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Whether you're planning a wedding on a tropical island or getting married in your own backyard, here are a few things you can do to make sure your wedding planner is really the cream of the crop (or at least who he or she says she is!).
View their portfolio
First things first, log online and check out the planner's website. "A good one will have lots of pictures of past events and even more on a blog," says Charleston-based wedding planner Francesca DiSalvo-Follmer of Pure Luxe Bride. "Usually their best work is on their 'gallery', but they post everything to a blog so it will help give you a better range of their work, not just their favorites," she points out.
Read reviews on multiple sites
Not just the planner's own website! DiSalvo-Follmer recommends looking at Wedding Wire and Yelp. "These are the best places to find brides who are sharing their past experiences," she says.
Schedule a call
Someone could have the best website and SEO in the world, but as DiSalvo-Follmer notes, they could be the worst planner on the planet. "Have a call or Skype to feel out his or her personality and ask any questions you might have."
Find out if they're full or part time
Many times, there are 'part-time' planners that simply don't have enough hours in a day to devote to your wedding as someone who is full time would, warns DiSalvo-Follmer. If you're only searching for a part-time planner, however, then this scenario might be ideal for you.
Set up a time to talk to their client references
With the Internet making it possible for practically anybody to be a catfish, destination wedding planner Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques, suggests actually setting up a time to speak with a potential wedding planner's client references. "Don't just believe what you read online, as testimonials can be faked," she notes. "By asking detailed questions and requesting pictures sent directly by the client, you can feel more secure about who you hire."
Ask your venue
Chances are, they've worked with the particular planner you're considering and can give you honest feedback on the person and any other advice, says DiSalvo-Follmer.
Get vendor references
Like your venue, other potential vendors (such as a caterer, photographer, videographer, etc.) will probably be able to offer you some insight. "Scope out the vendors and decide who looks like the most experienced or seasoned professional to ask for a referral to that wedding planner," advises Malone. "Real wedding planners have vendors who can talk about them extensively because they've executed events together. If the vendors in the area don't know them, you've got a newbie." (Of course, that isn't always a bad thing.)
Don't just trust a certificate alone
While there are many certified wedding planners who are in fact legit, unfortunately there are just as many who aren't as well. "These days, having a wedding planner 'certification' means nothing at all," claims Malone. "Half of these people are paying $30 on Groupon for an online planning course that gives them a piece of paper to wave as their credible reference." So note to self: be careful!