I remarried 5 years ago - seems like a lifetime ago, after having two more squishies!
As I am spoiled - totally rotten - because I work part-time event planning in my town, and my mum is a professional seamstress, my wedding planning took 18 months, and I had it EXACTLY the way I wanted. And did it on a very tight budget, (mostly because I am cheap, lol!...but it helps when you know all the wholesalers, and deal with limo drivers, caterers, reception locales, wine reps, florists and book local bands on a regular basis!!!)
I went off with my GFs, Future-MIL and SILs-to-be, mum and whoever else, and had heaps of fun trying on dresses over the course of several weekend jaunts with different sets of peeps. Travelled back home to London, then to NYC, Atlanta, LA, New Orleans, wherever took my fancy and there was a wedding dress shop, and tried on everything and anything anyone suggested. I worked out what I liked, and what I didn't like, AND THEN went to a couture designer, and had my dress made. I had a BLAST! I didn't stress my mum out by asking her to make MY dress - that would've been too much, but she did get to make a couple of BM dresses, and a fantastic job she did, too - better than the designers' shop IMO. And I got a very figure-flattering dress, beautifully made in the style I wanted, the fabric and color I wanted, at a great price.
If time and budget allows, I would HIGLY recommend that you at least go try on dresses, preferrably with someone you trust, at least TWICE. Having planned, and helped plan more weddings than I want to remember, ....when you put on YOUR dress, you just KNOW. I spent a year looking, and looking, .....and looking. I tried on more dresses than I had hot dinners,.... and none of them were THE ONE.
When I put on the one the designer made,..........I just knew. I LOVED IT. And five years later, every time I see that dress haning in my 'formals' closet, I STILL LOVE IT.
THATS how I'd like to think you will feel, in several years, looking at the dress you will wear for your special day (at least for one of them, right?).
Good luck, and have fun - and keep us updated !