After her quick weekend getaway, a good friend of mine scheduled an im¬promptu Sunday brunch. She was cryptic and short about it. Something was up.

I knew she was engaged from the moment I saw her smile. I squealed like a 12-year-old at a Justin Bieber concert and impa¬tiently sat waiting for the rest of our friends to arrive so she could recount the proposal. We congratulated her fiancÚ on his taste in rings, and then interrogated him about his nerves.

It was a celebratory morn¬ing; a feeling I wished for their sake would last a while as they shared the news with others. We all know what soon follows the ring: lots of questions. When are you getting married? Who's do¬ing your flowers? What does your dress look like?

The onset of inquiries can create urgency in brides to have the answers right away. It can quickly shift the mood from "Congratu¬lations!" to "That's great, but…"

Now, two short weeks after our brunch, my friend is already knee-deep in planning-booking venues, photographers, florists and DJs.

The process can be overwhelming, especially because most brides are first-time customers who can't always depend on experience to pick a reliable vendor.

Knowing this, my friend hasn't stopped asking oth¬ers for references. It's the advice wedding pros have repeatedly given us over the past several months of interviews: start with good recommendations.

Our goal, then, while planning this issue was simple-to serve as a reli¬able and inspirable friend to help you through what should be a fun and exciting process.

In "Plan Like a Pro" we gathered great advice from area wedding pros to create a checklist of what to do and when for a seamless wedding day.

In "Bridal Bliss" we staged three different weddings-each with its own vibe-to offer inspiration. We show ways to transition your look from the ceremony to recep¬tion without changing your dress. And we follow each wedding with an inspiration board for, you guessed it, even more ideas.

Plus, there are dazzling rings for the bride and groom, easy ways to add color to your bridal party and a slew of amazing real Columbus weddings. And because we can't stress relaxation enough, we've got a list of luxe spa treatments that will ease your stress and ensure you look your best on the big day.

I know I'll be handing a copy of this to my friend as soon as it's off the presses. I hope she-and you-can take advantage of our leg work to plan with greater ease and enjoy this time. You deserve it!

Beth

BETH STALLINGS,

Assistant Editor