If you watched "Father of the Bride" with Steve Martin, the wedding planner played by Martin Short was a hilarious interpretation of a job that many now consider serious business. "Frahnk" (or Frank), as he was called, flitted about managing all of the details of the elaborate wedding. But, a real wedding consultant or planner can be an invaluable tool in making your special day a real joy instead of a real headache. Some people opt for a wedding planner in book form which outlines all of the necessary tasks to plan a wedding and gives you a timeline, but it will not do any of the jobs for you. A wedding planner can take care of all of the legwork for you so that you can go on with your work, school and other responsibility.

How do you shop for a wedding planner? Just as you should do when you look for any type of service professional, you can ask friends and family for recommendations. If you can get a word-of-mouth referral, this is better than all of the advertisements and glowing referrals provided to you by the wedding planner. If you don't know anyone who has used a planner, you can always look in the phone book or the classifieds in the newspaper.

Once you have a few potential leads you will need to interview the wedding planner candidates. You are hiring them for an important job, and you need to have confidence that they share your "vision" for your special day. See how willing they are to take suggestions and see what they will do with the ideas that you already have. Do they have doubts about their ability to fulfill your needs? This is a yellow flag, but see why they have concerns before you make a judgment. Once you have interviewed a few planners you are ready to make your decision and get to work.

Most wedding consultants charge a fee of around 10 percent of the cost of the wedding. This is standard-and it is worth it for the peace of mind it will give you.