Surprise! Adam Rippon Married Fiancé Jussi-Pekka Kajaala: 'We Always Wanted to Do Something Simple'
They are, however, the kind of couple who secretly gets married in Los Angeles on New Year's Eve.
So, surprise! The Olympic figure skating medalist and Dancing with the Stars alum-turned-TV personality went and made it official with his Finnish real estate broker fiancé, whom everyone calls JP.
"I think everybody knew that we were going to do it and I think nobody knew if we were going to give them a heads up or not. And I guess we didn't even know if we were giving ourselves a heads up," Rippon, 32, tells PEOPLE. "Listen, we're unpredictable."
Rippon and Kajaala, 34, have long been set on the lowest of low-key affairs — but the actual ceremony lived up to the "logical and cheap" plan the athlete jokingly sketched out for PEOPLE last year. And, truly, no one knew. Not even his publicist.
As he tells it:
"We always wanted to do something simple and just the two of us," says Rippon. "And so we were looking at different options of what we could do and so obviously when you do that, the next best thing that you can do is you reach out to [California marriage officiant] Maria and you ask Maria: 'When is her next availability for a wedding?' And she goes, 'I have availability this week, but I also have something today.' And so then I said, 'Listen, Maria, we're on our way.' We're going to be there for the one o'clock appointment in Encino, California, the happiest place on earth.' "
Rippon and Kajaala had been considering other special days for their spontaneous nuptials; they had also already made an appointment with the city to get their license. But that process was taking too long.
"We've been waiting to do it for a while and we always were like, 'Let's just go and do it and just have it be finished and we can finally be married,' " Rippon says.
Enter Maria in Encino.
"We had some plans for the date, but then we just decided to do it sooner because New Year's Eve is not a big thing for us. We're in bed like 10:30," Kajaala tells PEOPLE. "So then we decided that, oh, maybe going to use this day for something special like this and now we have a great meaning for that day."
Which is how the couple — together with their 4-month-old pitbull mix, Tony — found themselves at a marriage service in Encino on Dec. 31 dressed in their "Easter Sunday Mass" best. ("It looks like a sweater," Rippon explains. "Easter Sunday Mass looks like a sweater." Says Kajaala: "We did dress up but nothing special. Like just nice stuff. We wanted to look like ourselves.")
Much of the wedding proper was just paperwork followed by a ceremony in one of the office suite's rooms, complete with an arch tangled with fake flowers and vines.
"It was like what you would get from the dollar store if you knew you had a wedding in five minutes," says Rippon, "but it was perfect."
Rippon says he surprised himself at the onset of emotion during their vows: "That was a moment where I wasn't expecting it to be so sweet. It was very sweet." Afterward, he admits, "I cried when I left."
In lieu of new bands, the newlyweds decided to use the same rings they had picked out together while in Finland before getting engaged in December 2020. "I wanted diamonds in it because I wanted it to glisten," Rippon says of his, while Kajaala's is "a thicker band that has a line carved in through the middle."
"He did not want diamonds in his. This was the great divide," Rippon says.
With the ceremony all done — and the couple officially husband and husband — they began to tell their families, with calls to Kajaala's parents in Finland and then to Rippon's mom.
Of course, they celebrated. "We were in bed by 10:30, but we got home and got right to champagne immediately," Rippon says. "No excuses. Winners don't quit champagne."
And now they get on to the business of the rest of their lives. Kajaala only recently relocated to Pasadena after some four years of long-distance dating. "I love it here. I love it. It feels like home," he says.
While he and Rippon are still adjusting to not having to ride the emotional roller coaster that comes with constant comings and goings — "You don't have to worry about calendar or how many days do I have left before I need to go back. It's so nice," says Kajaala — he will get some time on his own to settle in next month while Rippon is in Beijing for the Winter Olympics, where he's coaching national champion Mariah Bell.
"I'm actually really looking forward to it for him to kind of get his bearings because I know that when I've moved places, when I've been by myself, that's when I really explored and it soaked in," Rippon says.
"There's just a level of — you can take a deep breath where it's like the suitcases are away, everything gets put away and it's just like, that's it," he says.
The little adjustments come next: Rippon getting used to Kajaala redecorating; Kajaala having all of his stuff labeled by Rippon, who has a habit of late-night cleaning sprees. ("I need everything to match," he jokes.)
They rib each other — maybe Kajaala will add to his tattoo collection with one for his new husband, just so Rippon laughs every time he sees it — and they think about the future. Just a bit.
"We both love it here. I think we'll maybe want to get a bigger house eventually and have a big yard and a pool," Rippon says. Kajaala chimes in: "There's no rush."
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There are also no plans for children, but the couple do see themselves as dog parents. "My womb is barren and JP's tubes are tied," Rippon teases. "So we, unfortunately, are not having kids, but we actually feel really good about it."
And when the world settles down, it'll be time for a party.
"Here and then one in Finland, eventually. Not like a wedding, but just friends over, family over," says Kajaala. "Some good food. Drinks."
"I think we want to wait until it's safer to travel," Rippon says. "A lot of my family is out on the East Coast. JP's family is in Finland. So we want to find a way to make it work for everyone."
With a wedding crossed off their to-do list, they have everything else to accomplish.
"I think that's a tell-tale sign of being in a good marriage is I'm glad I did it," Rippon says. "That's my official quote: How do you feel? I'm glad I did it."
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