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Issue 34 NOVEMBER 2017

YOUR weddings & homeS magazine


participate in our competition



A converted quarry house

Honeymoon South African adventure

Couples share their stories


BRIDAL trends

contents ISSUE 34 · NOVEMBER 2017




HOME DECOR page 85


Weddings & honeymoons 17 27 37 45 57 69 87




our cover

DRESS: Randy Fenoli ‘Hello Beautiful’ at Ivory&Co. JEWELLERY: Anna Maria Camilli earrings and ring from the Dune collection, available at Diamonds International. BOUQUET: Debbie Cassar, Floral Artist for Romano Cassar, using callas, roses, berries, freesias and fillers. Location: Palazzo Consiglia, Valletta Photographer: Valentina Lupo ( valentinalupophotography) Photo Shoot Coordinator: Sarah Micallef Hair: Danica Aquilina, Dean Gera Salons Make-up: Jennifer the Make-Up Artist Model: Anastasia, Models M

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Issue 34 Saturday, November 11, 2017 Bliss is a weddings and homes magazine distributed with The Times – making it the largest weddings and homes magazine in Malta. This issue covers the period November 2017-March 2018. Editor Sarah Micallef

editor’s letter


s the days get shorter and the temperature starts to drop, it’s time to make yourself a warm drink and get cosy with Bliss Weddings & Homes’ largest issue of the year – the November issue! This time round, we follow the stories of four local couples and discover their journeys to planning the wedding of their dreams. From ‘Malta’s most fashionable wedding’ to the prettiest heart-shaped flower wall, a Maltese and Polish-themed day to a glorious garden affair, there’s so much to delight and inspire. Meanwhile, our trends pages bring you what’s hot in weddings and homes this season, and model Anastasia stuns in our bridal shoot at the luxurious Palazzo Wedding shoot Consiglia. page 59 Our honeymoon story takes us real home page 75 on an adventure in South Africa, while our featured home, set within wedding trends page 57 a converted old quarry, is an inspiring feat of design and determination. Finally, our vintage wedding couple offer a glimpse back in time and what it truly takes to make a marriage last. Enjoy the issue.


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Visit BlissMagazineMalta


Content House Group, Mallia Buildings, 3, Level 2, Triq in-Negozju, Mriehel BKR3000 Tel: 2132 0713 Distribution:

Design Box Design – Antoinette Micallef Printer Progress Press Ltd. Contributors Danica Aquilina; Jo Caruana; Jennifer Dimech; Marie-Claire Grima; Martina Said; Rebecca Anastasi Photography Alan Carville; Katerina Vella-Ryabkova; Mark Cassar; Kris Micallef; Valentina Lupo Advertising Content House Ltd – Tel: 2132 0713 publication sales manager Jessica Spiteri Catania Advertising sales coordinatorS Lindsey Napier; Marvic Cutajar All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written authorisation of Content House Ltd. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information contained in the magazine, the publishers cannot be held responsible for any errors it may contain.

Participate in our competition and you may win a 50ml bottle of Les Gourmandises de Luna by Nina Ricci, courtesy of Ta’ Xbiex Perfumery Ltd. To enter the competition all you have to do is answer the following question:


Send your answers, as well as your telephone number, to or in writing to Bliss Magazine, Content House Group, Mallia Buildings, 3, Level 2, Triq in-Negozju, Mriehel, BKR3000. Competition closes 30th November 2017. One entry per person. Terms and conditions apply. Last issue Evelyn Mizzi won a 50ml bottle of Nina Luna Les Gourmandis, courtesy of Ta’ Xbiex Perfumery Ltd.

Bridal Trends § NOVEMBER 2017 bliss 13



words by Marie-Claire Grima catwalk shots courtesy of Barcelona Bridal Week

Power Shoulders They’re not just for the boardroom any longer. Wide shoulders with fascinating and innovative detailing provide a highly appealing contrast to the flowing and feminine line of a wedding gown.. Left to right: Inmaculada Garcia, Carla Ruiz, Cabotine

High Necks Here’s a neckline that will certainly age well. From elaborate Victorian and Edwardian-style lace collars to sheer and chic necks that are effortlessly wearable, the high-necked trend is timeless and alluring. Left to right: Inmaculada Garcia, Cymbeline, Yolan Cris

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3D Appliques Three-dimensional details breathe fresh air into dress designs, packing major visual impact. With romantic flowers popping off an array of silhouettes, these dainty embellishments are lively, delicate, and whimsical. Left to right: Carla Ruiz, Angel Sanchez, Marco & Maria

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Of fashion, foliage and fiesta

When Roberta Sultana married Philip Sultana last July, social media was set ablaze. Hailed ‘Malta’s most fashionable wedding’ – a moniker which came as a surprise to the couple – their big day was a colourful feast for the senses, and served as a true culmination of the passion with which they put it all together. They share their story with Sarah Micallef. P h otos by Kr i s M i c a llef

rta Robae nd Philip ion ny locat ia ceremo del, Victor The Cita g venue weddin a, Ta’ Cenc Palin Palazzo

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ike many couples, Roberta and Philip’s story starts a little while back, when Roberta was just 16. “We’re both from Gozo and dated for a while, until I moved to Malta to study at University,” says Philip, who is three years older. When the time came for Roberta to join him at University, it made things more convenient for the couple to rekindle their romance. “It was the typical Gozitan situation. When you move to Malta you have your own apartment, and after dating for about a year, we thought it would be easier if Roberta stayed at my flat,” Philip says. Some eight years later, the couple have since embarked on their professional careers – Roberta as a primary school teacher and Philip as newly appointed head of design at a creative agency – and bought a house together, but while marriage wasn’t specifically discussed, it was always on the cards. “I think the plan was always to get married,” laughs Philip, “it was just the sequence that wasn’t really defined!” When it did come time for the proposal, Philip decided to push the boat out. Despite being a bit of a jack

I was going to start crying before I went in and managed to stop myself, but I was so emotional I couldn’t keep myself contained throughout. of all trades, he admits being useless in the kitchen, so thought a home-cooked meal would be just the thing to impress Roberta. “I asked a friend of mine who’s a good cook to help me prepare a meal.

Our friends were busy trying to keep her out of the house in the meantime – it was tough because on that particular day she seemed to really want to do something in the kitchen specifically!” he jokes. Ò

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Roberta looks back on the evening with a smile, adding, “our friends got me a bit drunk on Aperol Spritz before I went home!” Philip surprised Roberta with a romantic meal on the roof, and rushed to explain all the dishes he had helped prepare, before he forgot what they were! The proposal came soon after, though Roberta admits, “I think the meal was much more of a surprise than the proposal!” From then on, the pair set about

planning their big day, with the help of their large group of friends and family, who were all keen to get involved. “It felt like everyone’s wedding. We’d have wedding planning meetings at our house – Roberta’s sister loves weddings and helped a lot, while another friend loves gardening and helped with the foliage for the décor. Then there’s Luke [Azzopardi], who is a close friend and took care of the dresses,” not to mention our parents, who we'd like to thank for their support," the couple say.Ò

Crowning glory

ÓAs a fan of Dolce & Gabbana, Roberta fell in love with a crown she saw in a runway collection, and was lucky enough to track it down for her wedding day. “Everyone would tell her that she should get married wearing one of those crowns, but she always said she’d be too shy!” laughs Philip, and sure enough, that’s exactly what she did..

Themed cake

ÓThe wedding cake was also in keeping with the Capri theme. “We wanted to have lemons on the cake, but the cake decorator told us that they would be too big and heavy. Then, a friend of ours came across kumquats in the supermarket and suggested we use those – she even bought them for us! The cake itself was a traditional almond cake covered in fondant.”

