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weddings & homes

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issue no. 39

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SUMME R 2 0 1 9

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€7.50

Weddings inMalta

LATEST BRIDAL TRENDS | DRESSES & MORE | PARADISE IN XGĦAJRA


contents

ISSUE 39 | SUMMER 2019 Issue 39 | SUMMER 2019 Bliss Magazine is Malta’s leading weddings and homes magazine. Bliss is distributed exclusively to each and every couple attending the Cana Wedding Courses, and is available from a select list of bridal and wedding-related outlets in Malta. The publication is also found in all leading hairdressers, beauty salons, cafés, dental clinics, hospitals and medical clinics across the island, as part of our premier distribution network. Bliss is also sold at leading stationers in Malta. Editor Sarah Micallef

contents page 70 REAL WEDDING

FASHION & BEAUTY

Publisher

Content House Group, Mallia Buildings, 3, Level 2, Triq in-Negozju, Mriehel BKR3000 Tel: 2132 0713 info@contenthouse.com.mt www.contenthouse.com.mt Design Box Design – Antoinette Micallef ant@box-design.net Contributors Francesca Scerri Rizzo; Jillian Mallia, Jo Caruana; Lorraine Cilia; Marie-Claire Grima; Martina Said; Rebecca Anastasi; Vanessa Conneely

page 99 HONEYMOON

18 BRIDAL TRENDS 82 PRINCESS BRIDE

WEDDINGS & HONEYMOONS 20 FROM CHANCE ENCOUNTER TO TRUE LOVE 32 LOVERS OF THE LIGHT 44 LIFTING US HIGHER 58 A BEAUTIFUL START TO A LIFE-LONG JOURNEY 70 ELEGANT SIMPLICITY BESIDE A WATERFALL 96 WEDDING TRENDS 99 DESERT ROMANCE

INTERVIEW

Photography Alan Carville; Brian Grech; Hush Studios; Kris Micallef; Kitz Klikz; Picture Perfect; Shane P. Watts; Valentina Lupo

92 IT CAME IN THE MAIL 120 A LIFE-LONG ADVENTURE

Advertising Content House Ltd – Tel: 2132 0713

HOMES

publication sales manager Jessica Spiteri Catania

106 A VIBRANT VISION 117 TIME TO GET OUTSIDE

Operations & Client relationship manager Elena Dimech 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.

Wedding shoot page 82

wedding trends page 96

real home page 106

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editorial

Win Participate in our competition and you may win a Les Sorbets de Nina by Nina Ricci courtesy of Ta’ Xbiex Perfumery Ltd, worth €62.50. To enter the competition all you have to do is answer the following question:

WHICH ARTICLE OR FEATURE DID YOU MOST ENJOY IN THIS ISSUE, AND WHY? Send your answers, as well as your telephone number, to media@contenthouse.com.mt or in writing to Bliss Magazine, Content House Group, Mallia Buildings, 3, Level 2, Triq in-Negozju, Mriehel, BKR3000. Competition closes 31st August 2019. One entry per person. Terms and conditions apply. Last issue Renato Zerafa won a 50ml bottle of Bella, by Nina Ricci, courtesy of Ta’ Xbiex Perfumery Ltd.

Editor’s letter

T

he sun is shining, and love is in the air! Wedding season is in full swing on the Maltese Islands, and it’s the perfect time for our lovely summer issue of Bliss Weddings & Homes. We’ve been blown away by the positive feedback following our fresh redesign with the last issue, and I’m pleased to bring you even more wonderful photos and inspiration from real local couples this time around. From a selection of real weddings and beautiful love stories to the latest wedding, bridal and home trends, there’s lots to look forward to! Our bridal shoot is also a stunner, featuring the lovely Venla shot by Valentina Lupo, within the stunning surroundings of the Natural History Museum within Vilhena Palace in Mdina. And for the interior lovers out there, our Real Home feature, showcasing the incredible transformation of a townhouse in Xgħajra, is certainly one to watch! Enjoy the issue.

Sarah our cover DRESS: A modern twist to the classic bridal ball gown, this dress is beautifully embellished with intricate beadwork and lace. Perfect for any fashion forward bride. Exclusively available at WEDDINGBELLS. FLOWERS: Arrangement using only the best quality flowers including garden roses, astilbe, spray roses, hydrangea, Queen Anne's lace, gypsophila and other fillers and foliage to create the perfect contrast, Alistair Floral Design. Location: National Museum of Natural History Vilhena Palace, Mdina Photographer: Valentina Lupo Photo Shoot Coordinator: Sarah Micallef Hair & Make-up: Francesca & Lorraine, Alfie's Hair & Beauty Model: Venla, Models M

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BRIDAL TRENDS

BRIDAL TRENDS

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words by

Jillian Mallia Barcelona Bridal Week

catwalk shots courtesy of

Intricate Details

Statement Sleeves

High Necklines

Intricate details seem to be an everlasting trend in the wedding dress department. Whether incorporating details at the hem, on the sleeves, bodice, or skirt, or going all-out over the full gown, these elaborate details can really accentuate your wedding day outfit.

