Weddings in civilization date back thousands of years and have been present in virtually every culture and era, solidifying the place unions between two people hold in the foundation of humanity. Western wedding traditions are largely derived from early Christian customs, in which the groom waits at the end of the aisle for his bride to reach his side.
The Structure of the Wedding Party
Modern western weddings generally consist of a bridal party composed of friends and family of the bride, referred to as bridesmaids, and friends and family of the groom, called groomsmen. Today, these parties are more casual, seen as an honor by those asked to participate, but in the early history of wedding parties, the role of a wedding party was for the bride and groom's protection.
Prior to today's more modern incarnation, early bridesmaids tended to the bride in her preparations the days immediately preceding the wedding and wore matching outfits. In the event someone attempted to harm the bride, they would be unable to identify which woman was the bride and which ones were her handmaidens. The same logic regarding protection from evil, both in the form of spirits and humans, applied to the groom and his ushers, or groomsmen.
The Processional Order
The order of the wedding processional relates directly to the early purposes of the bridal party. The first members in the processional are the groom and his mother, a position of honor that marks the beginning of the ceremony. In some ceremonies, the mother of the bride is also a part of the processional.
After the mothers are seated, the best man and groomsmen traditionally walk one at a time down the aisle, in order to protect the groom from evil spirits. It is common for the groomsmen to walk behind the groom, arm in arm with the bridesmaids. After the groomsmen arrive, they accompany the groom at the altar, standing faithfully by his side. At this time, the officiant may choose to walk down the aisle, although many ceremonies start with the officiant standing at the altar.
Once the groomsmen and bridesmaids are finished with their walk, the maid of honor follows them. Following the historic tradition, the bridesmaids are intended to protect the bride from evil or harm prior to her walk. Once they are at the end of the aisle, the bride may begin to walk, traditionally accompanied by her father, so that he may give her away to her new husband.
While a traditional wedding processional is favored in weddings across the Western world, there is a lot of room for flexibility. Many brides and grooms are willing to consider alternatives and updates to fit their preferences, but at the historical order and practice is still at the center of virtually all weddings, no matter the size, scale, or religious practice.
Read Our New 21 Best Groomsmen Gifts of 2019
Kelsey hardly had time to enjoy the wedding she’d been planning for the last year and a half. As with most first-time brides, she had turned into a crazed perfectionist with hundreds of to-do lists and a trail of frustrated bridesmaids, friends and relatives in her war path.
And now, all of a sudden, she found herself in the hotel room, with Brad flashing that adorable dimpled grin that meant one of two things: 1) he wants to watch a classic Sci-Fi for movie night, or 2) he’s ready for sex.
“Blade Runner or Return of the Jedi?” he asked.
Giggling, Kelsey slipped off her 1920’s style wedding dress to reveal her lace teddy with garter belt, stockings and high heels to match. Brad’s eyes immediately went up and down her body till they stopped, widened for a second, and moved away quickly accompanied with a nervous gesture toward the lamp.
“Let’s make it more romantic!” he said in a high-pitched voice as he made a dash for the light switch.
Kelsey, taken-aback, didn’t understand his reaction. Yes, they’ve been having sex for the last three years since they started dating, but this juicy number was supposed to guarantee a bigger reaction than that.
Looking down at her body to make sure she really did look as hot as the Agent Provocateur sales lady said she would, Kelsey noticed where she had slipped up.
In the middle of all the dolling up and freaking out earlier at the waxing and beauty salon, she had forgotten to do the most important thing for this high-cut piece to work…
And that brings us to Wedding Night Mistake #1
Though weddings are about gowns, vows, rings and cake, wedding nights are about sex. Yet, somehow, many couples don’t prioritize this in their preparations (and sometimes forget it altogether).
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a couple, men and women should groom themselves for both the party and the after-party à deux.
Show that you care as much about your partner’s delight as you do for the wedding photographer’s. Trim, shave, wax. Freshen up down there after a long day of running around. And don’t eat things that will linger on your breath like garlic and onions.
Mistake # 2
Making your wedding about others instead of focusing on the passion and love between the two of you.
