We actually did have internet back in the ’90s, and in the ’80s we had a proto-internet through bulletin boards. There was not nearly as much information on it as there is now, but you could find common interest groups with a bit of networking.
Now, back in the fifties when my siblings were getting married, or in the sixties when my girlfriends were getting married, it really was a different world.
For one thing, nearly everyone belonged to a church. So you didn’t need to hunt around for a ceremony “venue” and officiant: you got married either at church, or at your parents’ home, and in either case it was performed by the pastor. Even atheists typically had the pastor of the closest religious relative, offered up with pleas to “at least don’t talk to him about it, for heaven’s sake!”.
For another thing, the “back to the kitchen” movement was at its peak, and most women were throwing all the energy that they would normally have thrown into their work, into their clubs, or the Ladies’ Auxiliary at their church, or into entertaining. Remember, it wasn’t the brides planning those weddings, it was their very experienced mothers. In urban centres, those mothers had caterers that they — or their club executive, or the ladies who ran the altar guild — had dealt with previously. In rural centres, most weddings were catered by the church ladies themselves. Hostesses didn’t need “tastings” because they had already tested out which caterers to use (or which large-scale dishes they could produce themselves) twenty years past when they held their first formal party.
Entertaining wasn’t the only skill ladies expended their energies acquiring. Wedding cakes were very typically baked by a member of the family, and in some cases even iced and decorated at home, although if no-one had that skill they might engage a professional to decorate the cake that had been made to Grandma’s secret wedding-cake recipe. Wedding cakes (outside of the U.S. at least) were typically fruit-cake with royal icing: fondant was the untraditional new-fangled innovation that butter-cream was a few years ago.
And many ladies could sew admirably, or at least knew dressmakers, so relatively more dresses were made for the occasion. My Auntie V. made my sister’s dress largely inspired by newspaper coverage of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding, and my (now-ex-) sister-in-law made her own. In fact, thinking about it, I don’t know anyone in my generation or the next who actually had to resort to an off-the-rack dress.
And lastly, weddings were much more about a substantial change in life circumstances for the bride and groom, and much less about a once in a lifetime chance to be the centre of attention. Over-the-top celebrity weddings were not on the front page of every check-out stand magazines because weddings, even the weddings of Hollywood starlets, were still treated even by the press as a personal and religious event. So weddings with two-hundred-plus guests were very much the exception: your pretty much invited the people from her, and the groom’s mother’s social circles, and only intimate family members bothered to travel to the wedding, which was very commonly celebrated only with an afternoon cake-and-punch or luncheon reception. Girls didn’t worry about whether their wedding was “cookie-cutter” — they were too busy worrying about whether they would be able to actually live with a man and actually run a household. They focussed on preparing to bring their personal style and creativity to their “new” job of being a home-maker.