Royal-wedding inspired and simple, traditional sleeves are perfect for coverage, but if you’re after something a little out-of-the-box, you’re in luck. This year, bridal sleeves are anything but ordinary. Be it puff, detachable sleeves or detailed embroidery, the options are endless.

High necklines are back in, ever since both Meghan Markle and Princess Eugenie wore this style for their after-party dresses. It’s a comfortable and simple look, yet elegant and stylish to boot.

DESIGNER

DESIGNER

DESIGNER

Demetrios

Beba's

Aire Barcelona

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BRIDAL TRENDS

Capes

Minimalism

Feathered Fantasy

Capes aren’t ground-breaking, but still remain a popular choice for a bride’s big day. The new renditions of this trend are innovative and fresh, be it sheer with embroidery, a cocktail cape covered in feathers, or a full-length option – they remain the chicest way to cover up.

The minimalist style is another popular choice inspired by the two British royal weddings held last year. It’s all about the unadorned princess who doesn’t need all that fluff, and minimalist wedding ensembles do just that.

With boho on its way out, feathers are rising in the world of weddings. It’s all about a flair for the dramatic and grand with this trend. Keeping hair and make-up ethereal and minimal is ideal to avoid this look going costume.

DESIGNER

DESIGNER

DESIGNER

Maggie Sottero

Maggie Sottero

Demetrios

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Danica

and

Matthew ceremony location

St Philip Parish Church, Zebbug

reception venue Villa Arrigo, Naxxar

From chance encounter to true love

After just seven months of planning, Danica and Matthew Decesare pulled off the wedding of their dreams – an elegant occasion full of fun, dancing and even a few tears. They relive the memories of their big day with Sarah Micallef. P h ot o s b y B rian G rech

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anica, 29, and Matthew Decesare, 38, first met by pure coincidence, on Danica’s 25th birthday. “Matt was watching a football match when my friends and I walked into the same bar, making lots of noise,” Danica recalls. One of her friends knew Matt and went over to say hi, and when he mentioned that they were out celebrating Danica’s birthday, Matt asked to be introduced to the birthday girl. “We started dating a couple of weeks later, and the rest is history,” she smiles. For Danica, it became clear that Matt was the one a few short months into the relationship. “We got along very easily and both love to travel, so we’re always planning our next trip together even before we go on the one next planned,” she laughs. As for Matthew, things became serious when Danica moved in with him. “Living with the person before taking the relationship to the next level was extremely important to me. That’s when I realised, I can marry this girl,” he says. The proposal soon followed, in the couple’s favourite city: Florence. “We visited Florence together after dating for just three months and have visited every year since then. We had gone to Rome with Matt’s family for mid-term break, and before we left, Matt suggested that him and I catch a train to Florence for lunch at our favourite restaurant,” Danica recalls.

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“I’m not a romantic person, so organising something extravagant was out of the question,” says Matthew, who was intent on proposing in their special city, but wanted to wait for the right moment. “Whilst at lunch, I joked about how small the ring she had on was, to which Danica replied that she was waiting for someone to upgrade it! I then asked her to get me something from her bag, whilst I put the ring on the table and said, ‘how about we upgrade it now?’”

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“Thankfully, the restaurant was empty, which was great because it made it all the more special and intimate. I also loved that Matt went to my father’s office the day before to get his blessing. I found that very special,” Danica adds. This was in November 2017, and knowing that they didn’t want a long engagement, the wedding preparations began soon after. The date was set for seven months later, 28th June 2018, with a ceremony at St Philip Parish Church in


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DETAILS Eucalyptus leaves While the couple didn’t have a theme for their wedding, they were keen on a simple yet elegant style, which included an abundance of eucalyptus leaves. “I wanted to have a lot of eucalyptus leaves, so we had these on the cake, the bouquets, on the bridesmaids’ headbands, buttoners, and we even had loose eucalyptus leaves instead of confetti when we walked out of the church,” says Danica.

