The History of the Wedding Planner

Grace Kelly's 1956 wedding
Grace Kelly's 1956 wedding
Discover how the role of the professional wedding planner has evolved over the years.

The role of the professional wedding planner has evolved over the years. As long as men and women have been getting married, there have been people to arrange all of the details and help plan the wedding day.

Perhaps not the stylish, modern-day professional wedding planner hired by celebrities that we have become accustomed to, but rather a behind-the-scenes individual–typically a female relative or neighbor–tasked with the responsibility of arranging the wedding feast, decorating the venue, managing the guest list and sometimes even making the wedding dress all without ever expecting or receiving any compensation for her wedding planning help.

Weddings, indeed, marriages, have changed in the past 30 years or so. Back then, for example, it was a given that a bride’s parents would pay for her wedding.

The end of World War II saw the beginning of big American weddings in public places. Prior to that, weddings were relatively private and small gatherings. Then in the late 1960s and 1970s we saw the ‘natural wedding’.

DID YOU KNOW?!

…the tradition of the bride’s parents paying for their daughter’s wedding dates back to the dowry system where parents ‘reimbursed’ the groom and his family for taking on the task of supporting their daughter.

And then in 1981 the world turned it’s eyes to the wedding of all weddings.

The marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer.

Watched by millions (me included) the event set off the modern day ‘big wedding’ frenzy.

Almost overnight, weddings became the fairytale lavish productions that bridal magazines and dreams are made of. And the role of the wedding planner became more prominent.

Even so, for several years, there wasn’t a common understanding of why the everyday bride needed to hire a professional bridal consultant. Fast-forward to today and couples are marrying much later in life, have established careers and are paying for their own nuptials.

Now with the average American wedding costing $28,000, and requiring more than 15 types of wedding professionals/vendors and attended by approximately 165 wedding guests, wedding planners are no longer reserved for the rich and famous but instead have become a necessity for time-pressed couples.

The release of the 2001 romantic movie, ‘The Wedding Planner’, starring Jennifer Lopez as Mary Fiore, a dedicated professional bridal consultant, set off another wedding frenzy: wedding planning as a career!

The influx of wedding reality shows like ‘Whose Wedding is it Anyway’ and ‘Bridezilla’, keep the buzz and demand for the wedding planning business going.

6 Comments

  • Another great article about the history of wedding planners. I can remember when Princess Diana married Prince Charles because it was the most awesome event I’d ever seen. It was like looking at Cinderella in real life…I also enjoyed ‘The Wedding Planner’ and thought it was the cutest movie. Another movie, I recently viewed was ‘Bride Wars’ it was simply hilarious. I love your articles because they are thought provoking.
    Thank you Debbie!

    • Camille, that royal wedding did if for me, too. Little did I know, then, how much of an impact it would have on me! Was disappointed by JLo’s ‘Wedding Planner’ and have yet to check out ‘Bride Wars’. Thanks so much for your feedback.

  • Debbie… m student of MBA, i need ur help in sort of given ideai selected the topic wedding planner in m communication class i hav to submit anotiative bibliography on cmng tuesday sir vill u guide me when this system starts and from whear?
    thank you debbi

  • Hi there! I’m curious about when the bride became tasked with organizing the wedding. I’m convinced there was a time that her relatives took care of it. Do you know any of that history?

  • Dear Debbie,

    I was searching the internet for the history of weddingplanning and I came to your website. As I’m writing my thesis for graduating college about the factors that affect the image of wedding planners at suppliers in the Dutch wedding industry, I would like to know the history of weddingplanners.

    I would like to know where your information came from, do you have any sources for your article? Or did you just write this all by yourself? And when did you write this article? I need a date for my bibliography.

    Many thanks in advance!

    Greetings from the Netherlands 🙂

    Megan.

    • Hello Megan,

      Thanks for writing. Some of the info mentioned is from my own experience and recollection as a wedding planner. Additionally, the book ‘Brides, Inc.’ by Vicki Howard provided additional historical info about weddings in the US. Hope this helps.

      –Debbie

      Hope this helps.

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