But today, some women are doing things a little differently.
These "single bridezillas," as they have been coined, are happy to finalize their wedding plans well before the marriage proposal. They are the girls not afraid to put the dress before the diamond, or the reception before the ring.
On TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" , the hit show that follows brides-to-be as they choose their gown, one episode featured Yadhira Duran, a woman picking out her dress before her boyfriend had even popped the question.
Kat Richter is another not-yet-engaged lady unafraid to put the dress before the man.
The 26-year-old writer from Philadelphia told "Good Morning America" she has been obsessed with weddings since she was a little girl.
Richter has two wedding dresses ready to go, even though she's been dating her new man, Ricardo, for one month, not even long enough, she says, for her to call him her boyfriend.
When Ricardo, or another man, does pop the question, Richter will have her grandmother's 1940s wedding dress, and another wedding dress she found for just $12, waiting in the closet.
"Not really," Richter said of whether she cares what people think of her wedding preparedness. "I'm going to have the last laugh when I save a lot of money and still have a fabulous wedding."
Richter's planning for her future fantasy wedding goes beyond the gown to include samples of the type of floral arrangements, reception centerpieces and veil she wants on her wedding day, all carefully documented and stored.
"This is my wonderful folder of Kat's wedding stuff, things that I've pulled out from magazines," she said, opening a folder full of cut outs of invitations, music, flowers, wedding cakes and looks for her future bridesmaids.
"I could see where it could be scary," she said of how her wedding obsession may play with potential grooms. "I don't run around showing people all of the things that I have collected."
Sarah Bush is another woman who, like Richter, is planning ahead.
"I've been planning my wedding since I was old enough to know what weddings were," she told "GMA." "I had Barbie and Ken married over and over and over again."
The 23-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee, has been dating her boyfriend, Travis Archer, for two years. The couple is not yet engaged, but Bush still has online inspiration boards at the ready to plan her big day that doesn't yet exist.
"My friends joke with me all the time, saying, 'So you can get married like a month after you get engaged, right?,' and I'm like, yeah, probably," she said.
Bush told "GMA" she has already selected her invitations, two catering companies, her wedding dress and the bridesmaids.
The only major decision left for the yet-to-be-engaged Bush is what, exactly, those bridesmaids will wear.
"I have three different styles," she said. "The one that I love the most is this Southern seersucker dress. I have a navy one and an orange one because my wedding colors are kind of peach orange and navy."
Is Planning Ahead a Mistake?
Mara Urshel, co-owner of the famous New York City bridal boutique Kleinfeld, where brides on the TLC show go to "say yes" to their dress, warns "single bridezillas" that putting the cart too far before the horse can be a foolish decision.
"Attitudes change, weight changes, styles change," said Urshel. "So to do that [plan a wedding] way ahead of your wedding date, that is going to be a very difficult thing."
"It may be very fool-hearted, and expensive," she said.
Richter, for one, says she has a plan to make sure that her wedding dreaming does not overtake the reality of marriage.
"I've made myself a promise that for every hour I spend wedding planning, that I'm going to spend an equal amount of time working towards the marriage," she said.