Make it a point to remind yourself during the day to connect with your partner. Take some time out from mingling with friends and family and steal a few sweet kisses in private. Tell him you can’t wait to get him all to yourself. Give her that hungry look that you used to when you first met.
These little moments of passion will get you ready for later that night, and they’ll also help you slow down and enjoy the wedding itself, which for most people flies by in what feels like milliseconds.
What is the one thing that is sure to ruin any attempt at having fun?
You guessed it: stress.
Breaking down about the messy floral arrangement or worrying about your best man hitting on your sister is not the best use of your time and energy on this important occasion.
If you’re still in the planning phase of your wedding, please do yourself, and everyone, else a favor and just drop the need for perfection. And during the wedding, don’t micromanage everyone, especially not your partner.
Relax. Breathe. Chill. Trust that things will unfold much more beautifully if you and your lover are glowing with laughter and ease.
Then once you get to your bridal bed, you are able to switch into a delicious mood, plus you haven’t alienated your sweetie with harsh criticism or barked orders.
Similar to mistake #3 is carrying your wedding into your wedding night. Once you get through the door of your room, drop all concerns, worries, and the desire to go over every little detail of what happened.
Even if your uncle made a scene by getting plastered, or your best friend’s daughter spilled grape juice all over your suit. Don’t. Talk. About. It. You’ll have plenty of time the next day to relive every moment, but tonight is your night. Make it count.
Overdoing the champagne.
This doesn’t really need much explaining. You already know the pitfalls of too many glasses. You remember graduation, and your 30th birthday, and that little mishap at your cousin’s bachelorette party, and of course there was that vacation in Mexico you can hardly remember.
Anyway, the important thing is to enjoy yourself without compromising your composure and quality of presence. Even if you’re nervous, just breathe. And don’t forget to eat something.
Forgetting to eat and drink the whole day.
Weddings go by very quickly for the bride and groom. But make no mistake: they are long, intense, busy days that need a lot of energy to get through. Not eating or drinking water the entire time will make you cranky, tired and add onto the stress.
And it will make the champagne drinking all the more risky.
Making your wedding night a performance as well.
We can’t help feel like we’re stage actors during the wedding. We obsess over lighting, tone of voice, the props, and the words we say. We try to make everything picture-perfect so that it’s a day to remember for everyone involved. We need to be the best hosts and ensure that everyone is enjoying (and behaving) themselves.
But please don’t put that kind of pressure on your wedding night as well. It’s absolutely great to prepare for it, that’s actually what we talked about in mistake #1. But once you’re there, try to just be natural.
The best way to do that is to focus purely on pleasure. No need to show off a new technique. No need to try to keep your hairdo in-place. Keep your pretzel-pose for the yoga studio, or on another night. And no need to get upset if the rose petals on the bed are pink instead of red like you asked for.
Just breathe, relax, and take it slow.
So now that we’ve gotten these mistakes out of the way and armed you with their solutions, here are a few extra tips to seal the deal:
Fun Tip #1
For a few weeks before the wedding, abstain. This is a popular one that not many people keep up. But it’s worth the restraint, especially if it is accompanied by tip #2.
Fun Tip #2
During those few weeks, create a mood of hot anticipation. Flirt. Tease. Send suggestive texts and photos. Arousal always begins in the mind.
Fun Tip #3
Talk about sex stories with your friends before the wedding. This will take you back to your teenage years and will add to that anticipation.
Fun Tip #4
Build your partner’s confidence leading up to the wedding night. For a few days, compliment him or her on looks, strength, sexiness, intelligence, talent, taste and any other trait you authentically admire about them. Key word here is: authentic. Fake compliments are a huge turn-off.
Fun Tip #5
Don’t forget to wine and dine and keep up date night. Set the tone of your marriage by making sure you don’t throw romance out the window the moment life gets busy. And during date night, dress up, try new places, spice up your conversations and don’t talk about the planning or the marriage. Pretend you’re back on your first few dates.
Fun Tip #6
When was the last time you kissed your lover just for the sake of really kissing? Do it. Kiss deeply, kiss passionately, kiss playfully. Don’t make kissing just a bridge between no-sex and sex.
Fun Tip #7
Pick a day during your preparation phase to walk down memory-lane together. Dig up your old courtship emails, texts and photos. Talk about your memories of your first dates, your first kisses and what you thought about when you first met. Again, this is all about recreating that thrill and passion.