“I was worried I’d ugly cry while walking down the aisle, but thankfully I put on a big grin and smiled for most of it.” Zebbug, a church that is close to Danica’s dad’s heart. “I had to grant him his wish of walking me down the aisle in that church,” she says. And while the pair agreed on most elements of their big day, there was one thing they just couldn’t agree on: the guest list. “If it were up to Matt, we would have had a much bigger wedding! In the end, the guest list was bigger than I was initially hoping, but we both compromised,” she explains. “Danica was more for an intimate wedding, whilst I wanted to have a bigger one. The reason was simply because I have a big family and a significant number of colleagues and friends, which I knew would be a problem to cut numbers down from. Ultimately, we reached a compromise, and whilst I had to leave a number of people out, I’m sure that people understand that these things aren’t easy!” Matthew adds. Other decisions were far easier, like the entertainment and reception venue, which the couple agreed on instantly. “We knew it absolutely had to be Villa Arrigo,” they say. The pair also chose the food menu, courtesy of Osborne Caterers, together, and Matthew took care of the drinks, while other elements like the flowers and invitations were left in Danica’s hands.

Who wore the pants? Danica’s bridesmaids’ outfits were somewhat different to the norm. Rather than dresses, the bride says, “my bridesmaids wore grey jumpsuits which I designed myself with their help,” achieving a fashion forward style. The bride later joined them, changing out of her Cymbeline gown into white palazzo pants and a Point d’Esprit top inspired by French bridal designer Rime Arodaky for the after-party.

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“When we read our vows and Fr John blessed our rings, it was such a special moment, and one that I vividly remember from the whole day.”

As for other details they were dead set on, Danica and Matthew agree that the flow of the wedding was important. “We wanted the reception to be a bit different from the ones we  had been to, so we started off at Villa Arrigo’s Secret Garden with an acoustic duo, prosecco bar and cold canapés for two hours,” says Danica. “Violinist Simon Vella and guitarist Mark Rapa were exceptional to say the least,” adds Matthew, who was the main driver behind the evening’s entertainment.

“We then moved up to the gazebo for the speeches and cake, which was beautifully decorated with a wreathe of greenery, white flowers and a fairy light backdrop,” Danica continues, adding that they wanted to cut the cake quite early on so they could dance the night away with their guests. “After the cake was cut, we had two buffet tables open; a chateaubriand carvery and a red prawn flambé, and then danced away! We also had a Hendricks gin bar, and a whiskey and chocolate table later on.”

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“If I could, I would do it all again and not change one thing.” “We had a brilliant performance by Relikc, and finally closed off with a DJ fusion with Ziggy at the decks, Simon Vella and Andrew on the violin and saxophone respectively,” Matthew chimes in. And with just seven months to plan it all out, the pair feel that the time constraint actually made the process less stressful. “When we started planning I said to myself that I needed to be open to other options than what I would initially want, but luckily, we managed to find everything that we set out for,” says Danica, while Matthew adds, “there wasn’t much room for contemplating. Due to the time constraints, we had to move fast. We discussed, agreed and finalised immediately.” And when the big day finally arrived, the pair were calm as cucumbers. “I was surprisingly very calm and spent most of the morning with my parents making sure we had the last-minute things sorted. Then, my bridesmaids came over and the fun began,” smiles Danica, who enjoyed getting pampered with her crew before getting her make-up done by the talented Jennifer Dimech. Admitting that he’s quite a relaxed person, Matthew says that it felt like just another day when he first woke up, heading over to his parents’ house after getting a few last

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titbits out of the way. “It was only when my father said we should start getting ready that what was about to happen actually hit me. I must admit that I got anxious, but I think that’s normal,” he laughs. Heading over to the church in their Percius cars, it was time for the most special part of the day: the ceremony. Walking down the aisle to meet her husband-to-be, Danica admits feeling emotional. “I was worried I’d ugly cry while walking down the aisle, but thankfully I put on a big grin and smiled for most of it until I looked at my dad, who got emotional, so then I shed a few tears too,” she says. The bride wore a stunning Cymbeline gown which she looked gorgeous in, after initially struggling to find the perfect dress. “At first, I found dress shopping a bit overwhelming, and remember telling my maid of honour that I really wish I could just wear jeans and a t-shirt,” she laughs. That is until she found ‘the one’ at Camilleriparismode. “I tried on another few dresses which just didn’t cut it, until finally, when I tried the one I eventually chose, I instantly knew. I could see my mother’s eyes shine as soon as they opened the curtain for her to see – she loved it just as much as I did.” The bride teamed the dress with an elegant headpiece sourced by her sister-in-law Krista, and shoes she bought in London.


