Recently, I've been working on a story with a dominant who is very much into exhibitionism. His soon-to-be-submissive is completely new to not only the kink lifestyle, but sex as well. Because of this and the heroine's body image issues, I was drawn to the idea of a bedding ceremony for their first time together.
I know, a bit extreme especially for a virgin, but I kept getting flashes of scenes from old historical romances I had read. Which got me thinking and researching. Not always a good thing, but in this case, pretty helpful for the project I'm working on. Then it hit me that I could use a bit of the information I'd gleaned to write up a quick blog for Kinky Ever After.
I love how publishers and some readers are surprised by the BDSM and kink lifestyle. As if it suddenly dropped onto the planet yesterday...or whenever they picked up their first book that had the kink element in it. Dominant/submissive relationships have existed for millennia in one form or another. Even the use of sex toys has been dated as far back as the Bronze Age, I believe. So, exhibitionism is nothing new and it was, in fact, part of the wedding ceremonies of higher ranking members of society during the Medieval period. It was called the 'bedding' ceremony.
A bedding ceremony ended the festivities (the wedding feasts) of the nobles and wealthier classes. Depending on the country and the customs, the event included the female guests stripping the bride, the male guests stripping the groom, both groups tucking the pair into bed together and lots of ribald jokes and suggestions. Now, in some cases, the groom would be brought to the bride in a robe and the bride would already be tucked into bed. Other situations have the guests in the room watching the couple consummate their marriage. (Talk about performance anxiety!) Still other scenarios have the guests in the room but with the bed curtains closed, or the guests just outside the door.
No matter which way you look at it, it's exhibitionism -- public display. Somebody is watching. Seeing every touch and caress; every kiss and embrace. And the perfect beginning to the relationship between my characters.