Planning your next event doesn’t have to be a headache thanks to a group of amazing professionals, the event planners.

For most of us, event planners are a must. They are our saving graces when we are putting together an event. They are highly skilled people with contacts, experience and the ability to juggle a dozen balls without ever dropping one or losing their cool. It takes a special kind of person to succeed as an event planner, but when you hire one, you quickly discover why they are in such high demand.

When you are planning a wedding, social event or a corporate meeting and begin your search for an event planner, think of it like hiring a caterer. You want to hire a person who has expertise in creating your type of event, and fits within your budget.

You can always start your search by asking around. Much like a catering company, most people have also used an event planner, and chances are someone within your social or business circle has some references. This is a good place to start, but not always effective because of the variety and types of events that people specialize in creating. For example, an event planner who specializes in team-building exercises won’t be much help if you are planning a wedding, and vice versa.

You will generally find that event planners tend to network with each other, and if they don’t offer the services you require, they will almost always recommend another company that does. Look for a company with experience and a strong reputation within the community of event planners. Peer reputation may be a stronger indicator than references from friends.

Once you have found an event planner (or two, or three) you will want to sit down and interview them like you would with anyone else providing a service to make sure it is a good fit.

Event planners are always interested in your project, and they are always keen to share their stories of events that they have pulled off, so ask them any questions you may have about their previous events. Inquire about their business, their experience with previous events, how they prepare for contingencies. An experienced event planner will want to ask you about your event’s overall objectives, timeline, budget, guest count, and personal preferences. The person who asks questions and wants to define your exact needs and learn about your objectives will probably be your first choice.

Once you have made your choice, it’s time to get to work. Now is the time for you to prepare your wish list and get creative with the ideas. Your event planner will act as filter and offer practical solutions for all of your ideas.

When the event is over, and it has been a success, you will want to keep this person in your network for your next event. Finding a great event planner that understands your needs and can pull off an event without a hitch is a great find. Keep them close to you and they will always come through for you and your next event.