my wife and i are in a similar boat to you it seems, as we are planning a trip to learn boarding in a little over a month. (yay)
some things that we are planning on / learning as we go.
first, we are going to rent boards/boots the first time or two we go, to see if we like it well enough to continue with our own gear.
we asked around about clothes a little bit before we bought some, to get the range that we wanted for water proofing and breathability. from there we went to the closest store we could and tried some stuff on to get an idea how some of the brands fit. after that its lots of digging online. some retailers that seem to do ok for us: dogfunk.com, backcountry.com, moosejaw.com, sierrasnowboards.com, sierratradingpost.com peterglenn(something), and some others.... theres a thread on the forums about that.
whiskeymilitia.com and steepandcheap.com are probably the best place to find good values on your gear. you can find goggles for 30 bucks or so, brands that seem to have a good rep.
underlayers, midlayers, impact clothes (butt and wrist protection) you can find some good info on thoes things on the forums as well.
one thing we did is not buy the cheapest pants / jackets we could find. we found stuff we liked, that we could keep for a bit if we like it, and if not... had a little ebay value after the fact. (im really hoping thats not the case.
anyway, some thougts from a fellow noob. if you have the time to do the research, and wait for some deals, you should be able to get outfitted fairly reasonably.