our wedding ceremony

August 23rd, 2012   |   LifeOur Wedding

When we eloped in Paris, we decided to craft our own wedding ceremony. Mr. Lively is not partial to any religion and though I adore teachings from many religions, I identify as spiritual myself. But let’s be honest, since I was part of the equation I made sure there was a hefty dose of intention in there, too.

Beforehand, I was honestly a bit worried about how “special” our ceremony would feel to me since we were doing it in a public, but secluded, part of Paris. I really hoped that I wouldn’t feel like I missed out on the specialness of the ceremony by not doing a traditional wedding with guests, singers, and music.

Thankfully, the ceremony was a huge success. Exactly the right fit for us.

When we landed in Paris we had no idea where we were going to have the ceremony. So right after landing in France, we chose the location the day before the wedding with our friends Kim (our photographer) and Scott (our officiant).

We knew we wanted it to be in a beautiful and semi-private space the following day. Hopefully in a garden. After trekking around the city taking in the breathtaking buildings, the gardens of Notre Dame, Jardins des Plantes, and a few other spots, we found the place. Once we walked into le Jardin du Luxembourg, we were sold.

We then walked around the garden to find the perfect ceremony spot and discovered that behind a bee house, there was a quiet curve in the far corner of the garden. Our spot.

The following day, our wedding day, Mr. Lively and Scott drove arrived early in a taxi to our location and stood ready for Kim and I to arrive.

When Kim and I got there, I dashed out of the taxi to avoid being seen prematurely. Kim then set herself up to shoot the wedding and I then walked into the garden to meet them all.

Once the ceremony began, Scott started off with a short introduction of the ceremony. Then, he read messages from our parents.

Because we had not read the messages beforehand, I was shocked to find out that my parents had sent along with their message two dozen photos of me as a child I had never seen before. The emotion from looking back to discover new things about my own life was an emotional tidal wave.

And Mr. Lively’s parents also shared personal insights from their marriage and gave us wisdom on what it means to be married.

At that point, Scott talked about his own insights from his marriage to Kim, and what things we have to look forward to as a married couple.

Next, Mr. Lively and I took turns reading our Marriage Vows we had created together. These vows serve as the foundation of our marriage and family going forward (more on that later).

After that, we each shared our own individual vows to one another. This is where I chose to work in my own personal spiritual beliefs about our marriage and where Mr. Lively discussed our future life and home that we will build together.

Once the vow exchange was over, we placed our wedding bands on our fingers and kissed.

All the way through the ceremony I kept thinking to myself, this is so perfect. Exactly as it’s supposed to be. And though the ceremony was not very long, time stood still for me. So for anyone else who is considering elopement and might fear, like I did, that the ceremony might be a bit of a let down compared to a wedding, please know that I did not feel that way at all. Because we had such personal connection to what was shared during the ceremony, it was exactly as we wanted it to be. It felt right.

And for those who’d like the short, visual version of our ceremony, here you go!

We laughed.

I cried.

Then our officiant, Scott, cried too.

As Mr. Lively says, I finally put a ring on it.

And we kissed.

So many thanks go out to our dear friends Kim and Scott for travelling, shooting, and officiating our wedding across the globe. They did a fantastic job, we couldn’t have picked a more perfect duo to travel and get married with.

I’d also like to thank our parents for sending such wonderful messages for us to read while we made such a meaningful commitment. Their words made our day more special than I could have imagined.

There will be more pictures to come from the rest of the wedding soon!


All photos by Kim of Yellow Brick Home



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  • Ah! Oh to do it all over again… THIS is what I would do. I love the intention, the personal nature of it and how it worked for the two of you as a lovely, personal way to start your life. Not just the big fancy ceremony you felt like you HAD to have. Congratulations Jess and the Mr.! Can’t wait to hear more!

  • That is so beautiful, Jess. So, so beautiful. It’s brought tears to my eyes. I think it is so wonderful that you took such careful planning to have a special moment that you and Mr. Lively can cherish forever. It really is inspiring.

  • So beautiful Jess. I’m tearing up over here. How special and wonderful. Just perfect in every way, in fact if my husband and I had to do it over, this would be the way to go (he would have been thrilled)! Can’t wait to see more beautiful pictures.

  • Congratulations! Your pictures are gorgeous! And your ceremony looks like it was perfect in every way.

