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Wedding Night Sex

How High Expectations for Sex on Your Wedding Night Can Get In the Way

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Updated May 16, 2014

Bride and groom with wedding rings, holding hands, mid section
Frank Rosenstein/Digital Vision/Getty Images

It’s understandable that a lot of people have very high expectations for sex on their wedding night. Wedding night sex, when it’s talked about at all, is usually built up to be like a sexy Hollywood movie. Everything looks perfect, the lighting is romantic and flattering, you say all the right things, there’s a fade to black, and then a cut to the happy newlyweds eating breakfast in bed the following morning. The problem is that we have a tendency to fill in that fade-to-black, and not always with the most realistic of images.

There’s one reason why I think it’s worthwhile to think about (and talk at least a little about) wedding night sex. That reason is pressure. The tremendous social and personal meaning of weddings easily translates into intense pressure to perform, and that pressure extends beyond the ceremony and reception, sometimes right into the honeymoon suite. This may not be the case for you, but if you aren’t the type to talk with your partner about sex, you may at least want to read on and think about it for yourself a little bit.

Expectations. For couples who choose to get married it’s rare to have no sexual contact prior to their wedding night. You may have abstained from intercourse or other specific sex acts, but chances are good you’ve touched each other in sexual ways that have felt good (which to me qualifies as sex). If you’ve “held out” for the wedding night, that puts a lot of pressure on a sexual act that you’ll be doing for the first time. Even if you haven’t held out, even if you’ve had every kind of sex you can imagine, a lot of people come to feel that getting married changes things (or ought to change things) and sex should change too. Wherever you’re at, you need to know that expectations generally don’t make for great sex. Not only can we build it up so high that no experience will match the fantasy, but when we’re focusing on what we expect we often miss what’s actually happening.

You can deal with expectations in a number of ways. One way is to talk about them up front. Share with your partner what your hopes and fears are about your sex life on your wedding night and beyond. You can also agree to throw all expectations out the window at least for your wedding night. Figure out the minimum you want for that night (time to lay in bed and debrief about the wedding, at least one orgasm, a long hot bath, etc…) and see if you can commit to giving each other the minimum.

Stress. The time leading up to and including your wedding day can be incredibly stressful. Weddings are as much, if not more, about your friends and family than they are about you as a couple. One of the great things about having a wedding is that just surviving it forces you to grow as a couple. The honeymoon will probably be the first time in a long time that you have uninterrupted alone time. And it may take a few days to decompress from all that stress. Having mind blowing, transcendentally bonding sex on your wedding night might not be realistic if you’re both still buzzing from the stress of the previous months and the intense emotion of the wedding day.

You can try to deal with wedding stressors as they arise. But you can’t eliminate the stress. So you may want to think of your wedding night as one long exhale. Instead of planning for elaborate sex role plays and hours of slow rolling orgasms, you might want to focus on what will relax you both the most on your wedding night, and if leave any sexual gymnastics for a night when you’ve both had less to drink and less on your minds.

Reality. Which brings us to one of the other truths of wedding night sex: It requires your body. Despite what you see in movies, a long night of eating and drinking, which was itself a culmination of months of planning, stress, fighting, and maybe more drinking, doesn’t always set the best stage for a night of wild sex. A little bit of alcohol may feel like a sexual enhancer, but too much alcohol for men or women can put a serious damper on sexual functioning and ability to orgasm. If you’re expecting the fairytale day to end in fairytale sex, this can be disappointing. But try not to think of it as an omen or meaning anything other than what it is. You had a LONG, emotionally draining day, and the storybooks may say that this is supposed to end with awesome married sex, in truth it may end simply with some awesome married sleep. The good news is that you may have the rest of your lives to have sex together!

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