If you're planning your wedding and have been looking into retaining the services of a wedding planner, you've probably realized that it's difficult to differentiate between a true, independent wedding planner and a wedding planner who works for or has ties to a wedding services vendor. Today, florists, caterers, and reception halls all claim to offer wedding planner services. And although they do provide some wedding planning services, they aren't independent and are usually trying to sell their employer's services. Search for a professional independent wedding planner who will see to your every need, from the planning process to the last dance. Your wedding planner should interview you and your groom in depth to gain a full understanding of your vision for your wedding.
Your wedding planner should then offer you vendor choices based on your vision and set up and attend vendor interviews with you. The wedding planner should also objectively evaluate vendor contracts and provide you with expert advice so that you can make informed decisions. It's important that your wedding planner remain in touch with you and your vendors while you're planning your wedding, and then oversee the services as they are delivered. Your wedding planner should be prepared to do everything necessary to make sure your wedding runs smoothly, and shouldn't be afraid to take on basic tasks the day of the wedding. When you interview wedding planners, make sure to ask them about their level of experience. You should look for a planner who has a wide variety of experience and avoid a planner whose only experience is her own wedding.
Ask potential wedding planners how much they charge for their services. You'll find that some planners charge by the hour, some do an estimate of the time your wedding will require, some charge a flat fee, and still others work on a percentage of your wedding budget basis. Make sure you know what free wedding planner services are included in their fees. Don't be afraid to ask potential wedding planners if they accept referral fees from vendors. The wedding planner you select should not accept referral fees because she will be tempted to pressure you to use a vendor she gets the best fee from rather than a vendor that might do the best job for you.
Also find out what each wedding planner's procedure will be on the day of your wedding. You should look for a wedding planner who will stay with you throughout the ceremony and reception to coordinate your special dances, and cake cutting, and make sure everything runs smoothly. Ask potential wedding planners what their contingency plans are if they are unable to perform their services on your wedding day.
Also ask them how many weddings they coordinate per day. You want to make sure you will have their full attention on your wedding day. Finally, find out what other services the wedding planners offer, such as invitations and accessories; ask them how they keep records; and request at least three references, including at last one vendor reference. Most consultants will provide you with a free initial consultation, which can be the best way to learn more about their services and allow you to determine whether or not you can work together effectively. The main point to remember when hiring a wedding planner is that you want to make sure to work with someone who thinks of you first and is determined to make your wedding day the best it can possibly be.
For more valuable wedding planning tips, check out Joan Yankowitz' free "How to Save Thousands on Your Wedding" Kwik Guide.