Fun Tip #8
On your wedding night, take it slow. If you’ve been abstaining you’ll probably want to get right to it as soon as you get to your room. But don’t rush. You want to feel every feeling. Be present. Fully embody every moment. Relish in your reawakened lust. This is the night you’ve been dreaming of with the love of your life.
Fun Tip #9
There are certain traditions that are actually really sweet. Like carrying the bride over the threshold, or not letting the groom see the gown till the wedding. Though they may have superstitious roots, they also contribute to the feelings of magic, excitement and new beginnings. Don’t shun them just because they are traditions, try what you like and leave the rest.
Fun Tip #10
Sleep naked. You never know when the mood might hit again; early morning sex, middle-of-the-night sex, a little touching and warmth throughout the night. Don’t you just miss that?
Of course, we understand that on the day of, it might be too much to ask you to remember all of this. So if there’s just one take-away, it’s this: breathe.
So let’s take a walk through a little scenario that you might want to prepare yourself for…
Your best friend is getting married today. He picked you to be one of his groomsmen, or maybe you’re the best man. You helped him with things like choosing a tux, getting the other groomsmen organized, pulling off that crazy bachelor party and preparing a funny yet touching wedding speech.
You know, back in 5th grade all this seemed sooo much easier. You just threw some gum in her hair…or made fun of her glasses… or put a live frog from the science room into her backpack. And voila! Just like that, you had brilliantly and eloquently professed your undying love to your secret crush. Now, however, “what to say” and “how to say it” have never been so daunting. You may have known you wanted to spend the rest of your life with this girl since you first laid eyes on her… but asking her to spend the rest of her life with you has got you absolutely terrified. First of all, breathe. If you’ve been together long enough to know she loves you, and you definitely love her (hence all the nerves and longing for the days of science class frogs), the rest just requires some thinking, a plan, and, oh yeah…a ring.
Figure out your budget – Yes, you love her. You’d love to give her a rock so big and shiny she could ice skate on it. But let’s be real. You have a definite budget. While there’s no “right amount” to spend on an engagement ring, the good news is that you can purchase a ring on a payment plan (not a credit card) these days, which lets you get a little more bang out of your buck. If you do plan on paying in full though, you will need to determine how long you will need to gather the necessary funds, then plan the proposal date around that.
Find the ring – First, you need to know a little something about your girlfriend’s taste in jewelry (please tell us you pay attention at least a little bit?) If you’re drawing a blank, take a look at what she wears every day, or what she wears when she goes out. Every day jewelry is a good indicator of her preference of style. If she doesn’t wear much every day jewelry, “going out” jewelry will give you the “maximum-bling factor” (do not pick out a ring that has more bling than what she opts for when she’s really dressed up).
Once you have a handle on the style she’d like, it’s time to get down to specifics. If you’ve heard of “the 4 C’s of diamond rings” before, you’re ahead of the game (even if you think the C’s stand for “confused,” “clueless,” “crazed,” and “crying when you see the price”). They actually stand for cut, clarity, carat, and color of the diamond. Your budget will determine most of these, but there are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Picking out a diamond and a setting separately will help you have more control over what you’re spending your money on. For instance, platinum is nice, but it’s also the most expensive. Why pay extra there, when 14 KT white gold will be just as comparable in terms of looks and quality?
- For the most part, the “clarity” will determine the price of the diamond. Here, you can consider a diamond with slight inclusions (inclusions = “flaws”). Honestly, most inclusions can only be seen with a magnification of 10x, so unless your girlfriend is one of those “I’m going to get this under a magnifying glass ASAP” types, you should be okay choosing a diamond slightly lower on the clarity scale (which will translate into slightly more on the carat size, which, in turn, might make your girlfriend happy).
- Consider a reputable online retailer. Yes, a bricks-and-mortar retailer is great, since it allows you to actually go and see the ring/diamond/setting in person. But the online retailer doesn’t have that overhead, so you may be able to find a better deal.
