The wedding night is fraught with anticipation and expectation. How can you best approach sex for the first time? Practice makes perfect, right? But how can you prepare for your wedding night when you are not supposed to practice? Many newlyweds shut the hotel door behind them only to discover that a Hollywood sex scene requires a director that is not in the room. Here are some thoughts on ways to set yourselves up for a memorable night.
Note: Our sex-permeated culture complicates writing an article about how to prepare for the wedding night. It is not uncommon for Christian couples to cohabitate or engage in premarital sex. My fear is that this article would be seen as irrelevant for those in that light. Regardless of your sexual history as a couple, two things are true: The wedding night is still sacred and God redeems our stories. Furthermore, sex under the vow of marriage becomes a spiritual union sanctified by God for His glory.
Talk to Another Couple: Remember the birds and the bees talk from Dad or Mom? Think along those lines. As a boy or girl with curiosity and a changing body, you had questions that needed answers. Now you are ready for more. Talk to a married friend of the same gender who will begin to normalize sex for you. My wife has given numerous sex talks with young women before their wedding day. Choose someone who will be specific in practical details. Capitalize on the opportunity to learn from someone who no longer has a starry-eyed, naïve perspective. Ask questions. Take notes. Learn from the mistakes and wisdom of someone invested in your process.
Talk Out Your Scripts: You both have your own imaginative script of how the night will go. While the two of you must be on the same page in a lot of areas (you probably would not be getting married otherwise), the likelihood of your wedding night scripts matching exactly is small. A week before the wedding, begin the conversation about how you want the night to go. Spontaneous sex has its place in marriage, but precious planning will make your wedding night far more memorable. A word of caution: Planning this night too far in advance may arouse desires earlier than you would like. Use discernment about when and where to talk.
Admit Your Expectations: Are you optimistic? Pessimistic? Idealistic? How do you feel about sex? Discuss your fears ahead of time. Sex is about intimacy, and that means telling the truth about what is happening inside of you. The more honest you are about your expectations, the better the sex will be. You may feel like you “should” feel a certain way. Dismiss any shoulds. You are who you are, and who you are makes sense based on your personal journey. The greatest gift you can give to your future spouse on your wedding night is honest discussion about your expectations.
Prepare the Room: Music? Flowers? Chocolate? Guys, you have watched your fiancé spend months setting the scene for the nuptials. It is your turn to set the stage for the wedding night. You have an opportunity to model Christ’s own care for his marriage to the church. John 14:2-3 speaks of the Lord’s exit to prepare a place for his bride, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” In this post-Fall world, the church cries out and longs for a refuge, a place of safety and acceptance. Men, your bride desires the same, especially when it comes to her sexuality. Prepare the room for your wedding night with the anticipation and graceful kindness of Christ.
Recount the Day: Weird as it may sound, some couples live the entire wedding day without talking to one another. Seriously. “I do” may be the only two words you speak to your new spouse. Other than the first dance, some couples spend the entire reception saying hello to family and friends from out of town. The day goes by in a blur. Once the hotel room door shuts behind you, take the chance to relax and reminisce. Share your experiences. Connect. What excited you throughout the day? What disappointments did you have? Who was it fun to see? What is it like to own the title “husband” or “wife”? Get to know each other again.
Go Slow: If this is your first time together, you can count on one adjective to describe the night: Awkward. Hollywood makes sex look easy. Do not work to recreate a cinematic experience. Embrace awkward. Take your time, and let the emotional flood of messiness rise to the surface. Even if this is not your first time together, go slow. Sexuality always comes with shame, both healthy and toxic. As shame surfaces, realize that intimacy is less about Hollywood sex and more about honest, emotional connection.
Take the Night Off: Give yourselves the freedom not to have sex on your wedding night. Yes, you read that correctly. You may have waited twenty, thirty, or even forty years for this experience. Why wait another night? Chances are you will be exhausted after a long day. As already detailed above, good sex takes work and requires emotional energy and attention. You may be hungry because the reception ended before you could eat. You may be tired from a late bachelor or bachelorette party. You may be terrified of the lifelong commitment you just made. Regardless of the numerous complications that could present themselves, agree ahead of time that is okay not to have sex the first night. At the heart level, sex is about sacrifice and other-centeredness. Prioritize intimacy and connection over physical connection to set a foundation for great sex throughout your marriage.