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The mass was celebrated by three priests, Fr Stefan Attard, who gave a sweet homily; Fr John Scicluna, who had guided the couple through the Cana course and is also a distant relative of Matthew, who blessed the rings; as well as Fr Anton D’Amato, an old friend of Danica, who assisted. “It was the most special part of the whole day,” says Danica. “When we read our vows and Fr John blessed our rings, it was such a special moment, and one that I vividly remember from the whole day.”

It was then onto the reception, for which the couple was joined by around 500 guests, including family from the UK and Australia, and a number of Matthew’s colleagues from South Africa and the Middle East. Following the cake cutting, the newlyweds opened the dancefloor to the upbeat Ho Hey by The Lumineers. “We both weren’t too keen on a first dance and at a point considered doing away with it,” recalls Danica, before they agreed on the song, which they felt was “less soppy than the usual first dances.”

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“I was actually quite surprised by Matt’s moves!”

For Matt in particular, the idea of a first dance was a nightmare. “It’s not a secret that my dancing skills are poor to say the least, so I’ll be honest, I did dread the first dance, but somehow we got through it smoothly and had a good time,” he says. In fact, the pair made their bridesmaids and groomsmen join in mid-way through, “as we didn’t want to have the attention on our terrible dancing,” they laugh, although Danica admits, “I was actually quite surprised by Matt’s moves!” Looking back however, the newlyweds agree that it was the ceremony which was their favourite part of the day. “With all the planning and preparations, you seem to forget

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that ultimately, it all boils down to that moment, and to me, it was most definitely the best part,” says Danica, to which Matthew adds, “I enjoyed the whole day, but I have to agree that the exchanging of the vows was the most special part of it all. The party was great too though!” They also agree that they wouldn’t have changed a thing about their special day. “If I could, I would do it all again and not change one thing,” smiles Danica, saying that to her, it was absolutely perfect, and a memory she will cherish forever. Matthew nods in agreement, “I think the wedding went just the way we planned it, and we really had the time of our lives!”


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Marie Claire

and

Matthias ceremony venue

Ta’ Mlit Church, Mosta

reception venue

Villa Bologna, Attard

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Lovers of the light

In just nine months, Marie Claire and Matthias Mula planned a magical wedding, anchored by their shared faith and love of song. They tell Marie-Claire Grima how they made it all happen. P h ot o s b y K ris M icallef

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erona, the hometown of those famous star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, was where Marie Claire and Matthias Mula first met in July 2015. They had travelled there – separately – to watch a Mumford and Sons concert, and ended up getting acquainted through mutual friends. “Back then, I was in a relationship with someone else, so there was nothing romantic between us, but we got on well,” says Marie Claire, a teacher. The newly-established group of friends kept meeting after the trip to Verona, and in October, a few months after Marie Claire’s previous relationship had come to an end, she and Matthias started seeing each other as a couple. “Soon enough, we realised that we were in it for the long-haul,” says Matthias, a portfolio investment manager. “You compare it to previous relationships that you’ve been in, and you realise that something’s different. When you know, you know.”

“On the big day you just have to let it all unfold and enjoy yourself. We gave it our all and it just fell into place.” bliss

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“In the end, I didn’t have anything to worry about – it was absolutely beautiful.”

The surprise proposal happened on 20th June 2018. Matthias chartered a private sailing yacht trip for two that left from the Kalkara marina and headed north towards Xemxija. As the boat approached the Xemxija quay with the setting sun behind them, Marie Claire saw their two families holding up banners which read, “Marie Claire, will you marry me?” Naturally, the answer was yes! The two quickly started planning their wedding. “We were aiming for March of the following year, so we didn’t really have much time!” Matthias says. Luckily, the couple’s preferred location, Villa Bologna, was free on the 30th. “It was the only choice for me. After attending a wedding there, that has always been my dream venue!” Marie Claire says. The couple worked with their lighting designer and florist to make sure that the villa, gardens and the marquee were decked out and illuminated exactly as they wanted it.

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“When I saw her arrive at the church, my heart felt like it was going to pound right out of my chest.” On the day, the bride chose a simple, ethereal gown by Lusan Mandongus from Camilleriparismode, with flattering lace sleeves and a v-cut neckline, as well as a second dress which was custom-made at the atelier. “I went for a natural look, both in terms of hair and make-up,” Marie Claire says.

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“I don’t wear heavy make-up and I always wear my hair down, and even though my hairdresser tried to convince me to do something different with it, I wanted to keep it as simple as possible,” she says. Her bridesmaids, meanwhile, also donned beautiful dresses from Camilleriparismode.