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The pair were intent on Palazzo Palina at Ta’ Cenc for their reception, and chose the earliest date it was available, 22nd July 2017. It was the ideal location for their theme, which was inspired by Capri, and the Italian summer. “We needed a venue with lots of trees that we could hang lights from, and it really ticked the boxes,” they say. When the big day rolled round, Philip was up early, sorting out the last of the décor at the venue. “Everyone started panicking when they saw me, saying ‘you should be at home relaxing!’” he laughs. “I was home by about 10 and relaxed until it was time to get ready.” And while Roberta couldn’t be there to help him out, her mind certainly was. “We did a lot ourselves, so the evening before, we had gone to the venue to decorate, but we couldn’t leave the greenery in the sun or it would have dried out. In the morning I was a bit stressed as I couldn’t join them to finish setting up,” she reveals. “I had to send her a lot of photos,” says Philip affectionately, and Roberta admits, “I relaxed after seeing them.” Pulling up at the Citadel in her bridal car from Mik’s Garage, Roberta fought off the nerves before walking down the aisle, and admits to feeling emotional throughout the ceremony, during which Philip’s brother Matthew played the piano, and Roberta’s sister Stephanie, who is a soprano, sang. “I was going to start crying before I went in and managed to stop myself, but I was so emotional I couldn’t keep myself contained throughout,” she says. Philip, on the other hand, managed to hold back the tears. “When I saw her silhouette in the door of the church,

We just wanted everyone to enjoy themselves – not just our friends but even our older guests.

it was quite emotional. I was about to cry, until I caught my brother’s eye and stopped!” he laughs. The bride’s stunning dress, along with those of her bridal party, were designed by Gozitan designer and close friend Luke Azzopardi, and as the couple recall, came together in the last few weeks before the big day. “I always knew I wanted Luke to design my dress. We tried on a few dresses to get an idea of what suited me best, and he sketched it for me. I trust him and he knows what I like, so I left it all in his hands. We chose fabric from Camilleriparismode which I loved, though towards the end I did start to panic a bit, as he only started putting it together about two weeks before the wedding. I knew he’d do it of course, but I really wanted to see it!”. Meanwhile, Sarah Mifsud, the creative mind behind fashion print brand Saz Mifsud, who happened to be the witness’ girlfriend, also lent a hand in the last weeks to finish everything off. And while the bride’s look was certainly a show stopper, that’s not to say that the groom was left out of the spotlight. Sporting a custom embroidered suit jacket inspired by Italian singer Jovanotti, Philip’s outfit certainly completed the fashionable pair. Speaking of how it came about, he explains, “after seeing Jovanotti wearing an embroidered suit at one of his concerts, I half-jokingly suggested the idea to Luke, and it went from there. We came up with some sketches and I positioned them onto a photo of the suit jacket on Photoshop before printing them to scale,” he says, nodding in my direction. This is where I came in, when Luke recommended The Secret Rose for custom embroidery, and I was first introduced to the couple. Since then, Philip beams as he rolls up his sleeve, “I got one of the swallows from the blazer embroidery tattooed on my arm.” Ò

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It was like we had a bunch of animals behind a gate, and when the DJ played the first song, the gates were opened! Looking back on the day, the couple agree that the best part of it all was the party at the end. “From the moment we started planning, we knew we wanted it to be fun,” they say. “Everyone was waiting for the party to kick in, and I remember at one point someone came up to me and asked, ‘so when does the dancing start?’ I looked at my watch and said, ‘now!’” recalls Philip, as Roberta explains that there was still food to come out. “We quickly went to get the last course and cut the cake so we could start dancing. After that it was like a switch – party mode!” she laughs. “It was like we had a bunch of animals behind a gate, and when the DJ played the first song, the gates were opened,” Philip adds. “We just wanted everyone to enjoy themselves – not just our friends but even our older guests. I was quite impressed as they stayed till the end… the dancing didn’t scare them off!” Finally, asked if they had any advice to share, they both agree: get a checklist!

“We forgot a few things that we needed to do in the last week and had to sort them out at the last minute – we were printing the readings, which Philip designed, the night before the wedding,” Roberta says. “We just needed someone

to give us a checklist of all the things we needed to do,” Philip adds, offering a last word of advice, “finally, know your crowd. Having the craziest of parties isn’t for everyone – our wedding worked because it made sense for us!” n

Real Wedding § NOVEMBER 2017 bliss 27

A sunset celebration Maria Camilleri and James Psaila wanted to create a wedding that was just as beautiful as their love story, right down to the last detail. They tell Marie-Claire Grima how they made it happen. P h otos by Kr i s M i c a llef

rdia Ma an s Jame

ation Paul, ony loc l of St cerem Cathedra itan dina M Metropol nue ’s ing ve wedd , St Julian osa R a Vill

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aria Camilleri was feeling slightly queasy at a boat party when she first met James Psaila. He noticed that she was looking unwell, and went over to check if she was alright – and as they started talking, her seasickness made way for a different kind of butterflies in her stomach. The couple, both 27, have been together for nearly seven years. They wed on 27th May this year, in a stunning ceremony at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Paul in Mdina, followed by a lavish reception at Villa Rosa in St Julian’s. James asked Maria to marry him in 2014, during a holiday in Santorini. “I booked a restaurant with sunset views, to make sure it was as romantic as possible, but we got lost on the way there and by the time we arrived, the sun had already set,” James laughs. The sunset certainly wasn’t a deal breaker – Maria said yes and the two set out on planning the wedding of their dreams. “We wanted to do everything ourselves,” Maria said. “It was a huge project, but in the end, we knew that it would be totally ours.” Choosing the church and the venue was easy – the perfect dress however, proved more elusive. The two travelled

It was a huge project, but in the end, we knew that it would be totally ours.

all over the fashion capitals of Europe, from Barcelona to London to Milan; and Maria tried on creations by Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad and Berta, but nothing ready-made would do. Armed with a clear picture of what she wanted her dress to look like, she turned to Gozitan virtuoso designer Luke Azzopardi, who created a gown just for her, with a blend of hand-beaded Chantilly lace laid over pure silk satin and pure silk organza from Camilleriparismode. Ò

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Wall of fame The whole gown and Maria’s beautiful mantilla veil were adorned with 3D georgette flowers, hand-beaded and hand-applied. The silhouette was finished off with a cathedral-length silk chiffon double-cape, which, needless to say, looked incredible as she glided down the aisle of St Paul’s. The bride wore Louboutins which had to be imported from the United States – no stockist in Europe carried a size so petite – and she carried a perfectly round bouquet which matched the groom’s boutonniere. As Maria and James exited the church as husband and wife, guests released clouds of white balloons into the clear blue sky amid thunderous applause. “The ceremony was so beautiful, it was the best part of the wedding for me,” Maria says. Ò

The ceremony was so beautiful, it was the best part of the wedding for me.

ÓFlower walls have been hugely popular ever since the famous Kardashian-West wedding in 2014. Maria and James gave it a twist of their own with a lovely heartshaped floral arrangement by Floreal that served as a backdrop for photos.

Spirited souvenirs

Ó“We didn’t want to clutter up our guests’ homes with something they wouldn’t use, so we gave them something they could eat or drink,” Maria says. Guests took home tiny bottles of exquisite crema di limone, pistacchio, fragola and melone, which the bride and groom sourced and brought over directly from the makers in Sicily.

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The gardens of Villa Rosa, already a gorgeous venue to begin with, were dressed up to the nines for the occasion, which only took on a more magical air as the sun went down and the bride and groom and their entourage drew up in a fleet of cars from eCabs. Maria and James were influenced by the work of Jeff Leatham, the Kardashians’ florist of choice, and came up with the idea of a heart-shaped flower wall made of pink

and white blooms; they turned to Bjorn Borg from Floreal to execute it. It was a decadent and romantic choice, as well as the perfect photo opportunity for guests. Speaking of photo opportunities, besides the photographer and videographer, a Polaroid photographer took instant snaps of the guests that they could take home to cherish the memories. Guests dined on various

delicacies provided by Osborne Caterers from sushi and live-cooked shrimps and prawns to churrasco-style meat, and plenty of drinks were had, including the signature ‘J+M cocktail’ prepared by James Aquilina – The Mixologist. Whiskey aficionados and champagne lovers were well catered for as well, with dedicated bars for each drink, while the dessert table was filled with enough treats to satisfy any sweet tooth. Ò

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We could finally relax and let loose, knowing every single part of the day had turned out just the way we wanted. Music was one of the top priorities for James and Maria on their big day – they had a custom-designed stage built over the swimming pool that could support the band, singers and guests on the dancefloor. Gianni and Pamela Bezzina entertained guests until it came to the first dance – then, local legends Ira Losco and Ivan Grech from Winter Moods took to the stage to sing a duet of Xemx, as fireworks set off from the rooftop of Villa Rosa lit up the sky behind them. The effect was nothing short of magical. Meanwhile, brass band Versatile made sure the crowd made good use of

their dancing shoes, playing a medley of hits that got the whole party dancing. The celebrations were topped off with an after party inside the villa itself, with Ziggy on the decks. Maria changed into another Luke Azzopardi creation, a shorter but equally stunning dress, while James took to the dancefloor in a Burberry suit. The party kept going strong until two in the morning. “For me, it was the best part of the wedding,” James says. “We could finally relax and let loose, knowing every single part of the day had turned out just the way we wanted.” n

