A Chilly Wedding in Chicago

Xin Pan has been making an impression on Wenna Jia since the beginning. The pair chatted occasionally through college, but one day Xin noticed that Wenna seemed sad. “He anonymously sent me a bouquet of flowers, but I quickly figured out it was him,” says Wenna. Together, they sought free food around campus, went on bike rides around town, and Xin even went to Chicago in the dead of winter to visit Wenna over break. He left with a cold, but the pair both came back for their final semester with something wonderful: A budding relationship! “We were determined to make up for lost time, building a bond that turned short walks between dorms to bus, train, and plane rides,” Wenna remembers. In 2015, Xin secretly took ukulele lessons, writing a song that he was saving for a very special performance. The day after Christmas, for the first time since 5th grade chorus, Xin sang for an audience— Wenna. “We’d gone through time, distance, chance, and change together," she says. "Saying yes to marrying Xin was easy!”

Wenna grew up in Chicago, and knew she wanted to get married in her beloved hometown. With guests flying in from around the country (not to mention Australia, Japan, China, and Norway!), they sought a central venue that would have easy access to shopping, restaurants, and bars to give everyone a taste of the Windy City. The Ivy Room at Tree Studios was just the place, with plenty of room for 125 guests but cozy enough for the pair’s October 28, 2017, wedding. “We watched the temperature drop from 70 to 35 degrees the week of our wedding, so having indoor space was amazing," says the bride. The pair focused on amazing food, a great bar, thoughtful seating, and a stress-free experience for their parents—and did it all in a dusty pink, ivory, and chocolate brown palette. Take a peek at the photos by Laura Gordon to see how Wenna and Xin made a drop in temps work for them.

After trying dozens of lace gowns, Wenna switched gears and tried a simple silk Anne Barge gown on a whim. “The sample was huge, but as soon as my consultant pinned it, I knew it was the one!” says the bride. She went back to the salon a few days later to purchase the too-big sample, and turned to a San Fran seamstress to take it down four sizes. The result? A gorgeous fitted silhouette with the perfect train.

Wenna carried a romantic bouquet of soft pink roses and greenery to complement the simple gown.

Wenna’s ‘maids wore all white, each choosing their own outfit for their bestie’s big day. Two chose jumpsuits and two chose dresses, creating a clean backdrop for the bride’s barely ivory gown. “I have to admit, I was pretty stressed running around looking for wraps at the last minute,” says Wenna, but the faux fur styles were the perfect unifying element. The bridesmaids didn’t carry any flowers, instead accenting their white attire with cascading bouquets of mint, olive branches, maidenhair ferns, and Andromeda vines.

Xin wore a made-to-measure midnight blue tuxedo from Suit Supply, while his groomsmen donned classic black versions from The Black Tux.

The outdoor ceremony was scrapped, but towering arrangements of seasonal foliage and dusty pink blooms were appropriated from the reception to mark the ceremony space. Wenna turned to her favorite TV shows for vow inspiration, including a quote from Leslie Knope as she described her love for Ben Wyatt.

Branches of white blooms overflowed from behind the bar.

Tables were draped in gray linens. Round tables featured low compotes filled with cabbage roses, mint, and chocolate cosmos. Long tables, draped with burgundy runners, featured garlands of bay laurel, accented with plums, artichokes, and pomegranates.

After a plated meal, guests hit the dance floor—and were treated to late-night mini cheeseburgers, Chicago-style hot dogs, and French fries. “We even ordered Lou Malnati’s pizza so our guests could try deep dish at the after-party,” says Wenna.

Wenna recruited Xin’s best men to help pull of a surprise on the dance floor: five dancing Pikachus! “Xin was a Pokémon fanatic in middle school,” Wenna says, with a laugh.

The couple kept planning on track with one key tip: “Write down a ranked list of the things you care about, and focus your energy on making the top three amazing,”she says. “It’s hard to attend other weddings an not be tempted to add more flowers here or another detail there, but in the end, it’s important to stick to your priorities!”

Page was generated in $time_elapsed_secs