I’m at First Things, covering the unexpected gap I’ve found in the wedding planning books I’ve been reading.
I became engaged at Easter, and, as I’ve started planning our wedding with my fiancé, I’ve noticed a suspicious lacuna in the wedding how-to’s I’ve picked up. I would have thought, after one magazine’s handbook covered strategies for getting your pet turtle to join your wedding procession (they won’t walk down the aisle quickly enough, so you must tow its tank in a tulle-swathed wagon), that there was nothing the wedding-industrial complex was going to leave undiscussed.
Except the wedding night.
It’s not that the books and magazines and websites draw a modest veil over the occasion or that their remit stops when the ceremony ends (there are plenty of discussions of honeymoon planning). As I read through The Knot Book of Wedding Lists, it was clear that the wedding night wasn’t simply being ignored but actively treated as an afterthought.
If the bride and groom have already lived as man and wife, then it may be their friends that seem to offer the rarest, most urgent opportunity to give and receive love. It might be the one time this year you see the friend who moved out to California, or the very busy former roommate whose job keeps her traveling, or the cousin with a lot of small children who isn’t making a lot of trips until the youngest can fly. So why not pack in all the time with your guests that you can, since the bridegroom you will always have with you, but everyone else will be gone by Monday.
This is a kinder sort of error than the conventional forms of wedding excess. It is rooted in a love for others and a desire to make as great a self-gift as is possible. But it’s still a form of profligacy. Party after party robs the newlyweds of the chance to give themselves to each other.
And then Simcha Fisher extended my piece at Aleteia:
But the wedding night isn’t a big deal because of the fabulouso sex you’re guaranteed to have. It’s a big deal because it marks a turning point. It’s not supposed to be a pinnacle or culmination of anything; it’s supposed to be a beginning. It’s okay if the sex is not great, because the whole point is that now you can begin to learn how to do this amazing thing. The point is that you’re not only eager to have sex with each other, but you’re eager to start something new together. It’s not about leaving virginity behind; it’s about marking the beginning of a union, which includes but is not limited to married sex.