A Chilly Wedding in Chicago

The couple transformed their outdoor wedding into a cozy indoor celebration

Main Image

Photo by Laura Gordon

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.

getting ready white bridesmaids dresses
Photo by Laura Gordon
back of wedding dress and faux fur wrap
Photo by Laura Gordon

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.

soft pink roses and greenery bridal bouquet
Photo by Laura Gordon

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

brides and bridesmaids in all white and faux fur wraps
Photo by Laura Gordon
bridesmaids bouquets of just greenery
Photo by Laura Gordon
bridal party
Photo by Laura Gordon
bride and groom with wedding party
Photo by Laura Gordon

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.

bride and groom at altar flanked by drapery and flowers
Photo by Laura Gordon
first kiss
Photo by Laura Gordon
ceremony exit smiling couple
Photo by Laura Gordon

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.

flowers decorating the bar
Photo by Laura Gordon

Branches of white blooms overflowed from behind the bar.

bread for the table and floral centerpieces
Photo by Laura Gordon
bread for the table
Photo by Laura Gordon
Photo by Laura Gordon

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.

Photo by Laura Gordon

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.

reception exit send off
Photo by Laura Gordon

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!”

Wedding Team

Venue & Wedding Coordination: The Ivy Room

Bride's Dress: Anne Barge

Bride's Shoes: Jimmy Choo

Bride's Jewelry: Ippolita

Hair & Makeup: Nika Vaughan Bridal Artists

Groom's Attire: Suit Supply

Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux

Engagement Ring: Chris Turco

Wedding Bands: Chris Turco

Floral Design: Cornelia McNamara Flowers

Paper Products: Etsy, Minted

Catering: The Ivy Room

Music: Daniel Musisi

Videography: Amor in Motion

Photography: Laura Gordon

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