The wedding night: Perhaps one of the most high-stakes nights of one's life. But what do couples really do on their wedding night? A lot is expected of one little night — basically it's supposed to be a nonstop sexfest, full of romance straight from chick flicks and tenderness the likes of which has never been seen before. Obviously, that perfection is impossible — such is the nature of insanely high expectations — but what actually goes on?
My favorite story comes from Kathy, 70, who married her husband 39 years ago. I won't ruin the sweet story by retelling it myself, but I will say that my inner (and not-so-inner) romantic lapped it up with a spoon. It totally gave me goosebumps — not because her story tells of a night of unparalleled passion and romance, but because it is so honest, and reminds me that relationships are never perfect, never go the way we think they will — but if they're healthy and strong, the way they actually go is even better than we could've planned. This idea was echoed again and again by all of the stories I heard. As Katie, 29, says of her experience: "Our wedding night was just as I'd hoped and nothing like I'd read about in magazines."
Here are nine real-life stories of what couples actually did on their wedding night.
1. Kathy, 70
I had this wonderful fantasy about my wedding night: my husband and I would fly from our wedding in L.A. straight to Maui. I had been there with friends before, and dreamed of a wedding night of walking on the beach, going for ice cream at a lovely beachside stand and then going to the room for a night of passion.
Reality was somewhat different. After an incredibly stressful (half of my family, including my father, boycotted the wedding because I was marrying out of the Catholic Church — even though two nun friends happily attended the ceremony — and my mother tearfully begged me, in front of my new in-laws, to reconsider this marriage), tiring, but overall happy day, we arrived in Maui at the equivalent of 2 a.m. L.A. time. When we got off the plane, it was raining and windy, and my husband said 'I hate this place!'
We got to the hotel, found the ice cream place closed for the night, and walking on the beach with blowing sand and a bit of a chill in the air more than a little unpleasant. We went to our room, and I went into the bathroom to take a shower. When I emerged in my new white peignoir set, I found my husband fast asleep on top of the covers, still fully clothed, out for the night. So I sat on our balcony all alone that night, wondering if I could be married to someone who hated Maui.
About two days later — after getting our noses back in joint — we decided that we were happy to be married after all. He decided that Maui was his favorite place, and we finally had our night of passion. And now we shake our heads at how naive we were to think that a night of passion would even have been possible given the level of exhaustion we had after our big day.
We will celebrate our thirty-ninth wedding anniversary next May, and have been a couple for 40 years already. We've had a good and loving marriage despite our rough beginning. And we try to get to Maui every year. It's still his and my favorite vacation spot.
2. Stephanie, 29
In an effort to enjoy every minute of our wedding and to live in the moment, I actually did not think about the actual wedding night/post-reception portion of the evening before it happened. I have to say it was one of the most special, unexpected moments of the entire weekend!
My husband Erik and I returned to our room — the team at the Four Seasons, Washington, D.C., had, unbeknownst to us, created quite the ambiance for when we would return to the bridal suite at the end of the night. We walked in, the lights had been dimmed, our wedding song, "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay," was playing on repeat, and the pillow cases on the bed were replaced with ones they had embroidered with our names and wedding date, and a line from the wedding song, "Watching the tides roll away."
In the center of the room, they had set up a table for two, with candles and food from our entire wedding menu!! Two of every passed hors d'oeuvre, two first courses, both dinner options, every dessert we served, and even the mini bottles of patron we had passed our at the end of the night.
It was so unexpected and very well received by Erik and myself, as we were both thrilled to have this moment together and to eat! We ate as much of it as we possibly could, laughed, and it was a really special way to end such a wonderful evening. I don't usually sound this cliche . . . but it was magical. Truly.
3. Katie, 29
Funny story: Once we got to the bed and breakfast, there was champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries — so romantic — but the second we walked in, I ugly-cried! I had held it all in during the day, and let it loose, terrifying my new husband. After I calmed down, he helped me out of my dress, where we then made out and then ate all the cake balls we took from the reception. We had sex later, of course, but our wedding night was just as I'd hoped and nothing like I'd read about in magazines. It was perfect.
