You can start looking now. Get some bridal magazines and check out the ads. Pull out the page when you see something that appeals to you and put it in a notebook. Go though the notebook from time to time and discard stuff that is no longer interesting.
You can do this, now, with all aspects of wedding planning.
As for actually shopping for the bridesmaid dresses, wait until you have your bridesmaids lined up, then consider their preferences, body styles, color choices, etc. Don't sign up bridesmaids (unless they are your sisters) too early, as friendships can wax and wane between now and then.
Finally: Think outside the box. You don't really need matching dresses. Consider coordinating dresses in different colors, different styles, that each look best on each lady.
Because money is tight with a lot of my friends, I've already told them to start looking. This way, they can make payments on a dress. Also, they get to pick which style they want as long as it matches the color I chose. I want them to look their very best!
It's certainly never too early to get them looking! My wedding is July 14, 2012 and we've been talking bridesmaid dresses for a few months now. My girls were very appreciative of the extra time!
If it could go wrong, it probably will. As long as at the end of it all I'm married to him, I could care less about the chaos.
I'll have to agree with the others. I know a lot of women who are bridesmaids who would appreciate the extra time in shopping for dresses. I'm not getting married until 12/12/12 and i'm already having my 'maids shop for their dresses. Congrats and good luck planning!!!