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h Saarna d Alex

ion ny locat ceremo hurch, Mgarr C a ij ar Santa M g venue weddin lletta Hotel, Va ia ic Phoen

From Poland to Malta With love When Berlin-based couple Sarah Vella and Alex Kutzias decided to tie the knot, they chose Malta as the perfect location for their wedding. They talk Jo Caruana through the international elements of their Maltese/Polish-themed day. P h otos by K ater i n a V ell a - Rya b kova

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here was a very international atmosphere at the beautiful wedding of Sarah Kutzias Vella and Alexander Kutzias on 12th August this year – as guests from 18 countries converged on our island to celebrate this special couple. But let’s start at the beginning. The story of how this charming duo met is quite a romantic one – it’s an Erasmus love story. Back in 2008, Sarah and Alexander were both studying in Antwerp, Belgium, and they quickly embarked on a long-distance relationship before moving to London together and, later, Berlin. Fast-forward eight years and the proposal story is equally sweet. “Apparently, Alex had asked my parents for permission to marry me when they were visiting us in Berlin,” Sarah says. “He then proposed to me on New Year’s Eve in Venice, eight years after we first got together. He went down on one knee to supposedly get a bottle of prosecco, while we were watching the fireworks

at midnight at Piazza San Marco. While there, Alex asked me for my glove to help with opening the prosecco bottle. And then the ring appeared and he popped the question. It was very romantic and I was very emotional! Funnily enough, all I could say during the proposal was ‘get up, get up’ so as not to draw a lot of attention towards ourselves. It was a very special, memorable evening.” Ò

I looked out at the church full of people and made a funny face to break the ice!

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The Malta-Poland Theme


Ô“We wanted to bring something from both of our cultures to the wedding. For instance, we chose to read out a Polish bidding prayer and a Maltese reading at the ceremony, while the rest of it was in English. As a surprise, Alex’s friends and family dressed up in Polish dress and prepared a song for us. We also symbolised our new start with Polish bread with salt and a shot of vodka, and had Maltese and Polish buffet tables at the reception.”

The Cake

Ñ“I insisted on a ‘naked’ cake as I am not a

The couple quickly started to think about logistics, and whether they should get married in Malta (where Sarah is from), Poland (where Alex is from), or Germany (where they live now). In the end they decided on Malta, but also held a party in Berlin for anyone who couldn’t make it here. They soon chose their local venues – the Santa Marija parish church in Mgarr and the Phoencia Hotel in Valletta, for an evening wedding that began at 5pm. “I grew up in Mgarr and my family is all from there, so the church has sentimental value and I couldn’t think of anywhere else I would rather get married,” Sarah continues. “I also fell in love with the Phoenicia Hotel as soon as I saw it, even though it was still being renovated – we could envisage how it would look when it was finished.” Ò

fan of icing. It wasn’t recommended because of the heat, but I was adamant – and everyone loved the result. The decoration was really fresh, original and pretty.”

Old Time Buses

Ò“Our international guests loved being able to hop onto a traditional Maltese bus, as many had never seen them before. It was really good fun to be able to ride together to the reception – and it became something of a party bus!”

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We spent most of the night on the dancefloor, having a great time with our loved ones from near and far.

Sarah says she was thrilled with the team at the hotel, who all worked hard to organise the ‘perfect day’. “We celebrated near the Rotunda and later near the Bastion Pool. It was the ideal setting. We had been a little worried about the crazy heatwave, especially as we had so many foreign guests, but we were extremely lucky that a lovely breeze prevailed that day,” she smiles. Already the couple looks back on a plethora of highlights from the day – although they especially loved having so many friends and family members with them from around the world – 18 nationalities to be precise! With this in mind, their celebrations actually started a couple of days before the big day, when they organised a beach barbecue for the guests who had travelled over in advance. They also created a website to help their guests plan their stay and to give them an idea of what to expect, and had a Photobooth and guest book by Photomaker Malta – Photoshaker Photobooth so the memories could live on. “There were so many special moments – one of which was walking into the church and seeing how beautiful it looked. That week was the Feast of St Mary, so everything looked extra special, and the flowers from Qronfla were dazzling,” Sarah says. Some of the other highlights came in the form of surprises. “Our parents were brilliant and so helpful throughout – and they

even organised a Kombi bar outside the church and fireworks at the wedding reception, by BG Malta Fireworks. The bridesmaids looked beautiful too, especially in their dresses by Ivory & Co and make-up and nails by Mateja Camilleri, while the groomsmen were dressed so smartly by JD Formal Wear. It was a very special day.” And it was emotional too – Sarah even choked up during her vows. “I’m sure it happens to a lot of people, but I really couldn’t get the words out!” she says. “But I just looked out at the church full of people and made a funny face to break the ice – and it worked. People later said they thought I had changed my mind, but I obviously hadn’t!” Now, the couple look back on the day wistfully and wish they could experience it all again. “Alex and I had such fun, and spent most of the night on the dancefloor, having a great time with our loved ones from near and far. Really, what could be better than that?” n

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You had me at hello On a perfect spring day last May, Danila Buontempo and Benjamin Galea tied the knot in an elegant ceremony, followed by a fun-filled reception surrounded by their nearest and dearest. The newlyweds share their special day with Martina Said. P h otos by M a r k C a ss a r


think it was quite obvious from the outset that we were infatuated with one another,” says Danila Galea Buontempo of the moment she and her future husband, Benjamin Galea met for the first time. “Ben was living in Scotland at the time, and came down to Malta to vote in the general elections of 2013. Through common friends, we met whilst having pre-drinks at a place ironically called Lucky Bar. We really hit it off that evening, and as you do, we added each other on Facebook. The rest is history!” Danila, an architect working as a consultant for a sustainability firm in London, says it wasn’t long until they realised that they had found their soulmate in each other. “As clichéd as it sounds, I knew he was the one quite early on in the relationship. When he came to Malta for a surprise weekend visit, it sealed the deal.” Ò

 Danil and a  Benja min cerem St Paul ony locatio n ’s Cath edral, Mdina wedd Villa B ing venue ologna , Attard

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After moving to the UK to be with Ben, a doctor by profession currently in his final years of specialisation in obstetrics and gynaecology in the UK, Danila says that it was no surprise they were heading towards marriage. “Despite discussing it numerous times though, I had no idea he would propose when he did – I was completely taken by surprise,” she says. “The proposal was uncomplicated, humble, corny and real – to me, it was perfect.” It was the week between Christmas and New Year 2015, when Danila and Ben decided to head to Gozo for the day. “When in Gozo, we always enjoy driving around in search of new places. To my surprise, Ben had never been to San Blas, so I suggested we go there. We lay on the beach, and he brought out a letter and started reading it. The letter was romantic, yet it didn’t cross my mind that he was proposing, since I was the one who suggested the location. When he got down on one knee, I burst out crying before eventually saying yes.” The couple began making preparations for their big day, admitting that soon after the proposal, they immediately booked The Big Band Brothers, even choosing a date to accommodate their busy schedule. With the band in the bag, they soon settled on the church and venue. The couple set the date for 6th May 2017, with mass celebrated at St Paul’s

As clichéd as it sounds, I knew he was the one quite early on in the relationship.

