Hocking Hills Weddings: Tales About Saying “I do” in the Hills

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Four couples share the story of how their relationship’s journey brought them to Hocking Hills on their big day


Everyone has their own idea of a fairytale wedding location. For some, it could be an old church with floor to ceiling stained glass windows. Others, a barefoot affair on a white sand beach far away. But for some, saying “I do” near cascading waterfalls, alongside serene lakes and rivers, or within a glacier-made cave is the perfect spot. These couples chose a Hocking Hills wedding. 

On a mission to find the best Hocking Hills wedding stories, we held a Hocking Hills Wedding Story contest, where couples told their tales. The winning stories were unique––too incredible, sometimes too unbelievable not to share. From a hot air balloon ride gone awry to a canoe ride in the middle of the Hocking River after exchanging vows, these four stories are the best for a reason. 

Michelle and Dale


“To this day, I still hear from family members that say our wedding was the most beautiful wedding they have been to”

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Photo courtesy of Michelle Genschaw

 

Michelle submitted she and Dale’s story

Q: How did you and your spouse meet?


A: In December 2003, Dale and I met at a Christmas carnival at a preschool. We both had 4-year-old boys who happened to be best friends at school. During the carnival, our boys wanted to eat lunch together so we started chatting and hit it off.

Q: Why did you choose to get married at Hocking Hills?


A: Dale and I live in San Diego, California. But my whole family lives in Dayton, Ohio and I wanted to get married in a place that was beautiful, but where more of my family could attend.

Q: Where in the Hills did you tie the knot?


A: We chose to get married at the Hocking Hills Wedding Chapel in October 2005. We exchanged vows outside and then had our reception in the wedding chapel.

Q: What was the best part about getting married in Hocking Hills?


A: To this day, I still hear from family members that say our wedding was the most beautiful wedding they have been to. I was pretty worried about how it would turn out because I had to plan the whole wedding from San Diego. But it really could not have been more perfect. It was beautiful outside and the chapel was elegant. Everything from the flowers to the food to the photography was truly wonderful.

Q: Anything else you’d like to tell us about your Hocking Hills Wedding story?


A: The wedding planner at Valley View Cabins that helped me was an absolute lifesaver. I basically sent her pictures of everything that I liked (colors for flower arrangements, chairs, linens, etc.) and she made everything so perfect. I really just showed up and she took care of everything. The food, the DJ, the photographer, my bouquet...I loved every single thing. She even found someone to do both mine and my stepdaughter's hair and makeup on short notice (being from San Diego I didn't realize that the salons there would be closed on Sunday). She made what could have been a very stressful day into a perfect one. I will always be grateful to her and to the rest of the staff for that. 

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Photo courtesy of Michelle Genschaw

Tabitha and Jared


“The beauty of nature has profound effects on us! That super good feeling has stuck with us and our guests ever since.”

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Photo courtesy of Tabitha Donner 

Tabitha submitted she and Jared’s story

Q: How did you and your spouse meet?


A: We met in Spanish class (Nos encontramos en la clase de español) during our sophomore year at the University of Cincinnati.

Q: Why did you choose to get married at Hocking Hills?


A: I grew up in Athens County but moved away to go to college, then ventured further and moved out of state. I was living and working off the coast of Fort Myers, FL, which is a paradise in its own right. But even the Gulf of Mexico's majestic blue waters don't pull at my heartstrings the way the sun filtering through the trees to the waterfall at Ash Cave does after a spring rain! I knew once my husband proposed, there was only one place on Earth to get hitched: HOME! Back to the hills! The Hocking Hills! 

Q: Where in the Hills did you tie the knot? 


A: In the garden at the Hocking Hills Resort.

Q: What was the best part about getting married in Hocking Hills?


A: Being able to share my "backyard" with friends and family who were not familiar with Hocking Hills. I'm often told how our special day was picture perfect. "The most beautiful wedding in the most amazing setting." It gave people who had never before taken the opportunity to explore the caves or drive down some country back roads a chance to get out into nature & breathe the fresh air; to hike those hills & collect fresh water; to witness wildlife in person. The beauty of nature has profound effects on us! That super good feeling has stuck with us and our guests ever since. We love to reminisce over what a truly lovely day it was!

Q: Anything else you’d like to tell us about your Hocking Hills Wedding story?


A: Visiting peacocks! Growing up in Southeast Ohio, I'd been exposed to a lot of wildlife, however, when these unexpected guests showed up, I was utterly amazed. I didn't realize there are wild peacocks in Hocking Hills. In that moment, it felt like we had made the perfect choice on an outdoor wedding in Hocking Hills. We felt like we were exactly where we were meant to be and we had the blessing of our family, our friends and nature! There's great symbolism behind peacocks and I believe their visit was a good omen for our marriage. Indeed, today is our anniversary and we've been married seven years! 

