Kelli and Patrick flew from the US to marry in Paris last September. The couple decided to host their Parisian wedding in the grounds of the Notre Dame cathedral, which also doubled as an amazing backdrop for wedding photographs. Their simple ceremony was followed by a walk back to the hotel, with all the family and friends in tow, past the iconic book sellers which line the Seine river. The couple hosted a small cake and champagne reception in the courtyard of The Relais Christine before heading out for photos around Paris with the talented team at French Grey Photography.

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“We actually met at work: our first official interaction was staring across a conference room table at one another. He was the creative director and I was the strategy director on a new business pitch. We are a little bit of an advertising agency cliché I suppose! Patrick is the ultimate gentleman so it wasn’t until after about six months of friendship (and a lot of hint dropping and eyelash fluttering on my part) we finally began dating.

Two years later we were engaged during our annual ‘holidate’ on December 23rd. It’s a tradition we have to spend a day before Christmas just being together enjoying the holiday buzz all over Chicago. After several hours of holiday cheer we ended up at the exact spot where we shared our first kiss. It was about five below zero and we were standing in the cold shivering when he got down on one knee and proposed. To add an even more special twist to an already perfect day, he led me to one of my favorite champagne bars in the city where he had stealthily invited his family, a few friends and my parents (who snuck into town from Cincinnati) for a toast.


From the start we knew we really wanted something very small and intimate. We were both so happy to be together and didn’t want the craziness of a big day to overshadow that. I teased for several weeks that we really should just elope in Paris. Eventually we realized it wasn’t such a bad idea afterall. The city was romantic, we love to travel and eat so it actually made a lot of sense.

We are both very close to our families and the idea of planning the best family vacation ever was so exciting to us that it was without hesitation we dove in and made that the real focus of everything. The wedding day was really just one day in a weeklong, once in a lifetime trip for everyone we love most. So with that we began planning a great trip for our parents, siblings, their spouses and a few dear friends.

The ceremony itself took place behind the Notre Dame. You can’t reserve the space so our plan was to just cross our fingers and hope for good weather and no other weddings that afternoon. Everything went seamlessly- we had glorious weather and everyone else in the garden were really respectful of the ceremony. A few people applauded when I first walked into the garden and I think only one gentleman tried to get close enough to listen in. A ladybug even landed on my veil during the ceremony so I think that’s a pretty great sign. We didn’t really go for a ‘theme’ for the day as such, but I think we did a great job of embracing the joie de vivre of the French. We ate well, drank well, wandered the streets: it was all stress-free and lovely!


We didn’t see the need for a wedding planner: we love entertaining at our house so organising the wedding day and events leading up to it felt like an easy extension of something we already enjoyed doing. I also found that once I found one vendor it was like picking at a thread in a sweater. Pull that one string and a lot of other things come along with it. With enough sleuthing, the internet really has all the answers!


The only thing that really stressed me out was finding a restaurant that would take a reservation of fourteen people. Everything is so teeny tiny in Paris that it was a challenge to find somewhere that would accommodate a wedding party- even our very small one. Once we found Pamela Popo though, everything fell into place. It was exactly the charming neighborhood spot we had been looking for and they could not have been more amazing in planning a delicious wedding dinner. The room upstairs they set aside for us was perfect. It has an entire wall of book shelves filled with the quirkiest most interesting books. I believe the very entertaining ‘Boob’ book even made it into a picture or two!


The best decision we made was to keep it small and intimate just as we intended from day one. We had the most important people there with us and that is exactly what we most wanted. There were so many memorable moments the week we were all together, but two really stand out – the day before the wedding we arranged for everyone to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower in the late afternoon. So while the ladies brunched, we sent the guys on an all day mission to gather picnic goodies. When we finished touring the Eiffel Tower all fourteen of us plopped down on the Champ-de-Mars and enjoyed a delicious French picnic together. Everyone was happily tearing into fresh bread and cheese and sipping wine. It might have been our favorite meal of the week!

Another memory that will never fade, was walking with our entire family from the Notre Dame back to the Relais Christine for post ceremony champagne and cake. When you’re wearing a white dress, being trailed by a photographer and a large group of people it is amazing how many bystanders will wish you well!

The craziest thing happened the next day when a friend back in the states told us she saw a photo of our wedding on Facebook; it taken by someone she knew, but they were a complete stranger to us! This person had been touring around Paris that day, stumbled upon our wedding, took photos and randomly posted them as part of their collection from the trip. If we could repeat everything exactly as it was on our wedding day we wouldn’t hesitate to do it again!”

Photography: French Grey Photography | Ceremony: Square Jean XXIII on the grounds of Notre Dame | Reception: Pamela Popo and The Relais Christine Hotel | Florals: Estelle Preston | Cake: Sugarplum Cake Shop | Celebrant: Jim Leavey ( | Hair & Makeup: Harold James | Bride’s Dress: Morilee | Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade | Bride’s Headpiece: Paris by Debra Moreland | Groom’s Suit: Wilfred Newman | Car Hire: Paris Authentic

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