Cathedral in Mdina, followed by a reception at Villa Bologna in Attard. “We were initially exploring the option of Fort St Angelo – we were in love with the idea of having our reception at one of Grand Harbour’s most iconic landmarks,” says Danila. “However, it became apparent that the venue poses multiple logistical problems. Therefore, in keeping with our fondness of Maltese heritage, we chose Villa Bologna, which offered a stunning setting combined with practicality. St Paul’s Cathedral and Villa Bologna were both easy choices for us – two iconic Maltese heritage sites within a relative short distance of each other. We were inundated with comments from our foreign guests about how beautiful these sites are.” Ò

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The couple roped in the help of a wedding planner; primarily because they’re based abroad, but also because they wanted professional input in the organisation and running of the event. “We worked with Anna and Marvik Borg from Malta Event Design – they were extremely organised and professional, and went above and beyond to make it our dream wedding.” Danila explains that the stunning gardens of Villa Bologna served as the perfect backdrop for their wedding reception, which helped set the tone for the rest of the wedding. After struggling to find bridesmaid dresses in her initial choice of colour palette, steel blue, she settled on an elegant romantic theme to suit the gardens, further embellished with decorations they prepared in the months leading to the big day. For invitations, they opted for simple, traditional ones by Bonavia Offset Printers, featuring a black font on off-white twill board, covered with a paper insert. Ò

The proposal was uncomplicated, humble, corny and real – to me, it was perfect.

Flavourful and floral cake

Ó“We had a traditional three-tier cake on a classic silver stand. Each tier had a different flavour – almond, Baci and lemon, and all covered in white fondant. For the topper, we opted for ivory and champagne flowers cascading all the way down,” says Danila.

Belle of the ball

ÓDanila found her dress at the first bridal store she visited, David’s Bridal UK, and it turned out to be totally different to what she had in mind. “The dress was simple, yet elegant – spaghetti straps, an embellished corset with a low-cut buttoned back, and layers of flowing tulle. As per the store’s tradition, on selecting the dress I had to say ‘yes’ whilst ringing a bell. Needless to say, I was quite embarrassed.”

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“The majority of decorations were brought from the UK, due to the immense variety. Glass baubles with lit candles were hung on small trees, and we enlisted Mdina Glass to provide us with glass lanterns which were suspended over the band stage,” she explains. “The shrubs were lit with fairy lights and we had dimmed spotlights within the perimeter of the garden to provide a well-lit, yet romantic atmosphere. We were quite hands-on, and even built the initials D&B out of wood, fitted them with lights and placed them below the stage.” On the day, Danila woke up feeling calm following a restful night’s sleep, “contrary to my usual character,” she says. “I was determined to enjoy and cherish

I was determined to enjoy and cherish every moment as I knew that the day would fly by. every moment as I knew that the day would fly by. On the other hand, Ben was very nervous prior to the ceremony. To calm his nerves, he spent the better half of the morning pacing Sliema front and went for a cold swim at Ghar id-Dud.” The ceremony, she adds, was the best part of the whole day. “Just the two of us, at the altar, becoming husband and wife in such a holy setting witnessed by people who love us. It was a truly breath-taking experience.” The celebrant, Fr Stefan Attard, played a part in making the ceremony special and personal too. “Despite not knowing him, he was highly recommended to us, and also celebrated mass in English, which was important due to the number of foreign guests who attended. In the months before the wedding, we developed a special bond with Fr Stefan. As we got to know him so well, he celebrated our wedding in a very personal manner, and tried to involve everyone during the ceremony. He even invited people of a non-Catholic denomination to approach the altar

and receive a blessing during Holy Communion.” Danila and Ben’s wedding reception flew by without a glitch. The couple shared their first dance to ‘All you need is love’ by The Beatles, made extra special by The Big Band Brothers’ live instrumental rendition. For the cake, they opted for a three-tiered traditional wedding cake, each tier a scrumptious different flavour, which, together with the rest of the catering, was expertly prepared by Island Caterers. Asked to pick her favourite part of the whole day, Danila doesn’t hesitate to reply. “It was definitely walking down the aisle to a rendition of Ave Maria, accompanied by my dad, with an ever-sobbing and handsome future husband in front of me. Ben was so excited that he repeatedly lifted and put down my veil, unsure of how it was meant to stay for the mass. He also kissed me prior to the beginning of the ceremony – we soon realised that this wasn’t meant to happen, but thankfully the priest dismissed it jokingly. Looking back, the entire day was perfect.” n

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The Phoenicia a historic icon reborn More than 80 years after laying the foundations for Malta’s first luxury hotel, The Phoenicia has recently re-opened its doors following an extensive restoration project, preparing it for many more years of service. Martina Said meets The Phoenicia’s Rob Bruno, to find out about the hotel’s historic origins, its new look, and its extraordinary wedding venues.


s one of the country’s oldest and grandest hotels, The Phoenicia has more than stood the test of time. It’s held its own among a growing landscape of luxury hotels on the island, inimitable in its style, splendour and stateliness. After closing its doors for 15 months for a major refurbishment in 2015, The Phoenicia is back and even better than before, ready to accommodate the most discerning guests holidaying in Malta, as well as couples searching for the ideal venue for their wedding day. The hotel’s ornate ceilings, large doors, grand arches and art deco interiors

cannot be separated from the time during which The Phoenicia was constructed. Although works on the country’s first five-star luxury hotel began in 1936, its opening didn’t happen until 1947, after the end of World War II. “Lady Strickland, the wife of the then-governor of Malta Lord Strickland, saw potential for a luxury hotel in a prime location that would be beneficial to the island in the long run,” says Rob Bruno, the hotel’s Sales and Marketing Director. “Tourism back then wasn’t what it is today, but The Phoenicia always set a standard on the island, and although tourism boomed over the years,

the hotel has maintained a high level of service, and has endured the test of time.” Throughout the years, The Phoenicia has hosted a number of distinguished guests, not least Princess Elizabeth before she became Queen in 1952, who had a certain fondness for the hotel, particularly the ballroom. During her time living in Malta, while Prince Philip was stationed here with the British Royal Navy, she attended afternoon tea dances at the hotel’s ballroom on Sundays. With its most recent refurbishment, however, came some of the hotel’s greatest challenges. Ò

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The design of the Bastion Pool presents a contrast between the modern and the old, while highlighting its best features.

“The Phoenicia’s last major refurbishment was in 1993, followed by a smaller refurbishment in the late 2000s,” says Rob. “After a series of changes in the hotel’s management, plans began to take shape in 2014, when the hotel was acquired by an individual who immediately had the vision to take the hotel to a new, unprecedented level for Malta.” The hotel closed its doors in November 2015, which is when works on the property formally began. Campbell Grey Hotels was brought on board as a management company to guide and set the direction for achieving the grand plan for The Phoenicia, led by Gordon Campbell Grey, who is widely recognised as one of the world’s top hoteliers with a passion for detail and service. Finding the right designers for the job was the next step, Rob says, and established UK interior designers Mary Fox Linton and Peter Young, both with immense experience designing top-class hotels, were the right fit.

Despite its scheduled opening, the renovation project hit some bumps in the road when a wall of historical value was discovered in the area intended to house the plant room, causing delays in the hotel’s re-opening. However, just like the obstacles back in 1936, the overdue wait was well worth it. The Phoenicia hotel made its mighty comeback in May 2017, and besides re-ascertaining its position as a leading hotel on the island, it also became the first hotel locally to

become a member of the Leading Hotels of the World – a consortium of around 400 of the world’s top hotels, putting The Phoenicia on par with the likes of The Savoy, The Ritz and hotel Baur Au Lac. Besides its appeal to visitors, The Phoenicia has lots to offer to locals, particularly those after a distinct venue for their wedding day. The hotel’s main wedding venues are the Bastion Pool and the Grand Ballroom, followed by the Gazebo, the Rotunda, and the

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The Phoenicia always set a standard on the island, and although tourism boomed over the years, the hotel has endured the test of time.

