Find your venue and your gown first, most people told me. Venues (and churches, if you'll have one) book up quickly. And, you'll want to have your venue booked before you decide on your dress, said one of my friends, because some dresses simply don't fit some venues. Ball gown with lots of tulle on the beach? May become a bit cumbersome and gritty.
Dresses, too, can take time to come in, and it's likely you may want alterations. Having just met with my alterations expert, I've learned that alterations should begin approximately eight weeks before the big day. Clearly, the dress has to be in hand for that to occur.
"I recommend thinking about music early," another of my friends advised. "That's one of the things that was most important to us and we waited way too long -- we were picking out our special songs on the plane to Ohio for our wedding."
This is something Steven and I still have yet to do. Thankfully, our DJ has an online library of songs commonly picked for special wedding events, such as first dance and cake cutting, so we can count on inspiration there.
Finally, one former bride suggested taking a look at wedding planning timelines provided by The Knot. I receive emails in my wedding email account (trust me, create a special email so that your personal account isn't bombarded) every time another month has passed with tips from The Knot about what we should be accomplishing, and I do find them informative and helpful. All in all, though, I've compiled a variety of wedding planning timelines from a variety of websites and magazines, and I take a gander at all of them from time to time to keep us on track.