My name is Barbara Esses and I do events for a living. I'm Ruthie Hecht; I'm an event planner and I work with and for my mother. We're going to teach you the do's and don'ts for the perfect wedding.
A wedding planner should be there start to finish, they should help you choose venues that are within your budget and your style. They should be there through all your meetings, going through contracts and making sure that anything sent to you is right, you shouldn't get 10 pieces of paperwork, that's their job. You can definitely call for references to other brides of course they'll give you glowing recommendations otherwise they wouldn't be their references, but make sure to ask specific questions, was she helpful on your wedding day? Did she come to your flower meeting with you? Did she have creative ideas when you were deciding the menu?
Wedding planners travel absolutely everywhere, so you can hire someone from New York, Los Angeles, even Paris. If you're looking for somebody local, ask your local wedding venue, they might have ideas of who does the most beautiful events. If for any reason over the course of planning your wedding, you decide you've hired the wrong wedding planner, get rid of them. Wedding planning should be fun, they should take the stress out of it and you should enjoy every moment, but of course when there are stressful times, they should be there for you and help you through it, they're not there just to choose your menu, they should be there to help you deal with your family as well. On the day of your wedding day you're not looking to deal with setup, you want to get dressed, be an absolutely beautiful bride, and take the best pictures and get pictures and get married. The wedding planner should be there from the very beginning of the day through the end of the night making sure that everything goes perfectly. Sometimes you might even feel at the end of the wedding that your wedding planner is your new best friend, that's a very good sign.