Modern weddings are full of traditions that trace back thousands of years, from brides wearing white to the bouquet toss and beyond. While many of these marriage rituals focus on the big day, there are just as many dedicated to the bedroom. That's much more interesting and fun, right? (Wrong. Oh, so very wrong.)
Love may be universal, but how newlyweds historically spent their first night making love varied by culture, nation and era. Here are some of the most, er, interesting wedding night traditions from across the world. Commence consummation!
1. Strike Up the Band
Couples in France weren’t the only ones making noise on their wedding night. In some communities, friends and family of newlyweds would serenade (i.e., scream) outside the bridal suite while banging on pots and pans. They ceased their racket only when were offered food and drink from the couple — a folk tradition known as charivari, meaning “loud music.” Conjugal bliss? More like conjugal les mis.
2. Two’s Company, Ten’s a Crowd
“Bedding rituals” are ceremonies in which newlyweds are put to bed together and toasted by their attendants; in some cultures, the bed is blessed by a religious leader. They were common in 18th-century Europe. Here's where it gets weird: A more intimate, inner circle of guests often stayed to witness the dirty act to confirm the marriage was officially consummated, and therefore legal.
This wasn’t exclusive to royalty — commoners (and their friends, neighbors, pets…) wanted to get in on the action too, participating in bedding practices of their own as a sign of community blessing.
3. Home on the Range
You might have visions of an ornate honeymoon suite complete with luxurious bed and Egyptian cotton sheets for your first night of ever after… Unless you tied the (tartan) knot in Mull, Scotland. It was Celtic tradition for couples to sleep in a barn for their wedding night. To that we say hell neigh.
No Soup for You
From the same people who brought us the bidet comes a very interesting wedding tradition: In France, some bridal parties filled a chamber pot with a “soup” made from leftover libations and food scraps from the wedding reception — purportedly meant to fuel the couple for an active night ahead. Then, they’d burst into the honeymoon suite and force the newlyweds to drink the crude concoction. Today, the soup is typically replaced with champagne or chocolate fondue… But it's still served in a toilet bowl. Bon appétit!
5. An Extra Cheesy Tradition
According to another Scottish folklore, the bride and groom would bring a pound of Limburger cheese to their wedding bed, smear it between two towels and place it under pillows for good fortune and fertility. We hope crackers — and noseclips — were eventually worked into the ritual.
6. Very Involved In-Laws
In some small, African villages, a respected elder — usually a prominent matriarch in the community, although often the bride’s own mother — reportedly accompanies new couples to their wedding bed to assist the virgin bride in learning the romping ropes. And you thought your mother-in-law was overbearing.
7. Another Toilet Tradition
While the French are given a toilet to drink from, it is completely taken away from couples from the small Tidong community in Indonesia and Malaysia. To prevent bad luck in marriage, traditional custom requires newlyweds to refrain from using the bathroom for three full days. They are not permitted to leave their homes, and only offered minimal food and drink.