Green Lounges, the latter three more appropriate for smaller weddings. “The Bastion Pool is our leading venue, and while it was already beautiful before, it is even more so now,” says Rob. The narrow garden passage leading to the Bastion Pool creates a romantic feel and air of expectation, and the features surrounding the venue, especially the bastions running by the side of the infinity pool and the gardens, give it an exceptional ambience. “The design of the area presents a contrast between the modern and the old, while highlighting its best features, namely the bastions, the pool, and the spectacular views over Marsamxett harbour. Additionally, although this outdoor venue is on the outskirts of a busy capital city, within the historic walls is quiet and tranquil, and the views it commands make it a perfect setting for a gorgeous evening wedding.” The Grand Ballroom is The Phoenicia’s most sought-after indoor venue, replete with impressive architectural details, new wooden flooring, and its very own

private entrance. “Due to its historical importance, a lot of work went into documenting and faithfully replacing damaged parts of the venue, as well as restoring all of its existing features and upgrading its services,” says Rob. “Both venues have their own dedicated kitchen, so that all catering for a wedding can be done on location by a devoted team. Also, whenever we take a booking for an outdoor wedding, we automatically block a suitable indoor venue as a back-up, and the natural back-up for the pool area is the ballroom. Therefore, we never book more than one wedding on the same day. To this end, The Phoenicia has the advantage that the back-up venue for outdoors is an equally beautiful and prestigious venue inside.” While the Bastion Pool, which is only available for evening weddings, has a capacity of up to 1,000 people and the Grand Ballroom up to 800, Rob asserts that both venues can be set up in such a way to accommodate half of their maximum capacity, through the skilful positioning of bars, tables and furniture. The venues, however, aren’t the only part of The Phoenicia’s weddings product offering that have changed. “Our chef, Daniel Debattista, has a lot of experience in his field, and has brought new, fresh ideas to the table which he expresses through his menus. This puts The Phoenicia ahead in what it’s offering, striking a good balance between flavour and simplicity, allowing the natural flavours of every ingredient to be articulated,” says Rob.

Apart from its stunning architecture, interiors and location, The Phoenicia offers a guarantee of quality; a factor that the hotel always prided itself on, that every member of the hotel is dedicated to achieve, and that is at the top of their list of priorities every day. “Another key aspect of our staff is experience – members of the team, who have worked either at the hotel or at other highly reputable hotels and venues for a long time, are dedicated to finding the ideal wedding set-up for every guest. This, combined with our guarantee of quality brings me to another important factor,” says Rob. “The Phoenicia doesn’t offer a ‘one size fits all’ package. Each event and wedding is different – we pride ourselves on tailoring the offering to every couple’s requirements, bringing their ideas, tastes and individuality, together with the input of our experienced team, to fruition.” Chrystelle Doublesin, The Phoenicia’s dedicated Weddings Executive, sees the couple through the initial inquiry all the way to cutting the cake, poring over all details and arrangements that the couple want for their wedding day. At a later stage, Rob boasts, the Banqueting Manager, Philip Lanzon – who’s been working at the hotel for 35 years and has encountered and solved every problem imaginable throughout his career – steps in to discuss the set-up for achieving the ideal ambience and vibe for a wedding. Together, with the help of the rest of the team, they leave no stone unturned in helping couples achieve their vision for their wedding day.n

Wedding Trends § NOVEMBER 2017 bliss 57

Drip wedding cakes

ÑThe traditional almond wedding cake will always be a popular choice locally, but more couples are turning to trendier designs for their special day, the latest being drip wedding cakes featuring molten chocolate, caramel or icing dripping down the sides in the most mouth-watering way.

Chalk art

ÒEngage your creative streak with a spot of wedding DIY through a rustic, personalised chalkboard with a message of your choosing. Prop it up to highlight a food or drink stand at your wedding, to share your favourite romantic quote or simply to welcome guests with a bespoke sign displaying artistic calligraphy.

Marble décor

ÔElegant, classic and a perfect pairing with another trending colour, rose gold, marble accents can truly elevate a wedding to sophisticated heights. Be it in the form of candleholders for centrepieces or for wedding invites, it’s a naturally beautiful material that complements many a wedding palette.

Wedding trends

2017 may be coming to an end, but it’s been a year filled with exciting wedding trends that don’t seem to be going anywhere fast. From marble accents to the rise and rise of gin, here are some of our favourites.

Oliver Bonas

Baby’s breath

ÑBaby’s breath is commonly the understudy rather than the star in wedding flower arrangements. However, its delicate appearance has made it a popular choice as a beautiful flower in its own right, and not just as a filler. From the groom’s boutonniere or bride’s bouquet to gorgeous centrepieces, baby’s breath is finally enjoying the limelight.

ÒStations at weddings are nothing new, but innovative drink stations beyond the usual cocktail bar are picking up, and gin is leading the way. Set up a self-service or manned gin bar, complete with a handful of different types of gins, tonics and other mixers, as well as a selection of complementary fruit and garnishes, such as lemon wedges and berries.

Gin bar

Fashion ยง NOVEMBER 2017 bliss 59

Refined beauty Location: Palazzo Consiglia, Valletta Photographer: Valentina Lupo (www.facebook. com/valentinalupophotography) Photo Shoot Coordinator: Sarah Micallef Hair: Danica Aquilina, Dean Gera Salons Make-up: Jennifer the Make-Up Artist Models: Anastasia, Models M. Lexi & Max (flower girl and page boy).

DRESS: Atelier Pronovias at Ivory&Co. JEWELLERY: Zoccia earrings available at Diamonds International.

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DRESS: Beautiful bridal gown in different subtle shades makes this dress enchanting and magical. Embellished back straps complete this modern princess look. Exclusively available at WEDDINGBELLS. JEWELLERY: Broggian necklace, bracelet and ring available at Diamonds International.

Fashion § NOVEMBER 2017 bliss 61

DRESS: This gorgeous gown has delicate spaghetti beaded straps with a sheer sweetheart neckline. It features a stunning beaded belt and cascading appliquĂŠs on to a soft romantic tulle skirt. There is also subtle soft pink embroidery throughout for that touch of difference, Dianne Josephine Bridal Couture. JEWELLERY: Damiani necklace and earrings from the Eclisse collection, available at Diamonds International. BOUQUET: Debbie Cassar, Floral Artist for Romano Cassar, using callas, roses, berries, freesias and fillers.

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DRESS: Elegant bridal gown featuring delicate beaded lace and scalloped open back, La Gatta Couture. JEWELLERY: Mikimoto necklace, bracelet and earrings, available at Diamonds International.

Fashion ยง NOVEMBER 2017 bliss 63

LEXI: Party dress, tights, glitter shoes, navy bow and velvet bag. MAX: Waistcoat and shirt set, matching trousers and brogue shoes. All available at Monsoon Children, Bisazza Street, Sliema.

64 bliss NOVEMBER 2017 ยง Fashion

DRESS: Pronovias Fiesta at Ivory&Co. JEWELLERY: Damiani necklace and earrings, available at Diamonds International.

Beauty § NOVEMBER 2017 bliss 67

A word from

Jennifer the Make-Up Artist What advice would you give brides-to-be in terms of skin preparation in order to ensure that they look great on their big day? And when do you suggest they should start this preparation? It is important for all of us to take care of our skin everyday… but the stress you go through before the wedding makes it more important to take care of your skin. Skin preparations need to start at least six months ahead of the big day – it is very important to drink lots of water, as water keeps your skin hydrated and this will make it easier to apply the right products. You don’t want to look dry on your big day, but nice and glowing! Do you recommend that brides and bridal parties carry out make-up trials before the actual day? Yes it is very important to do a trial. First and foremost this is beneficial for the bride to build a relationship with the make-up artist and for the latter to be aware of whether the bride and her party have any allergies or particular reactions to certain products. It is also important for you to be comfortable in your own skin on your day, and not scared of what or how the look might suit you. A trial will definitely contribute to ensuring that you are confident and relaxed on the day. What are the current looks of the season for brides? And how do they vary between day and evening weddings? I don’t really believe that one should follow fashion trends in the world of bridal make-up, for the simple reason that you will be looking at your wedding photos for many years to come,


long after current trends disappear. The safest bridal look is a glowing, natural, soft look. Having said that, I do not discourage brides who want to experiment. It is just very important for the bride to be comfortable on the big day. Morning make-up should be more matte due to exposure to the heat and sun, and it should be subtle, as you have to keep in mind that there will be natural daylight. In the evening you can apply more shine and shimmer, and give an overall heavier application to the eyes. Do you offer guidance to your clients on the type of make-up they and their bridal party should go for? Can you share any? Yes I do. This is the main reason why it is important for me to meet clients ahead of their big day and to follow up with makeup trials. I normally stress that your bridal party is comfortable and happy with the look… that each individual wears the look that suits her using the same colour scheme, to achieve a cohesive look for the party. Do you have any tips you can share to ensure that make-up stays on for longer during the big day? You will definitely need to touch up your lipstick and maybe powder up a bit during the wedding. You want to look good throughout the wedding and in all the photos! The advice I like to share overall though is: less is more. n Contact Jennifer on M: 7923 2369; E:; Fb: Jennifer The MakeUp Artist

"I’ve had a passion for art and beauty since I was very young, and my inspiration in those early days was local make-up artist Diane Nikolic. Today, through hard work and dedication, I can proudly say that I have realised my dream of working in the make-up industry. I believe that everyone is beautiful and I love the fact that through my work, I make my clients feel comfortable in their own skin, with a natural flawless look. My greatest satisfaction is receiving grateful messages and seeing my clients’ happy faces. I specialise in high fashion, celebrity and bridal make-up, and my dream is to become an international make-up artist, working with international designers and campaigns – I have actually started this beautiful journey as I have recently come back from the Milan, Paris and New York fashion weeks. I believe in aspiring high and that nothing is impossible!" Jennifer is the official make-up artist for Bliss magazine as well as Malta Fashion Week Award-Winning Make-up Artist 2017.

