When a bride gets engaged, the fun starts. and I mean "fun" in a very sarcastic way.
Planning a wedding can be stressful, especially because it's probably the biggest event that you've ever planned, and you'll be paying for services that you've never had to shop for before.
So many of my clients start out the conversation by saying "I've never shopped for a wedding cake before." They could just substitute most of the other categories of wedding services for the word "cake" and it would still be true.
So how do you decide who to hire when you have nothing to base the decision on?
Use your network.
You probably have people who you know who have gotten married recently. Ask them who you should hire.
When you start interviewing professionals, ask them who you should hire.
Call the Better Business Bureau, and see who they say you should hire.
Eventually the same names will start coming up, and you'll know who to look for.
Wedding professionals are good sources for referrals, and we can often help you by having an "in" with other pros. I book up my calendar once I get two cakes on the books for any given date. If I get a call from another pro who I've worked with, though, and they have a client who wants to hire me for that booked-up date, I'll make an effort to fit them in.
This is one situation where name-dropping works. Wedding pros tend to try to help out other pros who we know. If you can hire a business as the result of them knowing someone who refers you, use that to your advantage.
One caveat is that you should take advice from people who you know, and whose opinions you trust. Going online and getting advice from strangers can be a dicey proposition. It might work out and it might not, so buyer beware.
If you look around, you'll probably be surprised that your wedding network is bigger than you think. Let it work to your advantage and you'll have a better chance of hiring the professionals you really want for your event.