Thanks for writing. The answer is really up to you --- there's no right choice. Select the paving material that best suits your personal style and budget.
As far as whether you install the paths first or the plants, again that's up to you. Some people like to start with paths to give the area structure and that guides the way they plant. Other people like to plant first and then weave the paths through those plantings.
---Justin, Senior Garden Editor, BHG.com