There are countless websites that an engaged couple can visit when searching for a wedding planner. There are apps, magazines, blogs, and then there are planners and there are "planners." In my experience, it isn't always easy to tell which is which, but with a little guidance, you will now be able to tell the difference before you even set up a consultation.
Let's start with: the consultation. Planners get emailed every single day from prospective clients that are simply price shopping. Emails typically say nothing more than "Please send me your pricing and packages." These emails infrequently include the date or potential wedding date, and even less frequently, include a phone number to reach the couple at. If you send an email like this and get a response including a price, you have encountered a "Planner."
Planners do not send blanket prices to potential couples, and very few will have them published on their websites. Most planners offer "a la carte" services and will put together a package based on the needs of their couples. The only number that a planner might be able to give you would be a starting point. Some are even hesitant to give that out, because couples will try and use that number even if it doesn't apply to the type of package that they need designed.
If a Planner can give you a quote without a consultation, then run. Yes, consultations take time, but they are essential before giving out an accurate quote. A real Planner needs to get to know the couple, get an idea of what they want, and more importantly, find out if you all "click." Why would anyone want to work with someone they don't "click" with? Take the time to interview with prospective Planners, especially the ones that refuse to quote you via email.
When you meet with a Planner, it's important to have a general idea of what your budget looks like. This isn't because they are trying to figure out how much to charge you, but so that they can be honest about your expectations for your wedding day. A Planner that makes promises to you about what they can make happen without you giving them a budget is not someone you want to work with. While it's nice to hear "yes, that can be done," sometimes "no" is actually the answer. A seasoned Planner will tell you if you need to adjust what you want, whereas a "Planner" will just say "yes" and "of course" all of the time.
Make sure to ask the Planner how long they have been in business, and other detailed questions. Did they work for another Planner first? Did they just start planning after they had their own wedding? While everyone has to start somewhere, you don't want to bring on a Planner who's only experience is planning their own wedding. Look for one that has worked for another company (or still is) and has real experience.
Speaking of real experience, make sure that you are meeting with Planners with real websites and real email addresses. It's important that a Planner showcases their work outside of social media and having a website versus just a Facebook page, is a sign of a professional. Their email address should also include their business names and not be from any popular accounts such as hotmail, gmail, yahoo, etc. Bonus points if the Planner has an office for you to meet them in. These are all signs that the Planner is serious, seasoned and one to consider.
The last thing to consider is price. There are countless Planners that market themselves as "budget friendly" and "affordable." While that's great to hear, it isn't necessarily what you want in a Planner. A Planner pays for herself with the discounts you will receive from their preferred vendors and the money saving tips they will always have. Obviously, not everyone can afford a full service Planner, so consider saving some money and hiring a "day of" coordinator instead. But beware, the statement "you get what you pay for" might be something you hear in your head if the Planner isn't doing what you thought the would be doing.
With the wedding market being super saturated, sometimes it is difficult to tell the good vendors from the not so good ones. Take your time and follow these tips to make sure that you hire the best Planner for your needs.