If, on the other hand, you and your girl have already discussed rings, or gone ring shopping…well…1) you’re lucky to not have the pressure of picking a “forever” ring resting solely on your shoulders, and 2) you just wasted 2 minutes of your life reading this section (which makes all the guys who do have the pressure of picking a “forever” ring resting solely on their shoulders a just a wee bit happier).
Find out her ring size – Here begins your subterfuge (if it makes you feel better, you can don a well-tailored suit, pour a dry martini, shaken not stirred, and play the James Bond theme on a loop). Sure, you can buy the ring and worry about sizing it after the question is popped, but, to score extra “my guy is the most amazing guy ever” points, have the ring perfectly sized beforehand. You can take one of her rings to a jeweler and they can size it. But, she might notice it missing, so you can request a sizer from a jeweler and have them send it so you can size one of her rings yourself. Or you can also consider asking her BFF or mom if they know her ring size…but then that will bring more people into the plot too soon, which might not be great for this whole “subterfuge” thing.
Buy the ring (and keep it secret) – Part 2 of the subterfuge. If you don’t share accounts with your girlfriend, then you don’t have many worries here. She’ll be none-the-wiser to a withdrawal of a few thousand bucks. However, if you do share accounts, this might get tricky. Once you’ve made the decision to take the plunge, you can set up a separate checking/savings “ring” account without her name on it, that way there will be no paper trail. If you buy the ring on a credit card and you’re living together, make sure she doesn’t open your mail. If she does open your mail…don’t buy the ring on a credit card (duh). And once you have the ring, make sure to hide it in a safe, girlfriend-proof area. Safety deposit box? Your parents’ house? Buried in the back yard? The possibilities are endless…just don’t make the hiding place so good that even you will forget where it is in a few months.
Ask permission – This is where the subterfuge gets tricky. Yes, the more people who know, the greater the chance she will find out before this particular stew has come to full boil, but, if your girlfriend’s father means a great deal to her, you know what needs to be done. On the plus side, most dads will keep the secret, as long as you plan to propose within a reasonable amount of time. You tell them you plan to propose in two years, well, there might just be an expiration date on their silence. Your situation is a bit trickier if your girlfriend no longer has her father, or if the relationship is strained. Good news is that these days, it’s acceptable to ask one, either, or both parents. And if none of these are options, you could consider asking another close relative.
Pick your words – If you’re the “winging it” kind of guy, more power to you. But, by in large, this is not really the best time to “wing it.” She’s going to remember this moment forever. She’s going to relive it. She’s going to tell her friends and family. Given all that, you might wanna jot some words down. It’s not a test, so relax. You love her...so tell her that. Tell her why you love her. Tell her why you want to spend the rest of your life with her. And then, ask her to marry you. It’s not a proposal without those words, so say them.
Pick a spot – There are so many possible options here, it might be a little overwhelming. But again, just relax, and think about each:
- A place that’s meaningful to her, or to both of you. It could be where you met, where you went on your first date, or her favorite place to go and spend time.
- A quiet evening at home, candles, with a special dinner cooked by you.
- In front of family and/or friends
- Romantic restaurant…but be sure to do it early in the meal, before you both get stuffed to Willy Wonka/Violet Beauregarde proportions and can only thinking about going home and lying down until sometime next week.
- Walk along the beach…just be sure not to drop it into the sea/sand/a rock crevasse filled with seaweed and eels.
- Hot-air balloon ride…again…DO NOT DROP IT.
- A romantic weekend away. A proposal would knock this little getaway out of the park, but unless the getaway was already planned, involving it into the proposal does add a lot to the budget.
DO NOT DO THESE:
- Propose on a Jumbotron at a sports event
- Tie the ring to an animal
- Drop the ring into food/drink (hello…choking hazard?)
- Involve the proposal with a prank in any way, shape, or form (even if Practical Jokers is her favorite show)
Kneel down, you fool! – Okay. It all comes down to this. This question. This moment. No pressure at all then, right? Seriously though… she is the love of your life… the ONE. You have the ring, you’re at the perfect spot, you know what you’re going to say (more or less)… so, when the moment comes…do it right. Get down on one knee, look up into her eyes, take her hand (or hold the ring), and ask her to marry you. (Trust us, you will be able to live off the “most amazing and romantic guy in the history of amazing and romantic guys” points you earn here for months!)