Every couple comes to me at a different levels of the design process. Some know EXACTLY what they want down to how the napkin is to be folded and the appearance of the table numbers and some have a vision of a feel or vibe they are hoping to create but want the guidance of myself and the vendors to help create that atmosphere. There is no right or wrong way to approach the design process when it comes to your day. It is absolutely 100% your day and should be absolutely 100% the way you want it. BUT, if you know your expectations for the day and the role you hope your vendors to play in the design process, you can use these expectations to determine the right vendors for you. Let's take florists and planners for example.
Some florists specialize in taking a picture and replicating it exactly. If you are the type of bride that wants NO deviation from your look or finds visualizing challenging, this might be the type of vendor for you. And, if you are this type of person, then searching for a coordinator to help with the logistics, implementation and day of coordination is probably the best fit for your approach. This planner will serve as your eyes and ears and overall make sure that the vendors hired follow the pictures and plans to a tee so you have no surprises. Easy, breezy and as long as there are no real emergencies, a day exactly as you want.
On the other hand, if you are the type of bride that has a feel or atmosphere they are trying to create, then you might appreciate a planner, florist, lighting designer, etc. that can use your feel as inspiration and collaborate with you on how to make it come to life. If this is the case, consider hiring a planner and vendors whose aesthetic appeals to you, give them some guidance and let them come back to you with suggestions of how to translate your style at the wedding. This is the sure way to have a more custom event, which I'm always a fan of, but also, you must give a bit more trust to your team as some details will have only been seen in sketches or in your head prior to the wedding day.
One way to know the difference is to ask the vendors directly. Did they design or replicate the looks you see in their portfolio? Did the bride direct every decision or were some things left up to the florists, planners, etc.? Again, there is no right or wrong answer to these questions, but knowing these answers and your expectations will help you to select a team that is best fit for your approach.