Honeymoon § NOVEMBER 2017 bliss 69

The heartbeat of

South Africa From baboons running around in the wild to hippos grazing and a close encounter with a grasshopper – Ben and Lisa Grima talk to Rebecca Anastasi about their adventures on honeymoon in South Africa.


ewlyweds Ben and Lisa Grima had always dreamt of going to South Africa. “We wanted something different to the norm as a honeymoon destination. Europe is lovely, but we wanted to experience a different culture and lifestyle,” they say. They spent a whole month abroad – “a break very much needed after finishing off a house and planning a wedding!” The journey to Cape Town took 17 hours, with a three-hour lay-over in Dubai, but the flights were comfortable and South Africa’s time zone is the same as Malta’s, so jet lag wasn’t a problem. “We hired a car and drove around South Africa for the initial two weeks. For the first five nights, we were based in Cape Town. We tried to see all the top sites; we went up to Table Mountain where we saw spectacular views of the city and then headed off to Signal Hill to view it from the other end. We also visited the penguin colony in Boulder’s Beach and took a day trip to Robben Island, which was very interesting,” they explain. But the main aim of the visit was to get close to the incredible wildlife the country has to offer, and they didn’t have to wait long to witness some wonderful species. “Whilst driving around the Cape of Good Hope, we encountered baboons running around in the wild as well as a herd of ostriches crossing the roads and roaming around the rocky lands,” they recall. Meanwhile, driving along the route, one of their first stops was Hermanus, best known for whale-watching and shark cage diving. They continued to Swellendam, Mosselbay, George and Wilderness, finally arriving in Knysna where they spent two nights. “We had the most spectacular accommodation there – a ‘tree house’ right in the heart of a forest on a hilltop. Whilst in

We felt like little kids, sitting at the back, looking out of the window and spotting wild animals!

Knysna, we visited an elephant sanctuary where we interacted with these magnificent animals. What we loved here is that they care for elephants that have been hurt in the wild and would have not survived if left alone,” the couple maintain. Lisa and Ben also toured the wine region, starting off with Montagu and then on to Franschhoek, driving past Ashton, Robertson and then via the spectacular Franschhoek Pass into the picturesque Franschhoek Valley: “we fell in love with this place, not just because we are both wine-lovers, but also due to the landscape and surroundings! One of our best days on our honeymoon was here, as we spent a day on a wine tram which goes around various wineries in the area where you can stop and taste different wines paired with a variety of dishes. The tram is the best way to see the wineries and landscape; with the benefit of drinking and not driving!” The next day, they drove back to Cape Town to take their flight to Johannesburg for the next stage of their adventure: a safari in Kruger National Park. Excitement started to build as soon as they arrived at their lodge on the border of the park, when they saw hippos grazing while they ate dinner. Ò

70 bliss NOVEMBER 2017 § Honeymoon

The next day, the newlyweds made their way in with their guide. “Whilst driving, we were constantly on the lookout for wild animals. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable, and she followed the various animal noises to identify where the animals were. We felt like little kids, sitting at the back, looking out of the window and spotting wild animals. It was spectacular,” they recall affectionately. The following day, the pair continued driving into the park towards Kapama Game Reserve, which they describe as “pure luxury”, spotting more animals on the way. Whilst there, they settled into a routine of eating, going out on safari and relaxing. “We’d go out on two game drives a day, one very early in the morning and one late in the evening. Having to wake up at 6am on your honeymoon is not quite the definition of relaxation, but it was worth it! We had a brilliant time at the Kapama Game Lodge, especially since we managed to see all the Big Five animals (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo) more than once!” Ben and Lisa exclaim. “One of the funniest moments (though not so much for Ben) happened while driving in Kruger Park. On these safaris, no one is allowed out of the vehicle unless in designated zones, for safety reasons. So, we were driving and Ben was happily taking photos with the window down when, suddenly, we heard lots of noise and many small ‘objects’ hit the car. The guide told us to roll the window up – they were grasshoppers, and Ben is petrified of them! Unfortunately, we weren’t fast enough and we saw something fly past us to the back of the car. One had made it through! In a state of panic, the guide stopped the car and Ben scrambled to get out but he wasn’t allowed to, so we had to jump over the seats for the guide to be able to release the insect!” Despite the incident, both Ben and Lisa count the safari experience as the highlight of their trip. “Being so close to the animals in their natural habitat was special,” Lisa says, though as Ben hastens to add, “and at times a bit scary!” Still, he affirms,

Having to wake up at 6am on your honeymoon is not quite the definition of relaxation, but it was worth it!

“seeing those wild animals roam freely was incredible. Being a photo-lover, that was by far the highlight of the honeymoon.” After their last morning safari, the couple flew back to Johannesburg and made their way to Mauritius, where they spent their final week getting some well-deserved rest. Do they have any tips for other couples interested in South Africa for their honeymoon? “We booked our trip through Royal Travel, and would definitely recommend going through a travel agent as this makes the process much smoother. It’s very convenient to have a contact person there if you need them – it put our mind at rest. South Africa is safer than expected, and very well priced both in terms of food and drink, as well as shopping in general. We would go back in a heartbeat, though there are other lovely areas in Africa which we also hope to visit!” n

Wedding Venues § NOVEMBER 2017 bliss 73

Your wedding at

Valletta Waterfront

Located close to central Valletta, Valletta Waterfront offers the perfect backdrop for your wedding, with flexible indoor and outdoor options. Eighteenth-century warehouses with their iconic coloured doors stretch along the water’s edge against a backdrop of historic fortifications and venues.

Under the Marquee: Located on the Valletta Waterfront quays, the marquee offers protective cover for up to 1,400 persons in a uniquely magical location.

Magazino Hall: Renowned for its

versatility, Magazino proudly displays its historical features from a glorious past. Built in 1727 to store oil for street lamps, it was later incorporated in the island’s first power station. Once inside, there is an impressive arched ceiling and the golden limestone glistens with the cast of soft lighting. An adjoining outdoor courtyard nestled among the historic bastions can be used as a breakout area or as a standalone venue. Magazino can comfortably accommodate 400 persons.

Old Power House: The original

building came about during the construction of Floriana’s fortifications in the 1700s. This building has taken many

turns in history, before being transformed and operating as Malta’s first electricity production plant. This building offers a fascinating layering of spaces and reflects the multiplicity of activities forming part of Malta’s Grand Harbour over the centuries. The rustic structure with high ceilings displays an interesting contrast between the old and the new.

Under the Stars: The possibilities are

endless – the open-air venue is an artistic blank canvas with the Grand Harbour as a backdrop on one side and the Valletta Waterfront buildings on the other. The location is breath-taking and lends itself to the typical Mediterranean al fresco lifestyle.