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DETAILS Herbs in a pot For their souvenirs, the couple selected three different kinds of herbs which were grown for them by the Bezzina brothers. Once they were in full flower, the herbs were re-potted into glazed custom ceramic bowls made by Peter the Potter in Rabat. “I’ve always wanted to give guests something that they can actually use,” says Marie Claire.

“When I saw her arrive at the church, my heart felt like it was going to pound right out of my chest,” says Matthias, who looked sharp alongside his groomsmen, wearing suits by The Groom Collection. The church they chose to get married in was Ta’ Mlit in Mosta. “We are members of the Neocatechumenal Way, and we celebrate mass a bit differently – for example, the altar is placed in the middle of the church, and the congregation gathers around it. Ta’ Mlit was able to support that layout,” explains Marie Claire. “The homily was about self-giving, and to me the Eucharist, which is central to the Neocatechumenal celebration, is the perfect example of what a marriage should be,” Matthias says. Following the mass, they headed off to the reception in cars provided by Daltons Garage, to greet their 450 guests. Music was what brought the couple together in the first place, and having good entertainment was one of their key priorities for the reception. The evening started off with a session by instrumental duo Mike Rapa and Shaun Vella, followed by the Tailors and Nadine Axisa, who were complemented with a brass section.

The sound of love The entertainment at the wedding started off with an hour of instrumental music by Mike Rapa and Shaun Vella, who Matthias had seen perform years before. The couple also decided to add a brass section to the main band, The Tailors, to further enhance the jazzy atmosphere that they were aiming for.

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“The Tailors are friends of mine, and they know our tastes well. Our only request was to take Xemx off the playlist,” laughs Matthias. They shared their first dance to You Are The Best Thing by Ray Lamontagne. Not Mumford,

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then? “We tried, but we couldn’t figure out how to dance to any of their songs!” The afterparty, DJ-ed by Andrew Barthet, kept the crowd going for an hour after the couple cut the cake.


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“Our only request was to take Xemx off the playlist!”

“I’m a perfectionist, but on the big day you just have to let it all unfold and enjoy yourself. We gave it our all and it just fell into place,” Matthias says. “I was checking about five different weather sources ahead of the day, but in the end, I didn’t have anything to worry about – it was absolutely beautiful,” Marie Claire adds. After the wedding, the couple took a short trip to Vienna and Bratislava, and hope to enjoy a longer honeymoon break in South Africa once the scholastic year ends and Marie Claire can take off for a lengthier period. Have they any wedding wisdom to share with couples planning their own festivities? “Well, there’s the cliché to remember to enjoy yourself, which is true. But I also got a good piece of advice from my cousin: don’t walk around with a drink in your hand. Just take a sip and put it down somewhere – that way, there’s no chance of spilling!” Matthias chuckles.

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Noella

and

Matthew ceremony location

Ta’ Giezu Church, Valletta

reception venue

Villa Arrigo, Naxxar

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Lifting us higher

A long romance led to a dream wedding for top photographer Noella Agius and well-known waterpolo player Matthew Zammit. As they tell Jo Caruana, theirs was a day full of raucous laughter, heartfelt tears and non-stop dancing. P h ot o s b y Ryan and R achel at P ict u re P erfect

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oella Agius and Matthew Zammit go back a very long way. They first met around 15 years ago through their shared passion for waterpolo – he was a player for the St Julian’s team and she was a staunch Sliema supporter. “Back then I despised him!” Noella grins. A few years later, Matthew returned from his waterpolo journey in Italy and the duo bumped into each other in Paceville, and they got together. Sadly, this preluded a very chaotic period in their lives, when Noella’s father was tragically killed in an accident. “We had only been together a year at the time,” she recalls. “And instead of being able to focus on the future, I fell into a very dark place and wasn’t able to appreciate the person who was by my side. It was a very difficult time.”

The couple was on-again off-again for seven years after that. They both had other relationships, and Noella gave birth to her daughter, Giorgia. “One day, out of the blue, Giorgia and I were in Sliema and she ran off. I had no idea where she was and was panicking, until I found her standing by Matthew, hugging him. That got us talking again, and we decided to give our relationship another go. From then on, we knew it was true love, and we’ve never looked back.” It’s been a busy time for the family since then. Matthew and Noella got serious very quickly, and he immediately started to help her raise Giorgia, along with Giorgia’s dad. “Matthew would do anything for that little girl,” Noella smiles. “It’s one of the things I love most about him.”

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A proposal wasn’t far off either. “Admittedly it wasn’t the most romantic proposal ever!” Noella quips. “I was lying in bed and Matthew came over, handed me a ring, and smiling, said ‘that’s the next step for us, right?’, I said yes, of course! It wasn’t exactly a fairytale ending, but it was very us.”