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Photos courtesy of Tabitha Donner

Rebekah and Alex


“A quiet calm paddle together was just what we needed to calm ourselves and reconnect with each other and nature."

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Photo courtesy of Rebekah Cohen

Rebekah submitted she and Alex’s story

Q: How did you and your spouse meet?


A: In 2010, I walked into Hocking Hills Canoe Livery to turn in my application for a summer job. Alex, my now husband, was painting the shop. I gave him my application and left. When I left, he turned to the guy he was working with and told him "I'm going to marry that girl one day.”

Q: Why did you choose to get married at Hocking Hills?


A: Hocking means everything to us. We both went to Hocking College for Eco-Tourism and were blessed to spend our time in school, out in the woods exploring all the things that make the area so unique and beautiful. Athens Farmers Market, glacial erratic and friends that are more like family are just a few of the reasons we love hocking and will always call it home wherever we may be living!

Q: Where in the Hills did you tie the knot?


A: Hocking Hills Canoe Livery’s 7 mile put in spot and then the reception was at the canoe livery’s campgrounds.

Q: What was the best part about getting married in Hocking Hills?


A: After the ceremony we paddled (in our wedding attire) 2 miles from the livery’s 7 mile put in to the 5 mile put in. After all the nerves, from planning and getting ready, a quiet calm paddle together was just what we needed to calm ourselves and reconnect with each other and nature. The bird activity was so amazing that evening as well. We couldn't have done any of this anywhere else! 

Q: Anything else you’d like to tell us about your Hocking Hills Wedding story? 


A: Saying our vows in a field full of wildflowers then dancing under the stars to a bluegrass band; it truly was a magical evening! One we will never forget. We try to visit our wedding spot each time we come back home. We are so thankful for the community and the close friends we have in the area which will always be why we return. 

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Photos courtesy of Rebekah Cohen

Christina and Christopher  


“It was a adventurous fairytale that we won’t forget.”

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Photo courtesy of Christina Hennessy

Christina submitted she and Christopher’s story. They were our Hocking Hills Wedding Story contest grand prize winner, and received a romantic getaway to the Hills, complete with cabin stay, canoe ride and dinner for two.

Q: How did you and your spouse meet?


A: My husband and I met just a few months after the end of both of our marriages. We met while dancing in a local bar and grill.

Q: Why did you choose to get married at Hocking Hills?


A: My husband took me hiking there for my birthday the first year we met. After our hikes, we went to the gem mine and he made me a tiny ring from a rough stone we had found and some wire. I have loved it ever since. We have five children together and at the time, we also had three foster children. A huge family wedding was financially impossible and getting married at Hocking Hills gave us the chance to have our wedding and honeymoon in one of our favorite places.

Q: Where in the Hills did you tie the knot?


A: We got married during a very dramatic hot air balloon ride that involved a wind storm and two balloon crashes. The package was set up by The Georgian Manner. Our wedding was delayed the first day due to weather. So our supposed to be wedding night was spent wide awake, unable to lie down due to our clothing and hair already being done. We talked all night and left early in the morning for our balloon wedding. The high winds would not allow us to land and it took a crash into a ditch, another crash into a muddy field and a final landing in the middle of a busy subdivision. The neighbors were on their porches snapping pictures at the sight. 

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Photo courtesy of Christina Hennessy

Q: What was the best part about getting married in Hocking Hills?


A: The ceremony was hilarious. The officiate had to pause after sentences to allow the balloon master to pull the fire release that filled the hot air balloon. After each sentence was a deafening roar. It was gorgeous scenery and our wedding day was spent running around hocking hills shops in full wedding garb. We bought our first wedding present for each other at the Wind chime shop and my giant gown kept knocking the bells when I walked down the aisles. We stopped at a very nice Inn for lunch but they were on a lunch menu only that involved mostly hamburgers. The waitress saw our clothes, spoke to the chef and he opened up the whole menu and specially prepared our first wedding meal.


Q: Anything else you’d like to tell us about your Hocking Hills Wedding story?


A: Before the wedding, we got tiny faces tattooed on our thumbs that would last only a month. We told the wedding officiate that if we ever wanted to fight, then we could let our two thumb wrestlers fight it out for us. It was a adventurous fairytale that we won’t forget.

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Photo courtesy of Christina Hennessy

Eager to plan your own Hocking Hills wedding?


If you’re on the search for your fairytale wedding location, check out our website’s robust Wedding section for all Hocking Hills Wedding options. You’ll find everything from ceremony locations to reception sites to local catering services.