well I did the Chinese knock-off route for my dress and I couldn't be happier (Jasmine's Bridal Shop). I got my custom Pronovias replica dress in 9 weeks. I spent less than $600 and I don't think anyone will be able to tell it's not a real Pronovias gown that would have cost me about $3,000 without alterations. I posted about my experience in the knock-off thread.
As for welcome bags. I am doing one per couple/room and one per single guest.
I'm an April 2013 bride but my timeline is very similar to you guys:
This week I had a chance to send in my musical requests for the ceremony for the steel drummer we're having to play from ceremony through cocktail hour.
Deposit down and working on playlist for the DJ for the reception
Invitations went out two weeks ago
Dress, accessories and shoes bought
Hotel and rental car booked
Ceremony decor determined
Make up artist booked
Florist booked (submitted flower requests)
MOH dress arrived this week. She picked it up but it has to be altered. She's lost about a dress size so, she's gonna hold off to do final alterations. They told her it would take 6 weeks.
Mother of the bride dress bought and she looks fabulous.
This is sort of a big deal but my FI's mom FINALLY got her passport!! lol She's never been out of the country before and she has not been on a plane in 15 years. We still have to get her to book her flight and hotel. *crosses fingers* FI will have to pay for at least one of those things. TBD later.
Honeymoon plane tickets/hotel and rental car booked for Cayman Brac
Groom, Best Man and Dad outfits to be purchased within the next week or two via Island Importer
Plan casual welcome party (this is contingent on how many guests are coming and who they are!)
Get welcome bag together but most of the items we're using will be purchased in Grand Cayman. Also no idea how many guests yet.
Waiting on 2013 menu to come out for venue so we can't plan the wedding menu yet.
come up with reception decor
Have fun and not flip out
Ladies, after the holidays, all the magic will really begin. RSVPs, finalizing guest numbers, etc. In other words, CRUNCH TIME. Glad to have this forum for support.