It really doesn't matter if your searching for a family photographer, commercial, or even wedding photographer there is a vast number to choose from and many different places to find them!
The Referral: First, look for a friend who has had a similar need, in our case someone who has gotten married in the past year or so. Ask, if they were happy with the service, quality, and if they could have changed anything what would that be? Look at their images.. they could be LOVELY but just not your "style". If you find a good referral but they are out of budget, or not really the style that your looking for, ask for a referral from THEM and let them know why. Photographers tend to know other photographers in different price ranges, styles, as well as others similar to them in case they are booked the day you need!
Also, ask other wedding vendors that you have already chosen... ask at the bridal salon, DJ, Cake maker... in many cases they will know or have cards on-hand even if they don't have first hand experience of the service.
Check the online ads: There are TONS of websites that list wedding services. Most the photographer has to pay to be a part of... but show sample portfolios and sometimes offer client reviews like SnapKnot , The Knot, Wedding Photography Select and One Wed.
I personally like The Wedding Wire you can not only review clients ratings and comments, but you can talk to other brides online in the forums! Super awesome for ideas and getting more information!
A great place to check also is PPA (Professional Photographers of America) which lists a data base of its members. PPA offers education, certifications and hosts trade-shows for photographers. While not all awesome photographers are members, its a great place to look for a serious professional! Another great option is WPPI (Wedding Portrait Photographers International) being more specific you wont have commercial or landscape photographers clouding up the listings. Plus its a great start if your planning a destination wedding!
If your style lends towards photo-journalistic there is a site for that too! The Wedding Photojournalisic Association (WPJA) Links you directly to their members in your area. Founded in 2002 it is a "newb" in the world of Photo Associations, but they have some amazing inspirational images and solid reviews of their members!
The Budget Finds: Many "good deals" can be found for someone starting out and working to build a portfolio... keep in mind you still want someone who will be professional with your guests, you wont find them at the bar, and trustworthy! You WANT to be able to find them after and get the images! You also want there to be quality images! Rather then trusting your images to little Bobby who has a camera and took photography in high school, check the local Art Institute, or Collage in your area with a Photography program. Go to the TEACHER and ask who they would recommend! Also, checking with local studio photographers who have / or have had interns, or might be going into that direction themselves is a really good bet! Please be careful tho, not every landscape photographer or portrait photographer can do an equally good job for you at your wedding!
Now... many people will suggest places like Craigslist - where you can place an ad or review ads... like classifieds. Since this is free for both... your basically opening yourself up to any number of scary situations, not just "have point and shoot and want to do weddings" but scammers, and other crazy people alike. There are too many other good places to search for me to ever recommend this... but if you do... make sure they have a website, client referrals and clients you can call to talk to, and ALWAYS meet in a public place, and NEVER meet anyone alone. (ok, mom rant over)
Google does a good job of finding photographers with websites or blogs in most areas, so you can do that as well just to get some names to look into! Before I go on to talk to you about the meeting, we are going to talk a little about research and questions to ask before you set a meeting. This will help you select your "top candidates" as well as not waste multiple photographers (and your) time by meeting with more then three.
I hope you keep coming back to check in as we continue our month of LOVE!