The Sagrestia Vault: Located directly on the Valletta Waterfront is a hidden treasure unknown to most – the Sagrestia Vault. Annexed to the 17thcentury vault is a small but beautifully detailed chapel dedicated to the Flight of the Holy Family to Egypt. In combination with the Sagrestia Vault, the Chapel can be utilised as a receiving area. It is truly a little gem on the Valletta Waterfront. The Promenade: A 275-metre strolling promenade offers the perfect staging with a variety of outlets, also with a private area, for more intimate weddings. Civil wedding ceremonies can be officiated in Magazino Hall, and also on the quays. Meanwhile religious weddings can be celebrated in the Chapel on the Valletta Waterfront. One may opt for the caterer of choice in any of the venues. Parking for coaches, minibuses and private cars is readily available. n For further details or to view any of the venues contact Anna Maria Cardona Schranz or Christian Saliba on T: 2567 3114; E:

Home § NOVEMBER 2017 bliss 75

Set in stone

Sarah Micallef visits a unique house with an interesting past, and discovers its distinctive history and challenging conversion story. Ă’ P h otos by Al a n C a rv i lle

76 bliss NOVEMBER 2017 § Home


s you walk into the entryway of this picturesque house on the outskirts of Gharghur, you soon realise it’s quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The reason? It’s actually a converted old quarry. “The house is made up of two parts: the main house and a number of adjacent rooms which were built up over the years and used for storage. In the main section, the ground floor housed the animals which were used when the quarry was in operation over 100 years ago,” the owners explain, speaking of a time before machinery took the place of manual labour. This area now makes up the dining room, TV room, living room and kitchen, while the floor above, where the quarry owners themselves used to live, now houses the master suite, comprising the main bedroom, walk-in wardrobe and shower area. A newly-built corridor links the two sections of the house, leading you to another two bedrooms with their own ensuite, laundry room and study. Beyond the house, however, is truly the defining feature of this exceptional property – the garden – which lies on the quarry itself. “The garden has a number of different levels. As one area was quarried, the workers would shift the offcuts to one side and create one level there, and then do the same thing as they made their way through the garden,” they explain. The owners bought the place towards the end of 2012, and, signing the contract in 2013, gave themselves a year to do it up, from permit to moving in. This is no mean feat with any property, but when they reveal the state it was in at the start, the timeline beggars belief. “The old quarry owners were a number of siblings, and the last two that actually carried on living and working here used to live off the place,” they explain, as they point out areas where small holes were used to catch rabbits. “There was no water and no electricity, and lots of wells. Everything was totally raw, and that’s how we found it. The garden was very overgrown as it had not been tended in about 20 years, and the building was totally unconverted with absolutely no services at all.” Ò

The ground floor housed the animals which were used when the quarry was in operation over 100 years ago.

Home § NOVEMBER 2017 bliss 79

Still, with both owners working in the construction and finishes industry, they were undeterred, and got the job done in the planned time, save a few titbits. “We did move in with a couple of bits missing, like the front door and the staircase. When we moved we had to go up to our bedroom for the first couple of weeks using a ladder,” they laugh. The process was kicked off with bringing new trees into the garden, in order for them to be as mature as possible when it came time to move in, and what followed was a year of intense hard work. “It involved lots of arguments and lots of time on site to get it all done. A lot of the decisions were actually made onsite, both because it’s an old house and also because we wanted to get it done quickly – but because we work in the field, they were also easier to make,” they explain. “At the time we lived on the other side of the island, so getting here early in the morning was a nightmare, but it was constant presence and quick decisions that got it done in the timeframe.” The main objective was to keep the house as close as possible to how it was,

so while they did drop the walls between the rooms and the courtyard within the main house to open it up, “every stone we dismantled was reassembled as it was, so it was all very much self-contained,” they say. Ò

80 bliss NOVEMBER 2017 § Home

The exterior of the house, made up of stone which was quarried on site, was also left in its original state, with minimal pointing. “We carried out repair works to strengthen the roofs and so on, but we left the footprint as it was. We just built the corridor, which links the two buildings together.” Meanwhile, an element which is often overlooked with projects of this type is their impact on the environment – a feature which these homeowners had at the forefront of their minds during the project. “A house like this can have quite a high CO2 footprint, so we tried, wherever possible, to put in systems to generate and use as much of our own electricity and water as we can. We have four huge

wells, and we’re lucky that we are the lowest of all the quarries around, so we get water that percolates through the soil, and also re-use any of the secondclass water we generate for irrigation. We planted trees that are indigenous so they don’t require too much watering, and have a system which filters rainwater to be used for showers,” they continue. Speaking of the characteristics that make the house special, the owners consider its location within central Malta, juxtaposed with the surrounding countryside as a factor – an increasing rarity on this part of the island. As for the house itself, its unique construction is also worthy of note. “From the northfacing side, the façade looks quite

There was no water and no electricity, and lots of wells. Everything was totally raw, and that’s how we found it.

imposing because it has no windows, but from the south-facing side, it’s all open and full of windows. As for the garden, the levels make it what it is – if it was flat, it wouldn’t be as beautiful,” they say. Apart from a number of personal favourite elements including the light throughout and the sculptural staircase, the pair also consider the layout to be an attractive element. “It’s nice, given the fact that just the two of us live here, that the main house – the kitchen, living, dining and our bedroom – is in one contained area. In winter it makes it feel cosier. And when we have guests, they have their own area and their own privacy.” As for the décor, they describe it as a mashup of their personal styles, incorporating his background in antiques and her love of modern design, as well as treasured items from their past to make the place their own. Ò

Home § NOVEMBER 2017 bliss 83

A house like this can have quite a high CO2 footprint, so we tried to put in systems to generate and use as much of our own electricity and water as we can. Asked whether they sought inspiration from anywhere in particular, the pair explain that they mainly went with what the place lent itself to. “For the floors, for example, we used polished concrete for the new parts and wooden flooring for the main living areas, which feels warmer and more traditional,” they maintain. Finally, while hard pressed to name a

favourite part of the house, the unique garden space is certainly hard to beat. “In our previous house, we only had a small balcony and I killed every single plant I put in it,” the owner laughs, “yet here, gardening is something I really enjoy and spend time doing. I love the herb garden and use the fresh herbs constantly, and the flower garden

is another lovely spot that I enjoy spending time in. We also love the fact that we actually have produce from the garden – a couple of weeks ago I made carob syrup from the carob trees, and we picked olives to press for olive oil. The citrus gardens produce a lot of fruit and we also grow some of our own vegetables.” n

Home § NOVEMBER 2017 bliss 85


ÔTraditional craftmanship techniques and folk-mixing with unexpected prints and materials were all over the catwalk this season, and have made their way into our homes. Include woven, textured baskets, plants in wicker stands or Moroccan rugs to create a worldly eclectic look. For a striking investment, consider a piece of furniture made with fine, hand-cut inlaid bone – a true work of art!

Jewel tones

ÓRich emerald green, deep purple and midnight blue are luxurious tones which will give your home a rooted warmth to see you through the colder months. These nature-inspired hues can be teamed with lighter elements – terracotta floors, metallic accents and blush pinks all complement plush jewel tones.

Home trends


As the weather gets chillier, it’s time to prepare our homes for the season ahead. Rebecca Anastasi takes a look at the key home trends which will help you cosy up.

Scandinavian style

ÑHome décor inspired by Nordic countries has been all the rage for a few years now. Add some ‘hygge’ to your home by giving it a decadent dark Nordic look using deep, warm colours and a blend of natural materials. Less is more, so keep things minimalistic, with small indoor plants and objects from sustainable sources.

Precious stones

×Marble finishes were all the rage last year, but if marble isn’t your thing, fear not – there’s a new kid in town. This season sees agate and rose quartz taking centre stage. You don’t need to go overboard – simple touches and flourishes, such as these bookends, are enough to bring you right on trend.

ÑPair up the vibrant colours of the season with velvet, an elegant fabric which can be used on armchairs, sofas, puffs or even just added on as cushion covers or throws. Smooth metals and ceramics will give the room more warmth through the contrast.


Wedding Directory § NOVEMBER 2017 bliss 87



camilleriparis mode C

ÓFrom statement skirts to illusion necklines and beautiful backs, our 2018 bridal collection will make your look unforgettable. Make your special day complete with our atelier services – together with our expert team, you can design your bridesmaids’ dresses, flower girls’ dresses and more to create a look that is truly your own. Contact us on 2010 2030.

ÔColour Focus is an innovative and modern design and printing studio. One of our specialties is the design and production of personalised wedding print material including invitations, packaging, church books, bookmarks and much more, at affordable prices. Our mission is to fully personalise your wedding material to match your style of wedding, offering a vast range of paper materials and envelopes, as well as a number of finishing services to make your invites extra special. T: 2144 3553; M: 9926 7075; E:




ÓMake your wedding a sweet one with a sweet bar or candy cart that will not only make your guests feel like kids again, but will also brighten up the venue. Candylicious has gained a reputation for offering a lavish and unique sweet display for your wedding, birthday party and events. We can create a beautiful display in a particular theme or colour range, and you can take your pick from a rainbow of yummy sweets. Our displays are all designed with you in mind and to suit your budget – something different, unique and unexpected for your guests that will make their lasting impression a sweet one. Candylicious, 6, St Francis Street, San Gwann. T: 2702 9117.

