A Wintery Hocking Hills Elopement
Kara (Johnston) and Zach Barnard eloped in Saltpetre Cave State Nature Preserve in the Hocking Hills on April 2, 2021, and received a belated April Fools’ Day prank from Mother Nature: 20-degree temperatures. They warmed up with their coffee-based unity ceremony, which was officiated by Windi Noble of Run to an Elopement. They were joined on their Hocking Hills honeymoon by their dog, Luna.
The Johnstons met in 2015 via Facebook, of all things. “I posted a story about modern love, Zach commented on it—something like, ‘While I’m sure there’s a lack of love, I’m also sure there is plenty to go around,’ ” Kara recalls. “I knew I had to meet him.” She summoned her courage and sent Zach a private message, and the pair hung out that night, listening to ’90s music and watching the Discovery Channel.
Their engagement story is fitting for a couple who eloped in a Hocking Hills cave: Zach popped the question in Moab, Utah, after a grueling, 100-degree hike to a waterfall that the ended up having all to themselves. The pair later picked out the ring together in Denver. “He caught me off guard by asking, and it was so sweet and special,” Kara says.
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“Our elopement was unique and exactly what we wanted: intimate and in nature,” she adds. “Every moment was special, and we were truly able to focus on each other.”
Photographer: Elizabeth Nihiser Photography
Ceremony: Saltpetre Cave State Nature Preserve
Officiant: Run to an Elopement
Florist: Shaffer Creative Co.
Bride’s attire: Gown from BlushFashion on Etsy, hiking boots
Groom’s attire: Suit from Banana Republic
This story first appeared in the spring/summer 2022 issue of Columbus Weddings, published in December 2021.