pair of heels? (see why #2 is such a good idea?) Laugh it off and get along.
Your beloved is going through as much awkward himself and taking things lightly will help both of you.
These awkward moments are “naked and unashamed” in motion; you are learning to be vulnerable with each other. And making fun memories!
5. You must communicate
There’s no other place where wives hope their husbands will read their minds the most like the marriage bed.
And you’ll discover this on your wedding night where you sort-of hope he will figure out your body all by himself without a lot of input.
The reality of the matter is that you are learning your body too (and his), so it’s not like you are expected to deliver a whole thesis.
As we pointed out in # 2, you don’ know everything, it’s your first night together (even if it’s not, it’s still the first night under holy matrimony)
So you’ll need to begin to learn how to communicate and engage, to let him know what’s going on with you.
And to let him know what’s going on with you, you’ll need to understand what’s going on with you first. So tune in and listen (see #6).
Don’t fall for the lie that “he’s the man; he’ll figure it out” He won’t figure it out because he doesn’t live in your brain. And even if he did, his mind works very differently!
So if it hurts or you want to try something else or if you are sore and want a break for a few hours, tell him, communicate.
Don’t keep quiet, he wants and needs you engaged.
6. You can’t just lie there and do nothing : )
It’s said that the biggest sexual organ in a woman’s body is her mind. That’s no old-wives tale.
One of the things you need to begin to learn on your wedding night is to reign in your thoughts and concentrate on the moment.
I remember having a thousand and one thoughts buzzing through my mind – the guests, the food, the dancing, the music, the ceremony.
And the TV running in the background; I was distracted to pieces, but I did not know what I know now – that sex begins in my mind.
One of the resources that helped me prepare for my wedding night is a book that was recommended by our mentors; Act of Marriage, The Beauty of Sexual Love, authored by Tim & Beverly Lahaye
I read it month or so to the wedding, and my sweetheart got to read a week to the wedding. (You don’t want to be lighting unnecessary fires so read any detailed intimacy books close to the wedding day.)
Bottom line, get a resource and learn something. Begin to unlearn untruths and learn the truth.
My book, the The Wedding Night: Embracing Sexual Intimacy as New Bride chronicles some of my highs and lows of marriage and shows you how to become a sexually confident wife. Learn more here.
7. Sex might hurt a little
The first time I heard that brides bleed on their wedding night, I had images of a blood bath in our wedding bed. Not trying to gross you out..but we can be mixed up and loopy about the wedding night!
The first night might be uncomfortable, but that’s all it is (or should be)
I like how J Parker, a Christian sex author puts is. Concerning sex on the first night, she says
“You will be sore, just like you were after your first aerobics class. Hey, you’re using muscles you haven’t used before. What do you expect? But just like exercise, you shouldn’t respond by deciding it hurts too much that you have to stop doing it. Be gentle, be careful, but keep up the “exercise.” Your body will get used to it, and sex will no longer hurt.”
Be gentle, be careful, but keep up the “exercise.”
On the other hand, if sex hurts too much, see your doctor immediately.
8. The wedding night is not the end, but the start of your life together
Here’s the main thing I’d love for you to take away from this post.
You don’t have to have a perfect wedding night. In fact, most couples will tell you that they did not have a picture perfect wedding night.
But they loved it anyway.
With all the embarrassments and little issues, it was the start of their married life, and they wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. There’s so much to be grateful for and so much to look forward to.
So don’t exchange the joy and fun for perfect.
Enjoy the evening/night/day and keep in mind that it’s not all you have. There are hundreds of nights to come.
You have more time to learn, to grow, to explore, to get better. So enjoy this night/day because you only have one first wedding night after all!
9. It’s not just about the sex
Real intimacy is marriage is not just about sex. It’s about connecting in all areas – mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
Hopefully, you’ve been connecting in all these other areas (minus the physical) before your wedding night.
Work on building your friendship during engagement and courtship. Because it’s connecting in these other areas that make sex beautiful.
10. Have a mentor
I love online ministry and reading great books and listening to great sermons and teachings.
However, God designed us to do real life with real people. This blog and every other resource are meant to complement real life relationships, not replace them.
Sometimes I’ll receive a heartbreaking email from a reader, and the first thing I want to find out is if they have a mentor, someone to talk to and walk with through life’s situations.
You need a mentor, someone to share your heart with not just before the wedding but after. We are meant to do life together.
A mentor will have authentic instructions. For example, I thought I was weird because we were using added lubrication weeks after the wedding. I mentioned it to my girlfriend, and she reassured me I was normal!
You will have questions, need real-life clarifications from someone who knows you personally.
I can think of some practical things a mentor or close girlfriend can help you with
– If sex is downright painful, like shads-of-glass-tearing-into-you painful, see a doctor fast
– Empty your bladder after (and before, if you can get to it). It will help you not catch a urinary tract infection.
– Fall in love with cleanliness. (I know that sounds obvious, but you know, some girls can go a weekend without a shower)
– Use a lot of lubrication. (Update. Rachel Ramey has an excellent comment on this, check it out below)
– Keep a towel near; like we said, sex can be messy.
– Get something good for your wedding night but be reasonable. That stringy lingerie might look good on a mannequin, but it needs to fit a real life body.
It’s impossible to share everything in a single blog post. That’s why I wrote The Wedding Night: Embracing Sexual Intimacy as a New Bride. Prepare emotionally, spiritually and physically for married sex, gain confidence and obtain practical answers to questions you haven’t dared ask aloud, so you can become a sexually confident wife.
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You can also read these follow-up posts & resources
Linking with Titus 2sday, we That family, Messy Marriage, Wifey Wednesday, Wise Woman