The History of Wedding Magazines

Stacked magazines and camera
December 07, 2021

Weddings have been around in some form since the beginning of time. While brides were featured on the cover of plenty of magazines, a publication dedicated to wedding planning didn’t appear on newsstands until the 1930s. As the bridal industry evolved—and trends came and went—couples relied on these mags to help them plan their perfect day. Learn more about the history of wedding magazines and how they changed the industry forever! 

The Launch of Brides

Founded by Wells Drorbaugh in 1934, Brides was the first publication focused on the wedding industry. The first issue—created in the home of the first editor, Agnes Foster Wright—was called So You’re Going to Be Married and was given away for free to a small readership in the northeastern United States before making its transition to the newsstands.

Brides, which found a bigger publisher with Conde Nast, was a game-changer not only for the publishing industry but for the wedding market as well. Its pages helped define what was needed for couples planning their big day and what was considered “bridal.” In fact, the publication even started hosting annual bridal business clinics for department stores, helping them open their own wedding departments and gift registries.

first magazine covers of bride magazines featuring two brides holding bouquets
Photos courtesy of Brides

Competition Arrives in 1949

Modern Bride arrived on newsstands following a similar format as Brides and proving to have staying power. The magazine shifted its focus in 1977 to cater to the more “mature” (aka older) bride, and in 2002, Conde Nast bought Modern Bride from Primedia for $52 million.

First magazine covers of Modern Bride
Photos courtesy of Modern Bride

A Busy Time for Bridal Magazines

The late 1980s and 1990s were a busy time for the bridal magazine industry, with a bevy of new publications making their debut, including Premier Bride, Elegant Bride, and Bridal Guide. Many publishing houses also decided to focus on regional wedding magazines to target couples getting married in a specific location.

In 1994, the ultimate hostess, Martha Stewart, decided to take on the bridal market with Martha Stewart Weddings. While in 1998, Black Bride became the first on and offline multi-cultural global company serving all brides of color.

Martha Stewart and Black Bride
Photos courtesy of Martha Stewart & Black Bride

The Arrival of Real Weddings

In 2002, Inside Weddings launched and became the first U.S. publication to feature real weddings and provide readers with all vendor information to help brides plan their own wedding. This inspired the rest of the industry to showcase more real weddings and styled shoots. 

Inside magazine first real wedding covers
Photos courtesy of Inside Weddings

The Internet Emerges

The Knot started out in 1996 as an online site that both offered couples wedding planning tips and advice, as well as an interactive section that actually helped them through the various parts of the planning process, including budgeting, finding local vendors, and setting up the wedding registry and website. In 2000, the company launched a print magazine that was originally published semiannually. Nine years later, The Knot announced that it would now be publishing its magazine quarterly. 

With the rise of digital publications, every current bridal magazine on newsstands also has an online presence. Some print publications have fully transitioned to digital, including Brides, which was acquired by DotDash in 2019, as well as Martha Stewart Weddings. Unfortunately, Elegant Bride and Modern Bride have shut down. "The bridal space is reinventing itself," Rachel Leonard, editorial director of The Bridal Council, told Fashionista in 2018. "There's less print, more dot-com. Magazines are more focused on digital because that's where modern couples are today." Although we're in a digital world, print is making a comeback as younger generations crave vintage experiences. In 2013, Aisle Planner was founded as a leading all-in-one suite of planning tools, and The Aisle Guide was launched later to provide dreamy inspiration for all couples. As an industry and digital expert, we're expanding our avenues and bringing you more exciting content in the new year!

The Knot magazine covers featuring a Black bride and plus size bride
Photos courtesy of The Knot

About the Author

Aisle Planner Editorial Team
Aisle Planner Editorial Team
The Aisle Planner Editorial Team is a collective of creative writers, editors, and former event pros who obsess over weddings and special events—and the businesses behind them! Drawn to refined details, design, and creativity, our team provides intelligent and straightforward articles with insights, practical tips, and expert guidance in putting Aisle Planner's "Power of One" behind your business.