In the U.S., February is typically known as the season of love, but Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) boasts displays of affection year-round. From the hawks showing off their mid-air courting displays in March, to the wedding ceremonies that take place nearly every weekend, the Cuyahoga Valley is a place filled with love.
Conservancy members Derek and Kim Drayer were married last fall in Happy Days Lodge. We talked recently with Derek and Kim about their experience getting married in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and what inspired them to host one of the biggest days of their lives here.
“We don’t want to take for granted this beautiful gift nature has given us in our backyard,” they said. “We hike in the park all the time. Sometimes it’s just the two of us, and sometimes our golden retriever joins us. Falkor absolutely loves CVNP too!”
Derek and Kim live in the area and have had many special moments in the Cuyahoga Valley. After a separation, they rekindled their relationship at Brandywine Falls, so they decided to do their “first look” photos there on their wedding day—despite temperatures in the 30s. (Must be true Ohioans!)
As part of their celebration, Derek and Kim encouraged their guests to make donations to the Conservancy in lieu of traditional gifts. “We are very fortunate in our lives in that we didn’t want or need a bunch of ‘stuff’ as gifts from our guests,” they said. “You have your whole life to accumulate stuff. Contributing toward the Conservancy is about doing something bigger than just yourself. And we’ll indirectly benefit from any gifts to the Conservancy when we spend time in CVNP.”
When they think about the future of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Derek and Kim hope this special place continues to thrive for generations to come. “We hope the park continues to be a place for couples to spend time and unplug from the chaos & technologies of the world,” they said. “We’d like to see more and more activities offered in the park to help people connect with nature, and for it to be a sanctuary for some—to find peace among the noise.”