4. Heidi, 45
My husband and I have been married for 14 years (but together for 23). We were married at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas (the closest I could get to my dream 'Island Wedding') on March 10, 2001. I was a beautiful day, but our first night as husband and wife really didn't go the way we planned.
Fantasy wedding night: Our plan was to sneak out of our reception and spend the night in our romantic hotel room. We planned on taking a bubble bath together, eating some strawberries dipped in chocolate, drinking some lovely alcoholic beverages and letting the rest of the night take its course. I know it may not be the fantasy for most, but since we had two kids under 6 we were just excited to be able to spend the evening together with no interruptions.
Our wedding night: Since most of us were from Southern California, we all drove to Las Vegas. Most of our friends and families carpooled together, but I did have a co-worker who traveled by herself. She attended our wedding and reception, and when we were about to leave, we found out that my co-worker was planning on traveling back to Southern California that night, because she couldn't get a room anywhere. Now, I'm sorry, there was no way my husband and I were going to let a 20-something single woman travel back to California by herself in the middle of the night. We tried pulling strings, but nothing worked, as there was a huge convention in town and all hotels were booked. After an hour trying to find her a room, we made the executive decision that she stay with us in our room and she could drive home the next morning. Of course she refused, but we insisted, because we would feel horrible if something happened to her on the way home.
So our romantic evening turned out with us requesting a rollaway bed, ordering room service, buying a movie that all of us feel asleep to. No, our wedding night didn't go as planned . . . My husband and I joke about our wedding night, but I know that if it happened again, we would do the same thing.
5. Myron, 48
I was 29, she was 26. I was very experienced. She was a virgin. So I spent my wedding night taking my (now ex) wife's virginity. I was used to sex with experienced women. I knew that, typically speaking, if I did this, this would happen. If I did that, it would produce a different result. Didn't work out that way with her, so it was a comedy of errors. We eventually found something of a groove, but we'd been chaste all our courtship, and I was anxious to get to business. I wish we'd done it differently, that I wasn't in such a rush, that I was more sensitive to the fact that I may have been the 'expert' generally, but I was no expert when it came to her body, how her clitoris reacted, and all that. I recall resenting her for directing me. 'What do you know?' I remember thinking, 'I'm the one who knows his way around the bed. I've handed out orgasms like candy before. Just lay back and let me do my thing.' Ugh. Not good.
If I had to do it all over again, I would have spent several hours (or at least much more time) getting the lay of the land before I worried about [getting] into the land of the laid. I just hope it helps another knuckle-headed man like I was back then (still am, LOL) not make my mistakes. There’s a lot of sex in marriage. Take the time to get it right.
6. Maddie, 57
On my big day, I wore a sexy and itchy bra, panties and garter belt all damn day under my wedding gown, just so that I could do a striptease for him when we finally got to the bridal suite. I barely got the first few buttons undone when he announced that he was running a bath for us, and he would meet me in there. He didn't even watch me undress! But I got in the tub, and started some sexy talk, which he didn't respond to. Sexiest thing that happened was washing each other's backs. After we had sex, which was nothing special, we went to sleep. Still the optimist, I decided to jump his bones in the morning. That ended up being very quick, because we had places to be. All in all, not exactly stellar performance. I laugh about it 30 years later.
7. Jen, 50
My wedding night, 24 years ago (I am now divorced), was me and my then husband falling asleep! It was 2 a.m., it took him 15 minutes to unbutton all the buttons on my dress for me. By the time he was done, we were zonked and we had to wake up early in the morning for a flight out to our honeymoon. No romance what-so-ever. . . . I can't imagine many have the energy for sex!
8. Marty, 59
Concerning my first marriage [when I was 24], my girlfriend/fiancée and I had been living together for about a year and half, so there were no great expectations about the wedding night. What we did do after the wedding and the reception was invite the bridal party and a few more close friends over to the Marriott for a more private party (nothing sexual) with pizza and beer. The guy who brought the pizza and beer said he got a lot of weird looks walking through the Marriott lobby with four pizzas on one shoulder, a case of beer on the other shoulder, and asking for directions to the bridal suite.
9. Nicole, 29
I was expecting a sex marathon but we were tired, stressed, and hungry. We got takeout and then I got sick, cried, and threw up.
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