Colour Focus



ÓFlowers have been our business for the past 20 years. At Floreal, which opened its doors on Valentine’s Day 1997, Bjorn Borg the florist and his team work to create stunning floral creations and more for your big day, your home, your event and other special moments. Floreal supplies superlative quality blooms of all types, from traditional to exotic, led by our motto: 'designing something unique and making it unforgettable'. Floreal, 75/77, Labour Avenue, Naxxar. T: 2747 0744, 2747 0745; 22/23 St Lucy Street, Valletta. T: 274 70747; M: 7747 0777, 7924 0005; E:

db Hotels + Resorts

Ô We invite you to meet us and appreciate our wide selection of venues with fantastic views for your special occasion. Our hotels have the perfect facilities to organise your reception indoors, by the pool or on the roof terrace enjoying panoramic views. For further information contact us on T: 2350 3750/1; E:;


Heritage Malta

ÓImagine the splendour of the Megalithic Temples, the elegance of the front courtyard of the Vilhena Palace, the esplanades and gardens of various sites or the surroundings of a historical fort to be your special scenario during your wedding reception. Some of these sites also provide breath-taking views. Go the extra mile to impress with your occasion or event with Heritage Malta’s unbeatable historical locations. These venues are not limited to wedding functions but are also available for other events. For more information about Heritage Malta’s venue rentals, contact us on E:;

88 bliss NOVEMBER 2017 § Wedding Directory



ÔEstablished for over 150 years, il-Qronfla is one of Malta’s leading florists and flower decorators, consistently putting into practice its motto: ‘with you through life’s precious moments’. The company imports freshly-cut flowers and plants from the best markets in Holland on a weekly basis. Il-Qronfla also imports artificial flowers and plants, interior decorations and other floral sundries, and channels its energy and creativity into all flower arrangements, which have earned the company its reputation for excellence. Il-Qronfla, 253, Main Street, Balzan; Frangisku Pisani Street, Mosta; Zabbar Road, Paola. T: 2144 2600; E:


Ó Mercieca Chairs & Tables Hire offers tables, chairs, bistro tables, chiavari chairs, chair covers, various coloured sashes, cushions, tablecloths and umbrellas for hire, for all your occasions and private parties, weddings, corporate events and more. They also offer deliveries to Malta and Gozo. Mercieca Chairs & Tables Hire, Casa Santa Rita, Santa Marta Street, Victoria (Gozo). T: 2155 9623; M: 9939 1964/7959 1793.



KG Events

ÔWedding and event planners and coordinators in Malta do not come any more meticulous in organisation, care and creativity than KG Events. In today’s stressful life, organising a wedding can be demanding and can lead to oversights during the actual day. The synchronisation of all sectors involved plays a crucial part in the success of memorable events and we ensure that it is reflected on your big day. Our commitment is evident in the successful weddings and events that we have lovingly organised. M: 7761 8905; E:;

Mercieca Chairs & Tables Hire

Mik’s Garage

ÓAt Mik's Garage you can hire an original and exclusive 1947 Rolls Royce – the only one in Malta – as well as the elegant Rolls Royce Cloud. Also available are the 1965 Morris 1000, ideal for the groom, pre-wedding and also as a wedding car, as well as the E Class Mercedes. We offer the very best service and ensure that your wedding day is a special one. With Mik’s Garage you will not be disappointed! Come and visit us at the MFCC Weddings Fair, stand 100, taking place until 12th November, and benefit from our special offers. Mik’s Garage, Triq il-Gizwiti, Naxxar. M: 9940 9332; E:


SmartCity Malta

ÓWith its magnificent lagoon, lush promenade and fairy-tale setting, Laguna Walk at the heart of SmartCity Malta, is undoubtedly the ideal venue for your wedding day. Ringed by a shaded, verdant promenade that leads out onto the Grand Steps, Laguna Walk’s breath-taking views of the beautiful and expansive lagoon and the azure Mediterranean Sea are nothing short of enchanting. The highlight of the lagoon is the island’s largest animated fountain, which powers choreographed jets of water into the clear blue sky to create a magical ambience befitting the day you say ‘I do’.

Palazzo Parisio

ÔAnne Hathaway wrote, “Weddings are important because they celebrate life and possibility.” Let Palazzo Parisio help you celebrate the start of your new lives together – we’ll do all we can to make the impossible possible! Our expertise and inimitable style will make a wedding day to remember. T: 2141 2461; E:;



ÔAt WEDDINGBELLS, brides can be sure to find the perfect dress, as bridal gowns have been our business for over 20 years. Situated in the heart of Valletta, WEDDINGBELLS stocks beautiful designer gowns in a variety of styles and sizes, as well as gorgeous bridesmaids’ dresses and a wide choice of accessories including veils, headpieces and jewellery. The WEDDINGBELLS team is renowned for its excellent and friendly service, and for helping make each bride’s wedding day quite simply perfect! WEDDINGBELLS, Coliseum Arcades, Zachary Street, Valletta. T: 2122 4234, E:

90 bliss NOVEMBER 2017 § Vintage Wedding

Walking into marriage Nearly five decades have passed since Godfrey and Cecilia Leone Ganado first started ‘going steady’, and their love and affection for each other remains clear. Marie-Claire Grima finds out the story of their romance.


f you were a teenager in the early 1960s, Ghar- id-Dud in Sliema was the most happening place to be. Nearby attractions included the Alhambra cinema, Bonello’s Kiosk in St Anne’s Square, and Golden Harvest, where one could get a drink or a coffee and a nice double-decker salami bezzun. Like a precursor to Paceville, it was always humming with young people, including Cecilia Gregory, 15, and Godfrey Leone Ganado, 18. Having grown up in neighbouring areas of Sliema, Cecilia and Godfrey were vaguely aware of each other, and when they ended up in the same group of friends, they started talking and hit it off immediately. “I used to listen out for the bell ringing for lessons at the girls’ school down the road, look out of the window a few minutes later and see her running to school – always late,” smiles Godfrey, a retired accountant who was a former partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Our dates used to consist of long walks and outings to tea rooms,” Cecilia recalls. Her father, she says, was very strict – “more British than the British” – so

You have to work at a marriage – when problems arise, you don’t just throw in the towel.

Godfrey would wait for her around the corner until she came out of the house. It was after four years of dating that she formally introduced her beau to her parents. The match was immediately approved – their fathers were both Customs officials and the parents had been invited to each other’s weddings; Godfrey’s parents had only missed the Gregory wedding because his mother was heavily pregnant with him. There wasn’t a grand declaration when Godfrey asked Cecilia to marry him. “It was more of a gradual proposal – we sort of walked into marriage,” Godfrey says with a smile. The two married after eight years together on 29th April 1971 at St Gregory’s Church in Sliema; she was 23 and he was 26. The bride wore an organza and lace gown with fabric from Camilleri’s in Valletta. She was accompanied by one bridesmaid (her cousin) wearing white, a flower girl (Godfrey’s only sister) and two pageboys, who all wore matching velvet ensembles. She received two bridal bouquets from two different florists – she had cancelled with a supplier and it was sent just the same. “Don’t worry,” Godfrey told her, “I’ll walk up with one of them myself.” The reception at the Phoenicia Hotel was attended by 650 people from both sides of Parliament, including the guest of honour, then-Prime Minister Giorgio Borg Olivier, since Cecilia’s father was the Clerk of the House of Representatives. “One side of the house gifted us a carpet – the other gave us a vacuum cleaner!” Cecilia giggles. It was a rainy day – in fact, the reception had to be moved indoors – but we all know what they say about rain on the day of a wedding. After 46 years, two children, and five grandchildren, it’s hard to dispute. The couple credits their strong Catholic faith with the success of their marriage, along with shared values and a determination to make their union work. “You have to work at a marriage – when problems arise, you don’t just throw in the towel,” Cecilia says. Godfrey adds, “Cecilia and I discuss everything, as we always have done, and even though we don’t always agree, we just agree to disagree… and then eventually agree.” n

Bliss Weddings & Homes November 2017  
Bliss Weddings & Homes November 2017