The necessity for all this hullabaloo was explained as keeping bad luck away from all that happiness that the couple had acquired in finding each other. But everyone knew it was all meant to aggravate and frustrate the newly married couple. It has been suggested that Henry V111 was never quite as potent on his honeymoon as he could have been because of the lack of privacy that went hand in hand with being a ruler. Give him an anonymous inn and a comely wench, and he was twice the man, creating little Henrys with no trouble at all.
The romantic lover understood that the fortitude of the bride in the face of the previous night’s outrage, deserved some consideration.
Waking up in the morning after a good night, the husband would hand to the object of his passion, something that would be a reminder of the experience for the rest of their life. It could be an extravagant piece of jewellery – perhaps a family heirloom worth a small fortune. Or it might be a deed to a prized piece of real estate. In any case, the generosity of a husband at such a time was legendary and not often repeated there after.
The less bashful bride would have thought deeply about it long before the wedding day, and was not beyond asking for a specific gift. At such a time it was always, “Whatever your heart desires is yours, my dear.” He might have added, as some of them did, “Ask wisely.” We’ve all seen those operas or read those myths and fairy tales where the bride would ask for a favour that eventually, and sometimes immediately, turn her life into a disaster. But if the headstrong bride didn’t know her own best interest, it was hardly the fault of her lord and master, be he a Bluebeard or a husband with a past.
Democracy and income tax has pretty well put a stop to these extravagant, and sometimes deadly gestures. Though, for all we know, perhaps the very rich and famous are still into tossing a chateaux or a directorship at their brides. But for the rest, to commemorate that first night as they should, all they need is a little bit of creativity.