With wedding bells now ringing, the couple got down to planning their fun-filled big day – 27th April 2019 - with the help of wedding planner Katia at KG Events. They chose to tie the knot at Ta’ Giezu Church in Valletta for the simple reason that Noella absolutely loves the capital and its views.

“Matthew wept for so long that, eventually, our priest – Father Claude – suggested it might be time to stop crying!”

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“The laughter and the tears were unstoppable.”

“I wanted to have a bar open right outside the church, and am lucky that my cousin owns Bridge Bar close by, so the vibe as we walked outside was wonderful.” As an experienced photographer, Noella knows a thing or two about weddings, and she knew she didn’t want to be stressed on the day. “I wanted to love every second, so I wasn’t fussy at all. I just went with the flow and didn’t complicate things; it’s when you panic that things start

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to go wrong. With that in mind, I chose to work with top professionals and left everything in their hands so it would all run smoothly – and it did. I had my mind at rest throughout and it was all top notch. I am so glad we did it that way.” After the church ceremony and street party, guests jumped aboard an old Maltese bus to make their way to Villa Arrigo in Naxxar – another aspect that Noella says went beautifully.


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DETAILS A festive welcome As the couple stepped out of the church following the ceremony, they were met by a local banda (brass band), which was waiting for them with champagne on tap. “I think that’s when everyone realised it was going to be a fun wedding,” the bride smiles.

“The venue is so convenient and charming!” she enthuses. “Working with Veronica and the team there was so seamless from the get-go that I didn’t bother going anywhere else – especially when I tasted the menu by Osborne Caterers, which was delicious! We danced the night away with our fabulous band, the Brass House Unit. It was such fun and absolutely perfect.” A blue rose “Overall, I think one of the most special moments was seeing Giorgia hold the blue rose we had taken to church in memory of my dad, as he died while holding a blue rose just like that one,” Noella says, adding that all the bouquet arrangements designed for her by Alistair were gorgeous. “Giorgia hadn’t been told to hold it, but says that she was thinking about nannu while it was in her hand – even though she never met him. It made me sure that he was there with us, and lifted my spirits even higher. His presence made everything come together even more.”

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“I wanted to love every second, so I wasn’t fussy at all. I just went with the flow and didn’t complicate things.” Looking back, Noella says that one of the most important elements for her was having her children present – both her daughter Giorgia, and the couple’s son Jamie, who is eight months old. “The excitement on their faces was an absolute picture,” she beams. “Jamie kept giggling – he had no clue why his parents were going so crazy that day. The laughter and the tears were unstoppable.” Given the emotional start to their relationship all those years ago, it’s no surprise that emotions were running high on the day, too. “Walking down the aisle, I could see people weeping as though they were at a funeral! Then I looked at

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Matthew and he was sobbing too. He wept for so long that, eventually, our priest – Father Claude – suggested it might be time to stop crying! I guess we were all so happy and equally overwhelmed.” Another highlight came when – after cutting their beautiful cake – Noella was ushered upstairs to change. “My bridesmaids and the wedding planner were rushing me away and I kept telling them to slow down – little did I know that Ira Losco and Ivan Grech were waiting back downstairs to surprise me! They sang the beautiful duet Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, which means a lot to Matthew and I.


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“My bridesmaids and the wedding planner were rushing me and I kept telling them to slow down – little did I know that Ira Losco and Ivan Grech were waiting downstairs to surprise me!”

“Then, Ivan also performed Miss You – a song he doesn’t usually sing at weddings but which always reminds me of my father. I so wanted dad to be a part of our day, so that meant the world. I had mentioned it to Matthew but had no idea he would surprise me in that way. It was another incredible moment and, of course, everyone started sobbing again!” Looking back now, Noella says she wouldn’t change a thing about her and Matthew’s special day. From the traditional band playing them into their new married life, to her stunning dress (a Chiara Ferragni design with shorts underneath that perfectly matched her tomboy personality, bought from Wedding Bells), it was all exactly as they’d hoped. The suits for the gentlemen in the party, meanwhile, were from The Groom Collection, and they also looked fantastic. “I love being married and look forward to everything that life will hopefully bring us. As for my future? Well, this relationship has literally taken me from A to Z, and I couldn’t be happier!”

