Robert and Chloe Chung’s picture-perfect wedding at Hart House on September 26 – the first such event in 2021 – was momentous. This occasion signified the much-anticipated return of major life ceremonies to the beloved site on St. George campus. This classic setting that creates lasting memories for students and alumni, reminded us that love, joy and happiness can (with the necessary health and safety measures) outshine the pandemic.
When University of Toronto (U of T) alumnus and electrical engineering graduate Robert Chung and his fiancée Chloe began planning their nuptials, two years ago, they never imagined the event would be postponed twice; they and their guests would be masked; and hand sanitizer would be on offer at the signing table.
But despite these obstacles, the enchantment of their wedding day – the experience of a lifetime – was in no way diminished. Hart House, here for students and alumni at many key moments of their lives, was both the extraordinary venue for their ceremony and a meaningful extension or apex of Robert’s student experience as well.
Funnily enough, it was a wedding 12,000 kilometers away that brought the couple together. Robert, who was raised in China but had been living in Canada for two decades, met Chloe at a mutual friend’s marriage ceremony in Guangzhou (China) in 2019. Even more of a coincidence, they soon realized they shared the very same birth date in autumn. Surely, this was an auspicious sign.
“We couldn’t believe it. I even asked her for ID to prove it,” Robert recounts, laughing.
After the wedding, he returned to Toronto and began a long-distance relationship with Chloe. In time, they started to plan their own marriage. Virgos, Robert jokes, are highly organized people.
Robert Suggests Hart House; Chloe Affirms the Perfect Spot
While considering venues, Robert immediately thought of Hart House. As a student, he had been drawn to its history. “It was my idea because of my connection to U of T,” he explains.
He hoped it would meet his future wife’s expectations. But when Chloe first laid eyes on the House, she knew it was ideal. “It immediately occurred to me that Hart House would be the perfect spot to hold our wedding ceremony,” she says. “I like the architectural style very much.”
“As soon as we walked in, it was like WOW, we love it!” Robert describes the couple’s first look at Hart House as a possible wedding venue.
Chloe adds that they were also looking for a location where visiting guests could take in a truly breathtaking Torontonian setting before or after the wedding, given that many other well-known sites were not open. In this way, Hart House represented the best of the entire city. Chloe and Robert were additionally pleased that guests could walk around Hart House to further appreciate the surroundings, notably University College.
Hospitality Team Helps Couple Navigate COVID-Based Restrictions
With the location determined, Hart House’s Wedding Coordinator Tara Munro and Event Coordinator Michele Cheh swung into action. This team of professional planners works with clients to meet their unique needs, customize their upcoming events and ensure a welcoming atmosphere for guests.
“We heard that it was the first wedding at Hart House in 2021. We were really excited about that,” says Robert.
As health and safety restrictions evolved, Tara worked alongside the couple to rejig their plans. “We were grateful to have her working with us,” says Robert. “Her full-service events team provided the guidelines – such as wearing masks and bringing proof of vaccination.”
The couple had to make some tough concessions due to COVID-based dining and travel restrictions introduced by the Province of Ontario, the latter of which meant Chloe’s parents were unable to attend the wedding. Additionally, they had to change the wedding date a few times, reduce the guest list from 50 to 25 and hold the reception off-campus.
“Tara and Michele kept us in the loop regarding the latest developments. I’m very grateful for their flexibility and openness,” Robert adds, noting the peace of mind he felt working with such a responsive and accommodating team. “I would really like to thank them for that.”
Bride Creates Hand-Made Invitations
As the date fluctuated, the longest of two postponements being one year, Chloe put her graphic design skills to work. Seeking to infuse a hand-made aesthetic to their wedding, she made the paper for the invitations, then decorated the invitations with magnificent illustrations of Hart House and University College.
“I’m an illustrator. I love adding a personal touch,” she says. “I feel a sense of history when I look at Hart House, so I wanted to make the invitations reflect that, to make our guests feel our sincere gratitude.”
She also did this as a nod to her future husband. “U of T means a lot to Robert. He’s proud to have graduated from U of T. I wanted to highlight this special place: Hart House.”
“Far beyond what we had hoped for”
Entering Hart House on their wedding day is a memory Robert and Chloe will forever cherish. “The first thing that came to mind when I stepped into the Hart House quad was: It’s far beyond what we had expected and hoped for,” says Robert. As perfectionists, they both wanted everything – even the greenness of the grass – to be perfect. And it was.
“The décor team set up the flowers and candles. It was prettier than I could’ve imagined,” Choe recalls.
“I loved it,” Robert agrees. “It was totally worth all the stress that we had to deal with over the last two years. To be able to finally see this come true on that day meant everything.”
To learn more about Chloe’s illustrations, visit her Instagram
We were grateful to have Tara [Munro] working with us. Tara and Michele [Cheh] kept us in the loop regarding the latest developments. I’m very grateful for their flexibility and openness. I would really like to thank them for that.Robert
Special thanks to Bellevie for the permission to reproduce images.
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Many thanks to Greg and Jessica for their tribute gift to Hart House in honour of their recent marriage.
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