With July the biggest month for marriages–it’s not June (see page 6)—the editors of PEOPLE decided to put together our first-ever special issue dedicated to real-life weddings. Our reporters tracked down tales that will inspire you (the groom who gave his bride a kidney, page 18) and amaze you (the couple who met online—then realized they had shared a crib in daycare, page 25). Working on this issue had an unexpected effect on three staffers who got engaged—and two who got married as we were going to press. David Ciancio didn’t realize he was following a trend when he popped the question to People.com senior editor Cara Lynn Shultz. Like the other grooms on these pages who went all out in their proposals, he did it onstage during a rock concert. “I was so surprised, I forgot to say yes,” says Shultz. Reporter Molly Lopez was also stunned when boyfriend Erich Sekel gave her a ring—then whisked her to dinner, where their families were waiting. And creative director Rina Migliaccio was gardening one Sunday when her boyfriend, Brittain Stone, asked her to proofread a monogram he was helping design for her. “The letters are wrong!” she blurted out. Replied Stone: “They’ll be right if you marry me.” Production artist Michael Aponte and his partner, Matthew Bohun, tied the knot in Canada, while reporter Bethany Lye and Tony Miga exemplified another trend: Their Jack Russell terrier Hipo was the flower dog. You don’t have to be a bride to enjoy this issue. Who can resist a gown made of cream puffs, a cake from every state or a wedding with R2D2 as the best man? Cheers.