Bright Colors and Whimsical Design Transformed This Iconic Chicago Venue

The stunning, natural setting was totally unexpected: the Lincoln Park Zoo!

Updated 04/14/17

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

In July 2011, Jordan Ledger moved to Chicago for his residency at Loyola University. A few weeks later, friends introduced him to Christina Talarico, who became his official city guide. "Jordan is from Iowa and had never really lived in a big city before. I grew up in Chicago, so I took it upon myself to show him around!" says Christina.

After just over three years (and many sightseeing tours of the city!), Jordan proposed in December 2014, just in time for their annual holiday wine-tasting competition friends. "Jordan left 'for a conference' in his suit while I was at home cooking and prepping to host 40 people in our apartment that night," Christina remembers. "I had no idea he was actually picking up my engagement ring from his mom, who had traveled in from Iowa as a surprise." When Jordan came home, Christina was in the kitchen in yoga pants, and she turned around to find him down on one knee.

"It wasn't glamorous, but it was sweet and intimate, and it was the perfect moment," she remembers. "And we got to see all of our favorite people in the world just a few hours later to celebrate!"

For their wedding, Jordan and Christina knew they wanted to marry in the city they now call home, so they set out to put together a spring wedding that would give their guests a taste of Chicago. "We spent 18 months planning, mostly because that was the earliest date we could get at Café Brauer in the Lincoln Park Zoo," says the bride. The couple really embraced the season, and on May 21, 2016, 220 guests attended a colorful, whimsical wedding full of unique and personal details. With Tim Tab Studios behind the camera and the Chicago skyline in the background, this sunny and vibrant wedding was pure fun.

Take a look!

<p>Invitation Suite</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>Bridal Party Getting Ready</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

Invitations were a priority for the couple, who opted for floral details and cartoon-style illustrations. "We wanted something very unique and fun to set the stage for the night," Christina says.

The bride and her bridal party gathered in a suite at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago for primping, champagne, and the big gown reveal.

<p>Bridal Bouquet and Shoes</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>Bridal Portrait</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

"As soon as I put this dress on, I could see myself standing at the back of the church with my dad, about to head down the aisle," Christina says of her Mira Zwillinger dress. The A-line style featured a tulle skirt and appliqués that covered the bodice and trailed down the skirt. She paired her dress with nude Alexandre Birman sandals, a beaded clutch, and a peach and coral bouquet of roses, peonies, and ranunculus.

Bridesmaids and Bridesman

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>Groomsmen</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

With six bridesmaids and one "bridesman," Christina knew she wanted everyone to wear something that made them feel fantastic. "I asked them to dress in a neutral color palette, and they went from there!"

Jordan had nine groomsmen who all wore blue suits to match the groom.

<p>Bride and Father-of-the-Bride</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>First Kiss</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>Wedding Exit</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

Jordan and Christina wed at St. Viator Church. "It's where my parents were married, and I grew up attending services there," she says. The couple had a traditional Catholic ceremony, though Jordan did choose some instrumental Coldplay songs to give the proceedings a little bit of personality.

For decor, the couple kept things simple. "The altar is gorgeous, so we added only a few flowers, so as not to take away from the setting," says Christina.

<p>Wedding Party</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>Pink Peony Bouquet</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

The couple and their wedding party took portraits with the skyline in the background as guests were invited to wander through the Lincoln Park Zoo.

<p>Bride and Groom Kissing</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>Bride and Groom Portrait</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

"I'm so glad we decided to hire a videographer," says Christina. "The day is a total blur, and we were so wrapped up in emotions that it flew by. I watched our video on repeat and loved being able to relive moments and get a peek at the things I missed."

<p>Escort Cards</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>Overhanging Florals and Greenery</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>Peach Peony and Rose Centerpiece</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>Table Setting with Gold Plates and Pink Flowers</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

As guests arrived at Café Brauer, they were greeted by a beautiful escort-card display built by Jordan's brother. In honor of Christina's Italian heritage, each guest was given a jar with five white Jordan almonds to signify health, wealth, happiness, longevity, and fertility. Guests' names and table assignments were written on the front of each jar.

Beneath the venue's stunning high ceilings, centerpieces were swapped for hanging installations of roses, peonies, and lush greenery. "We wanted it to really feel like spring and wanted something that would stand out," says the bride. "We kept the linens and flatware relatively neutral so the flowers would be the star." Ruffled gold chargers were topped with white napkins and menus printed with an illustration of the venue.

<p>Lincoln Park Zoo Reception</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>Long Reception Table with Hanging Greenery</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>Hanging Greenery and Flowers</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

"We had candles absolutely everywhere," says the bride. Gold candlesticks added height to the tables, creating depth and helping to fill the open and airy space.

<p>Pink and Peach Centerpieces</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>Charcuterie Board</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

As guests were seated, they were greeted with a charcuterie board featuring buffalo mozzarella, manchego, prosciutto, roasted red peppers, cornichons, and fig compote. The salad was a seasonal mix of heirloom tomatoes, roasted corn, Humboldt fog cheese, and a beet reduction. For the main course, guests were served bourbon-braised short ribs with smoked-gouda mashed potatoes and gnocchi.

<p>White Wedding Cake with Watercolor Pink Flowers</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>Wedding Cake Watercolor Giraffe Design</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

"Our cake was hand-painted with flowers to match the invitation suite," says Christina of the four-tiered design. Layers of vanilla and chocolate cake were covered with salted caramel and vanilla buttercream and topped with fondant ruffles and handmade sugar peonies. The back of the cake had a surprise for the bride and groom: "Our baker added two tiny giraffes at the base of the cake," Christina says.

<p>First Dance</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

<p>Animal Cracker Favors</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

An all-girl DJ crew kept the dance floor packed all night, especially when they played the University of Iowa fight song. "Jordan and his family are all from Iowa and are diehard fans, and the boys got crazy," says the bride.

For a cute and personalized final touch, favors were customized animal-cracker boxes. "We included scenes from around Chicago and pairs of animals because the venue was in the Lincoln Park Zoo," explains the bride.

<p>Bride and Groom with String Lights</p>

Photo by Tim Tab Studios

Christina has a few great pieces of advice to share. "When you see a little white dress that you love, buy it!" she says. "Between showers, your bachelorette party, and the rehearsal dinner, you'll need the options, and as soon as you're looking for a dress, you won't be able to find anything!" She also has an important tip when it comes to budgeting: "Plan to possibly go over your budget, and have 10 percent extra just in case. Undoubtedly, you'll find something close to your date that you never thought you wanted, or something will end up being more than you'd planned.

If you prepare for these hiccups to happen, you won't be stressed about your budget when the final payments are due."

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Ceremony Venue: St. Viator Church, Chicago || Reception Venue: Café Brauer || Wedding Planner: Christine Janda Design & Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Mira Zwillinger || Shoes: Alexandre Birman || Hair: Ashley Young Styling || Makeup: Shannon O'Brien || Groom's Attire: Hugo Boss and the Tie Bar || Engagement and Wedding Rings: Steve Quick Jewelers || Invitations: Chicks n Hens || Flowers: Kehoe Designs || Favors: 6 Elm Designs || Caterer: Entertaining Company || Cake: Elysia Root Cakes || Ceremony Music: Parkwest Strings || Reception Music: Toast & Jam || Transportation: Second City Trolley || Photography: Tim Tab Studios || Videography: Shangri-La Wedding Films

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