I would definitely love to do the dress-buying on the sooner side rather than the later one, but it's one of those items that require financial help. Basically, the way we've split costs is that my dad is taking care of expenses related to the venue (the most expensive part: this covers the use of the location for the day, catering, drinks, and some rentals), and the rest will be pulled from a certain-dollar amount from my mom and D's parents—with D and I footing the bill for everything else (I estimate our contribution at about $3,000, not including the Mehndi, which I'll probably be paying for... is that a faux pas? Do brides not do that themselves? Meh). My dad has set dates for his contribution, but the rest of our wedding day sponsors (ha) are sort of... at their leisure. My mom is still recovering from the financial ramifications of her own wedding, so she's not really ready to help us, and I think D's parents might just be planning to write us a check at the end (helpful, yes, but deposits still need to be paid!).
This is a long-winded way of saying that I can't afford to buy my dress this month, and I don't think my mom wants to go shopping with me until she's ready to pay for the dress. Sigh.
I've been using the time, though, to do more research on DJs and Videographers. I am finding that, despite the crappy economy and despite the fact that some wedding vendors seem to be doing some price cutting to lure in budget-conscious couples, nobody is cheap enough for me!!!
I'm tempted to go buy a $300 camcorder and enlist a friend to do our video... after all, then we get a camera out of it! It's really been a challenge finding a recommended vendor for under $1,000. We would spend more if we could, but I've prioritized photography, and that seriously hurt the video budget. At this point, I'm mostly looking for someone that I can trust to actually show up and then deliver video at a later date. I'm not really looking to pay for art in this category, just reliability.
As for the DJ... this one is just hard. There are people at or near our budget, but how do you really know if a DJ is any good until after the night is over? How do you know that he will play your "must-plays," or that he will actually ensure that he's waited for the champagne to be poured before he cues your little brother for the toast (another glitch at my mom's wedding!)? How do you know if your definitions of "cheesy" are the same? If his equipment will actually work?
Arg. Stress! I know wedding planning is stressful for almost everyone, but somehow I thought that a long engagement would relieve some of the pressure. Instead, it just postponed it. :)