  • Congrats, Jess! This seemed like the most perfect and beautiful wedding! I’m so excited to see what the future holds for Mr. & Mrs. Lively 🙂 Take care!

  • Jowhara

    Congratulations ! That ceremony was beautiful ! And you even more so. All the best for your future as Mr & Mrs Lively 🙂

  • Nicole

    Congrats, Jess! Your wedding looked absolutely perfect! And, I must say I don’t normally cry at weddings, but this post about your wedding and the heart and emotion you and your new hubby have, really choked me up! So happy for the both of you! And good for you for bucking tradition! 🙂 I love seeing people do their weddings their own way!

  • Kristen

    Like everyone else, I’m tearing up over here. The photos, the intentions, the vows, the location… everything was just perfect.

  • So so beautiful, Jess! A million more congratulations to you!

  • Totally tearing up over here… Just perfection. Congratulations!

  • SO thankful to have been a part of your big day! It was the experience of a lifetime. See you guys soon.

  • Your story makes me wish (just a little) that I had eloped. Even though our ceremony was traditional but very special, there’s something so sweet and inspiring about making it as intimate as you did. Being in the wedding industry means I am bombarded by inspiration boards, styled shoots, and new trends, etc. Yes, the pretty details help to make the day memorable, but some get so immersed in those details that they loose sight that marriage is really about the commitment two people make. I’m so thrilled for you Jess. You’re a wonderful inspiration to so many!

  • This is so great! I love the part that you did have letters from your families (looking back, that is something I would have liked to add to ours) and could that have been a more perfect location? (Our favorite spot in all of Paris where we would spend entire days).

  • Aw Jess! Looks like a wonderful ceremony. Congratulations!!

  • Ali

    Jess – This wedding is simply gorgeous and seems so fitting for you! You both looks stunning — just so happy to be there and with one another! Best wishes to you both. I’ve very much enjoyed following the details of your day. Keep them coming! 🙂

  • So precious and charming and breathtaking, Jess! Congratulations again. I just can’t get enough of this.

  • Just beautiful. I love everything about it, especially that your parents were a part of the ceremony though they weren’t physically there.

  • CB

    Looks just beautiful and perfect for you two!!

  • Luxembourg Gardens in Paris! In the sun! What a lovely moment to remember forever. Congratulations and many blessings to you both.

  • Your wedding looks so lovely and perfect!

  • Amazing. Simply amazing.

  • This is absolutely beautiful Jess. I’m so happy for you both – it seems like it fell into place perfectly! Congratulations again!

  • Marguerite

    Having read your blog for a few years now, it’s so wonderful to have watched you grow and succeed (through some difficult times) and now have the most perfect wedding for the two of you. Congratulations <3

  • This is so great! And such a reassurance that eloping and having a small ceremony can be a huge success. Congrats + God bless!

  • Ahhhh, that is so beautiful and wonderful and amazing! Congratulations Mrs. Lively! 🙂

  • What a beautiful, personal, and intentional wedding ceremony! One thing I love is that you still looked like you. What I mean by that is: many brides get so “done up” that they no longer look like themselves. You were able to choose a hairstyle and makeup that wasn’t too fussy and allowed your natural beauty to shine through… The you that Mr.Lively feel in love with from the start.

  • I love these wedding posts so much! Since we just eloped and, I’ll be honest, not everyone really understood our decision, I love hearing a story that’s similar to ours in many ways. I feel like someone else finally “gets” it. I love your description of time standing still – I couldn’t have explained it better. I think the decision to include your parents is absolutely genius!

  • This is perfect. What a perfect place. When I started reading I hoped it was going to be the jardin du luxembourg.

    The first time i entered that garden it was my first morning in Paris and I woke up early from the jet-lag. It was before 7am and kind of misty out still. I walked around the garden and its beauty and parisian-ness brought tears to my eyes.

    What a gorgeous ceremony! Thanks for sharing with all of us.

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  • The photos are stunning, simply stunning. What a magical day for you both!

  • I love this! And of course, you look beautiful + happy!

  • Jacki

    How wonderful! Just wonderful. <3

  • This is all so TENDER and sweet and you look beautiful and the pictures are amazing. Congratulations Lovely Livelies!

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  • Thank you for sharing this post and all the others about crafting a wedding that feels perfect for you. I’m inspired and encouraged by your brave ability to live into the fullness of who you are in every aspect of your life!

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