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Ingrid

and

Beppe ceremony venue

Metropolitan Cathedral of St Paul, Mdina

reception venue

Villa Arrigo, Naxxar

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A beautiful start to a life-long journey Martina Said chats to newlyweds Ingrid and Beppe Antignolo, to find out all about their stupendous March wedding, complete with a meaningful ceremony celebrated by none other than Malta’s archbishop, and a local banda to rejoice their start to married life. P h ot o s b y K it z K lik z

W

hen Ingrid and Beppe Antignolo bumped into each other at a local establishment for the first time, they both knew that they had found someone special in one another. “Although neither of us are the soppy type, I think we both agree it was like at first sight, because I think love is quite a strong word,” says Beppe, 34, who manages an insurance branch. “After meeting Ingrid I remember telling a close friend that I’ll either end up marrying her or no one,” he adds. “I had my fair share of relationships and the single life, so when I found someone who supported me in all the things I do, who made me happy and whom I could enjoy my life with, I knew she was the one.” Ingrid, 31, who works at a bank, says that just like Beppe, she was never the kind to settle for the sake of it, and in time, he proved to be the right person for her, making the surprise proposal a happy and exciting new chapter for both of them when the time came. For the occasion, Beppe headed to Gozo a day before to decorate their apartment for the proposal and, together with his friends, invented an excuse to visit Gozo with Ingrid. “I must admit I was in a bad mood that day, having to go up to Gozo for a ridiculous reason, which to be fair made perfect sense at the time,” says Ingrid. “But in the end, all went as Beppe planned – I was surprised and obviously happy too.” The couple soon began preparations for their wedding day, and set the date for 23rd March 2019, with nuptial mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Paul in Mdina, followed by a reception at Villa Arrigo in Naxxar. Ingrid handled most of the preparations, except for the men’s suits and vintage bus from Supreme Travel for the groomsmen, due to Beppe’s demanding work hours and football commitments. “I wasn’t really stressed throughout the preparations. I’m a very calm person and work well under pressure. On the contrary, Beppe was the one stressing most times!” says Ingrid.

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The couple’s main focus throughout the wedding preparations, they explain, was the mass – it was the most important part of the day for both of them, which is why they chose the Mdina Cathedral. “As for the date, I didn’t want a summer wedding, mostly because of the heat, but we also knew that any day before June would be a risk weather-wise, and our fear was that people would get put off attending the mass on a rainy day because of the walk

through Mdina to get there. Thankfully though, the weather was perfect!” says Beppe. “For the reception, we opted for Villa Arrigo as both of us attended weddings and events there, and the service, environment and food by Osborne Caterers were always of the highest level.” Beppe also knew he wanted a large team of groomsmen, which also meant he could trust each one of them with a list of duties, which, he says, they followed to perfection.

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“When I found someone who supported me in all the things I do, who made me happy and whom I could enjoy my life with, I knew she was the one.” “This helped a lot with the organisation of the wedding and was a good alternative to a wedding planner,” he says. “Looking back, I would have only engaged a wedding planner to take care of most of the organisation before the wedding, rather than on the wedding day itself.” Although the couple did have a common understanding of the most important parts of their wedding day, Ingrid says they were often at odds on the details. “Beppe and I are total opposites – character, taste and all, so in everything we do we need to find a compromise, and what we ultimately chose needed to be something that suited us both.” Beppe adds that both gave in if either of them was adamant about something, “so that helped to avoid unnecessary arguments which would have led to more stress!” The couple also wanted their wedding to be a long and enjoyable celebration for everyone involved, so they opted for an early mass, at 3.30pm, to spread the festivities out throughout the afternoon. “Having a good vibe at our wedding was also something we really wanted, and for this reason, we shifted our wedding schedule around a little and cut the cake at 9pm, had our first dance right after, followed by upbeat music, and then an after-party so that people had no excuse to move away from the dancefloor,” says Beppe. “The opening of a shooter bar just before the after party also helped to maintain that vibe!”

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DETAILS The cake For their wedding cake, Ingrid chose a simple yet elegant design that fit the style of the rest of their wedding. And although he didn’t taste it, Beppe says he just loved how it looked.

The music “The mass was made that much more special by the hymns sung by a soprano, accompanied by the powerful organ of the Cathedral,” says Beppe.

When the day finally rolled around, Beppe says he was relatively calm, but the more nervous from the two of them. “My nerves eased when my 14 groomsmen started arriving at my parents’ house, which is when our party really started.” Heading over to the Cathedral in her bridal car from John’s Garage, Ingrid adds, “I was calm until I set foot inside the Cathedral, and held onto my father tightly as I walked up the aisle, knowing all eyes were on me. After that, I was fine.”

