Skip to content

Why we had a church ceremony before our big wedding

The Golden Girl Blog Weeding: Church Ceremony

Today I’m really excited to share some photos from our small church ceremony that took place on August 26th in Beverly Shores, Indiana! Beverly Shores is a place that is really special to us both. It has some deep roots for the Loftus family and some of our best memories as a couple have happened there. It also happened to be the first place I met Neal’s extended family–I remember us all singing to “Thunder Road” in the kitchen at the top of our lungs and I remember thinking how lucky I would be if I got to become part of this family one day.

I’ve mentioned our church ceremony in passing on the blog before. I got lot’s of questions from several of you who are trying to walk the balance between the dream outdoor/hotel/warehouse/etc wedding you’ve always wanted and the more traditional church wedding that maybe you, your family, or your significant other wants as well. It’s hard to please everyone, but I think this was a really great decision.

To give you some insight, I wasn’t raised with a religious background. Growing up on the West Coast, in my experience, religion just isn’t woven into family traditions and everyday life like it is in other parts of the country and the world. It was all a bit foreign to me when I moved to the midwest and encountered phrases like, “Oh, she’s a sweet Catholic girl” or “he’s a nice Jewish boy.” Where people had met their best friends at religious summer camp, for example, and often heard phrases like, “Oh! You grew up in X! My uncle is a pastor at X parish!”

It was a lot for me to take in. The Loftus family was so patient with me in dealing with my apprehension and complete naivety. They were great about explaining what was going to happen next in Church. Nudging me when I should stand or sit, meeting my uncomfortably blank stares with a smile. Explaining what something meant or why certain things are done this or that way. It was a big learning curve for me that was, at times, I won’t lie–very overwhelming, but it has made me a much more understanding, open-minded, and well-rounded person, and that is something I am very thankful for.

When it came time to get married, we knew that it was important to both Neal and his family that we get married in the church. However, it wasn’t what I had personally envisioned on my wedding day. We had a few other friends who got married before us who did their church ceremonies before their bigger festivities, so we knew that was a route that we wanted to go.

Back to my previous point–a lot of you asked why we did this, but a lot of you also mentioned you found yourself in similar positions, and asked if getting officially “married” in a church ceremony beforehand took away from the magic on the big day. Honestly, I really thought it would. I was upset about it, and I admit, I cried about it more than a few times, but after it was over, I was pretty ashamed of myself for acting that way.

It didn’t take away from our big day at all, it actually added to it. It was it’s own special day in itself–it not only made us feel even more loved, but it’s something that Neal, myself, and our family and friends will always look back on with really happy memories.

We kept the ceremony small and intimate–with immediate family only and siblings of Neal’s parents. (I mean, granted, that isn’t MOST people’s definition of intimate, but there are a lot of us ;-)) My mom flew in for the occasion as well.

We decided not to officially invite our wedding party because we were worried that they would feel obligated to come, when we already felt we were asking too much of them to fly to Portland two weeks later. Haha, many of them didn’t take no for an answer though, and informed us they were all taking the train and were coming whether we liked it or not! (They’re the best.) Of course, Kelly and Mitch were among them, and Kelly happily played photographer for the day! (Little did we know she’d have to photograph my real wedding, too! YIKES. More on that story over here.)

For the ceremony, I wore this linen maxi dress from Reformation. Neal wore my favorite custom blazer (the one he wore to propose in) and loafers to keep it classy but casual. The ceremony was under 20 minutes. Afterward we all went back to Neal’s parents house for Italian and lot’s of champagne. Of course, because we are the Loftus family, the party lasted all night and was so much fun.

Since so many people were bunking at the house, Neal and I got a hotel room at the nicest hotel in town–which happened to be the casino–haha! Obviously Mitch and Kelly came with us and we had a blast before finally going to bed at 5am. (Neal gave me a $20 to “play roulette,” which I lost immediately no thanks to Mitch’s hysterically atrocious gambling coaching :-P)

All in all, it was the best first wedding day/night anyone could have, and I’m so glad we decided to do it this way.

Want to see more photos? Scroll below!

The Golden Girl Blogger Jess Keys Chose A Church Ceremony Why We Had A Church Ceremony Before Our Wedding

Signing our marriage license!

Church Ceremony Wedding Before The Big Party Jess Keys Shares Why She Chose A Church Ceremony Wedding Jess Keys of The Golden Girl Blog Wedding

Me and my mom. Isn’t she the cutest?

The Golden Girl Blog Wedding

The Foley fam! (Neal’s mom’s side)

Jess Keys Of The Golden Girl Blog's Wedding Bands

First time with our wedding rings on! They are both A.Jaffe from C.D. Peacock. I absolutely love my art deco inspired band! (And it’s a great price, too!) More on them in another post!

The Golden Girl Blog Wedding

Mitch & Kelly. We love you. We’re the fourrrr bestt frienddsss that anyone could have!

The Golden Girl Blog Wedding

The littlest Loftus–Ronan! He has us all wrapped around his fingers.

The Golden Girl Blog Wedding Toasts

Wedding toasts all around!

Jess Keys Mom & Mother In Law

My mama and mama-in-law

The Golden Girl Blog Friends

Friends pic!

The Golden Girl Blog Husband & Wife Jess Keys Engagement Ring & Wedding Band

A.Jaffe wedding ring + Kendra Scott bracelet 

Wedding Toasts: The Golden Girl Blog

Toasts from Neal’s Godfather, Uncle Phil and Godmother, Tigger (AKA Aunt Sue Ellen). Neal & Jess after their church wedding
I love this one too 🙂
The Golden Girl Blog Wedding Guests
Obligatory “Kelly and Jess” pose!

Family Photo Post Wedding Ceremony

The Loftus side! (Told you there were a lot of us! Haha!)
The Golden Girl Blog Wedding Siblings
Siblings pic with Maura and Brendan.
Otto, The Golden Girl Blog's Dog
The newest Loftus, Otto! Hehe.
Family Photos After Church Ceremony
The Loftus fam!

Neal & Jess

And my very, very favorite photo of all <3

Do you have questions about doing a “pre-wedding” church ceremony? Ask them below, or message me on Instagram! We’ll be happy to answer them!

Thank you again to John and Julie and the entire Loftus/Foley family for making our church ceremony such a special one that we’ll never forget.