Dr. Alan Viau

The Crucial 30 Minutes Before the Wedding

By Rev. Alan Viau

There is a lot of excitement building up to the wedding day. The frenetic pace and stress of planning are about to culminate. The wedding ceremony is the beginning of the festivities. The 30 minutes before the ceremony begins is when it all comes together or… needs adjustments.

Wedding planners tell me that it takes about 250 hours to plan a wedding. That is like having a part-time job for a year. There are lists and choices to be made. Discussions and perhaps heated ones about those choices. Planning a wedding tries the metal of a relationship.

I find that couples feel that the ceremony is the most stressful part of their big day. It is understandable. Most people have organized a party before. A reception is just a bigger party. However, they have not planned a wedding ceremony. If they come to me, the ceremony is usually at the same location as the reception. Therefore the wedding ceremony is a pre-reception event that takes planning as well. There is additional stress because much of the planning falls on the couple’s shoulders instead of showing up at a church and doing what they say.

All this to say that when I meet up with the bride and groom about 30 minutes before the ceremony – they are at the height of their stress. In that time, I see all sorts of behavior – from calm/cool/collected to the ultimate bridezilla (and sometimes groomzilla too).


The brides and grooms who are calm are the ones who have everything planned out and implemented. Often they have a person designated for the day to take care of the details. This could be a wedding planner or a friend. Another characteristic of these couples is that they ‘let go’ of the little things – they also ‘let go’ of themselves to enjoy the day. You find these brides and grooms really being in the moment with their bridesmaids and grooms just before the ceremony – perhaps have a last toast with friends.


Sometimes the events get off the rails. One poor bride this summer, got to the Wakefield venue, Le Belevedere, only to realize that her wedding dress had been left behind at home in Orleans – a one hour drive away. She was very upset, of course. The dress arrived 10 minutes before the scheduled start of the ceremony.

At this point, what the bride needs is flexibility and understanding from her vendors. All of us – the venue, photographer and me – told her to take the time she needed to settle and get ready. The ceremony started 1 hour and 15 minutes past the scheduled time. But that didn’t matter because she was now able to enjoy her day. I received a nice note from her later acknowledging and appreciating this indulgence.

The 30 minutes before the ceremony begins is the crucial time for the unfolding of the day’s events. Planning and ‘letting go’ are great ways to ensure you have a great time. However, sometimes flexibility is needed to put events back on track when they are derailed.

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