We've said it time and again, wedding planning is exponentially easier when you're surrounded by a group of vendors you trust (and get along with!). But finding those vendors? Not so easy, especially when it comes to choosing a wedding planner. You want to find someone who not only makes your life easier, but also brings a lot to the table in terms of creativity, resources, and vision. Oh, and that's all before you find out if the two of you will get along!
So where's a bride to start? We got Virginia Edelson, owner, founder, and principal planner of Bluebird Aspen, to share some insider tips on how to start your search for a wedding planner, and how to narrow it down to the one who's right for you.
"Planners speak with prospective clients all the time (thankfully!). Some clients are a fit for us, others are not. Doing the necessary research before hiring a planner is incredibly important, especially since they'll likely be the one giving you vendor recommendations going forward, so you want to make sure they're a solid choice," says Edelson. Here's where she suggests you start.
Google, Google, Google! (and Instagram, Instagram, Instagram!)
Look at planners in the area where you're getting married and familiarize yourself with their website, their reviews on sites like WeddingWire, and their press (both where they've been published and what publications are saying about them). Says Edelson, "The more you get to know them through their online presence, the better sense you'll have of whether they have the ability to execute the event you're hoping for."
Talk to your venue and vendors
Whether you've already signed a contract or are still interviewing potential vendors, ask to see who is on their vendor recommendation list. "Ask for specifics about why they recommend one planner versus another," says Edelson. "Ask them about their working relationship with the planner, whether they're detailed or scattered, organized or pulling things together at the last minute. The goal is to assemble a team of vendors and a planner who have a great working relationship." These conversations are extra important because, while a gorgeous lookbook and expertly-curated Instagram feed will show that a planner has a great sense of style, only past clients or other vendors can let you know what the planning process is like. If other vendors feel like a planner's events run just as beautifully as they look, you're in luck!
Ask your friends
If you're planning a wedding in your hometown or a location where you've celebrated with a friend, ask around! "Find out who they interviewed, who they did or didn't like, and why," says Edelson. "This will help you figure out where to start your own search." A friend will also be able to let you know what her experience was with her planner, and whether the planner's working style might be a match for you.
Interview several options
Edelson advises starting out by comparing the services different planners offer to narrow down the services you do and don't want, and what packages are available. "Set up an in-person meeting whenever you can, or schedule a phone or Skype call," says Edelson. "This is a great opportunity to get to know your planner as both a person and a professional." Ask about why they got into the industry and what their favorite types of weddings to plan are. Find out what types of common ground you share, both regarding the wedding you're hoping to have and in your personal lives. And get a feel for how they work and communicate. Do they instill a sense of confidence and excitement? Are they easy to talk to? Do they listen to you? All of these things will come in handy down the line, whether you've stumbled upon an amazing new idea or are having a moment of bridal stress. The interview is also the time to get more specifics about different service options, including whether you'll be working with a single person or a team, if your planner will be the founder or one of their associates, how quickly you can expect a response, and how accessible they will (or won't) be to you during the process.
Once you've done your research, asked around, and interviewed a few different options, weigh all the pro's and con's to find your best fit. You might be surprised by what you've found out, so go with your gut. Remember that personality and working style are just as important as a planner's aesthetic — you will be spending the next several possibly stressful months with them, so pick someone who really gets you and your wants and needs.