Like many modern-day couples, Rachel Kozlowski and David Betke were looking for love on a dating app and luckily found each other. “Dave says what was most memorable was how easy it was to talk to each other [and] we planned a second date not long after,” Rachel muses. The lovebirds moved in together as their relationship blossomed, and one morning, Dave proposed to his sweetheart in their home. “[I] woke up to him popping the question and said yes without hesitation,” she smiles.

Since Rachel was in anesthesia school as a nurse, the pair dedicated nearly two years to planning their wedding. Although they reside in Chicago, the pair flew to the west coast for the big day. “We absolutely love California and would love to move there someday,” the bride reveals. They elected a five-star hotel in Santa Barbara that they absolutely adored. “[We] stayed at [our venue] and knew right away it was the dream location to say our vows and share time together with family and friends,” shares the bride. “We wanted an intimate wedding [and] found it to be an ideal location to relax and enjoy together.” In addition to reciting personalized vows, the couple also included Rachel’s son in the ceremony. “We wove him into our ceremony and celebrations of the start of a new family,” she smiles.

The overall theme of the celebration was inspired by the Golden State. “California was a destination for us and many of our guests, [so] we opted for a California sunshine color theme with yellow, gold, and orange accents, but still [had] neutral tones as a base,” Rachel explains. The aesthetic continued into the floral décor, which featured an array of yellow, white, and peach-toned blooms. The arrangements perfectly paired with greenery and soft candlelight. Wanting to incorporate the sunny California theme once again, the wedding confection featured a layer of lemon cake. “[It] tied together the yellows in our sunshine theme,” muses Rachel. In lieu of favors, the newlyweds decided to donate to charity. “We made donations to two charities on behalf of our guests in lieu of wedding favors: a surgical mission organization that Dave and I volunteered service to in Honduras [and] an organization involved in ocean preservation,” she smiles.

Rachel hopes that other engaged couples can also personalize their wedding as it made for an unforgettable day. “You have the opportunity to make your wedding anything you want it to be,” she confides. “Make it yours without guilt, and enjoy every moment.”