5. “I could actually help you save money.”

Saving money on a big event isn’t easy without looking like you’ve skimped. That’s where planners can come in. Nicole Parks won a contest to have her wedding on a tall ship in New Jersey, but she still had to pay for the reception. She says her planner, Benson, helped her save on centerpieces, which she rented from Benson rather than having them made. Benson also found her a deal on a groom’s cake and got flowers donated. “She saved me a lot of money,” says Parks.

Planners know which vendors offer the best prices, and they know how to negotiate a good deal. For example, venue operators are often willing to negotiate price, since so many of their costs are fixed. Planners can also help you save by using vendors that bundle services, like a venue that offers catering, and helping you allocate your budget. Lyons tells clients to forgo expensive accessories and spend on lighting, which is cheaper, since it has a big impact. With good lighting, no one will think twice about where the fancy linens or centerpieces went, she says.

6. “Chemistry is everything.”

People start planning weddings a year or more in advance, so if you’re using a planner, you’re going to be seeing an awful lot of that person. Couples should be smart about whom they choose. For starters, she needs to be able to listen. “If you meet a planner, and they talk 99 percent of the time, that is not the right person,” Benson says.

Couples should take time to shop around, reading reviews online and checking references. How well did the planner
get what the client wanted and execute that vision? A great planner is someone who can turn clients’ ideas into reality, not mold them to her own tastes. Another key measure, says DeAngelo, is how smoothly events run and how the planner handles problems. Bottom line:
If it just doesn’t feel right, keep looking.

7. “The Internet is your friend, not mine.”

When Roopa Kalyanaraman Marcello got engaged, the 31-year-old New Yorker knew she wanted to plan her own wedding. “I have pretty particular tastes, and I wanted full control,” she says. She became a devoted reader of wedding blogs like Brooklyn Bride and Weddingbee.com, where she found cool ways to do her invitations and table numbers. When it came time to look for a venue, caterer and DJ, she turned to online forums, mostly on Indiebride.com, for reviews of vendors and to connect with other brides, who
e-mailed her about their experiences. “Thanks to all of the online resources, I could pull it off myself,” says Kalyanaraman Marcello.

It’s no surprise wedding planners aren’t exactly fans of sites like The Knot, Indiebride and Weddingforums.com, where couples can sometimes get bad information and develop overblown expectations of what a planner can deliver. In fact, for some brides, planners may get cut out of the picture completely.