The pair got engaged back in July 2019 after dating for about two years

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The Bachelor's Jesse Palmer and Model Emely Fardo Are Married
Credit: Emely Fardo

Jesse Palmer has quietly tied the knot with Emely Fardo

On June 5, 2020, Palmer, 42, and Fardo, 35, said "I do" in an intimate ceremony almost a year after getting engaged.

With their nuptials taking place at a close friend's house in Connecticut, the couple tells PEOPLE exclusively that they previously postponed and then canceled their wedding in Provence, France, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"We were only able to invite a small group of close friends that live in the greater N.Y.C. area, and that were in quarantine at the time," the couple says. "We had a lovely afternoon and look forward to celebrating our love with our parents and immediate families all together soon!"

Adds the newlyweds: "Big or small, wedding party or not, we feel so grateful and lucky to have found each other!"

The Bachelor's Jesse Palmer and Model Emely Fardo Are Married
Credit: Emely Fardo

The couple, who got engaged during a romantic trip to Paris in July 2019, first began dating in 2017. 

"I've been so enamored, so in love with this woman and it only has grown. I'm head over heels for her," Palmer told The Daily Mail at the time. 

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Though Palmer and Fardo never publicly announced their nuptials, Fardo was wearing rings on her left ring finger in several of her Instagram posts. The model also uses Palmer's last name on her social media accounts and hashtagged a recent anniversary post with "husband."

"Happy anniversary to us!! I love you more than I love cheeseburgers!" she wrote in June.  

The Bachelor's Jesse Palmer and Model Emely Fardo Are Married
Credit: Emely Fardo

The news that the pair are married comes after ABC announced that Palmer will serve as the host for season 26 of The Bachelor. 

"For more than 20 years, The Bachelor has brought the world dozens of unforgettable love stories, including at one time, my own," the former NFL quarterback said in a statement on Tuesday. "Falling in love is one of life's greatest gifts, and I am humbled by the opportunity to return to the show as host this season to offer the newest Bachelor advice gained from firsthand experience and I am grateful to play a small part in his journey."

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"The secret is out!! So proud of you," Fardo wrote on her Instagram Story following the announcement.

Palmer's hosting gig marks his return to the ABC franchise after becoming the fifth Bachelor on the series in 2004. He ended his season in a relationship with Jessica Bowlin, but the couple called it quits one month later. The reality star is taking over for the first season of The Bachelor since longtime host Chris Harrison stepped down in February.

Though the season 26 lead has yet to be announced, The Bachelor previously posted over 30 photos to Facebook of women who may appear on the show when it premieres in 2022.