Rachel and Cody, both from Placerville, met through his best friend and her cousin, Christopher. Rachel’s grandmother, Carol, thought that Cody was the one for her and did a little matchmaking.

Well into their relationship, Cody took Rachel camping to Virginia City, Nevada. He set up camp and cooked Rachel’s favorite dinner with the mountains in the background. At one point, he tied the ring box on Rachel’s dog, Nadie. “I told Rachel there was something wrong with her dog’s neck,” he says. She was pleasantly surprised to find the engagement ring in the box.

The newly engaged couple had few expectations for their wedding other than they wanted it to be a happy and joyous day with family and friends and have Nadie as their ring bearer. “We wanted it to be a carefree whimsical country fairy tale wedding with all the love and charm that goes with it,” shares Rachel.

Planning went smoothly thanks to those who pitched in and helped. “The wedding planner was good at ordering and decorating and knowing who to call,” says Rachel. “My mother, Mae, helped with the planning while we were at work to lighten the load.” The bride also remembers first hearing the violin playing of Marlene Silva and the piano by Aunt Mary Hagen. “Music can strike a chord that touches your soul so deep,” she says.

The couple chose her family ranch for the big day. “It took us eight days to set up,” Rachel says. “Putting up so many lights to help create that romantic mood…along with the butterflies, birds and lots of flowers and hanging Spanish moss.” But most of all, the pair remembers enjoying the energy and love they deeply felt from everyone there. “We really felt the support from everyone,” says Rachel. “It’s like we stepped back in time a 100 years or so. We didn’t want the night to end. We felt God’s endless love that day for sure.”

—Darren Elms