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“I’m a very calm person and work well under pressure. On the contrary, Beppe was the one stressing most times!” The wedding mass was celebrated by the Archbishop of Malta, Mgr Charles J. Scicluna, who the couple were honoured to have as their celebrant. “We met His Grace at his Mdina residence a few weeks before the wedding day, and both of us were struck by how humble, intelligent and friendly he is. Having such a strong leader at the helm of your wedding is a good foundation for a marriage,” says Beppe. Beppe and Ingrid say the mass was personal and beautiful, and at times innocently interrupted by the flower girls and page boy who felt the need to copy the maid of honour and bridesmaid, and arrange the bride’s dress. “During the mass, we also noticed a few tourists enter the cathedral to get a glimpse of what they thought was a Maltese royal wedding, which is what some of my very bright groomsmen were telling tourists outside the church!” Adding to the celebratory mood on the cathedral’s parvis was a local banda, which recreated the scene of a Maltese feast, kicking up the fun and festive mood a few notches upon the couple’s exit from the church. It was also a

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complete surprise to Ingrid, and a part of the wedding that both of them absolutely loved. As for the bride’s dress, Ingrid designed it herself with the assistance of talented dressmaker Simona Mamo. “The dress had to be ‘me’, and I had to be comfortable in it all night as it was going to be a very long day and night, so I had a dress made with a detachable train that I could remove later on in the evening,” she explains. “I wanted something simple yet regal – and that is exactly what I had made. The dress turned out exactly as I wanted it to, without needing to alter anything along the way.” Indeed, the bride looked beautiful on her big day, with hair by D Strand Hairstylist’s Annalise Azzopardi and make-up by Jennifer Dimech completing the look. The couple celebrated their big day with 700 guests, including friends and family who flew in specifically for the occasion. For souvenirs, traditional perlini were handed out to guests, which accompanied a generous donation the couple made to Inspire Foundation.


real wedding

“For my wedding dress, I wanted something simple yet regal – and that is exactly what I had made.”

“The donation was not a souvenir as such but something extra we wanted to do,” says Ingrid. “I don’t believe in making a donation instead of giving a souvenir – it should be made voluntarily, whole-heartedly and not just instead of something else.” The couple shared their first dance to a slightly different version of the classic Xemx, which never fails to get people singing along to it. “It’s an old song that never gets old, and

it will remind us of our first dance each time we hear it.” Looking back, Ingrid and Beppe say their wedding was perfect from start to finish, however, Ingrid does have one regret. “I wish I had taken the microphone for two minutes to thank everyone who made it, but especially to thank my parents, for the selfless love and constant support they have always shown us, including on our wedding day, which we wouldn’t have been able to celebrate without them.”

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Elegant simplicity beside a waterfall

Four years ago, Michelle and Richard Vella met in unexpected circumstances, but hit it off right away. Later, the couple succeeded in creating a remarkable occasion full of personal touches. Here, they share their memories with Rebecca Anastasi. P h otos b y S h ane P Watts

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Michelle

and

Richard ceremony venue

Attard Parish Church

reception venue

Waterfall Gardens, Limestone Heritage Park, Siggiewi

M

ichelle, 32, did not have to go far to meet the man who would eventually become her husband. In fact, she met him right in her home. Richard, 29, was tasked with some carpentry work at Michelle’s house when the two hit it off and got chatting about mutual friends and acquaintances. Three years later, Richard popped the question. “We had never really spoken seriously about marriage, and whenever I mentioned it, Richard seemed to just shrug it off,” Michelle says. “So when he asked me to marry him, I was completely taken by surprise, since I had assumed it would happen sometime in the far future!” However, unbeknownst to Michelle, her partner had been thinking about it for some time, and had even bought the ring! This low-key attitude extended to the proposal itself. “Richard is aware that I don’t like a lot of attention so he knew that the proposal would have to take place somewhere where no one would watch,” Michelle continues. And true to form, Richard chose to create an intimate moment in a location which meant a lot to both of them: Michelle’s home, that same place where they had met three years previously. “He proposed on a weekday. He had prepared a box with numbered photos of us, with descriptions of our journey as a couple,” Michelle says. “I always thought going down on one knee was way too cheesy for me, and to my surprise, he remembered that wasn’t my style!” The couple later celebrated, officially, at one of their favourite restaurants to mark the occasion.

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Following the proposal, Michelle started to browse through as many social media platforms as she could, saving wedding gown images which inspired her. While she had no fixed idea as to what she was after, she knew she wanted to be comfortable. To that end, the bride-to-be decided to go for a detachable skirt. “The idea was to have a skirt on for the church and the first dance, then take it off

for the party and reception. And that was actually the best decision I made!” she says. She found just what she was looking for at Eva Mariee, and Michelle only had to try it on one time to know it would be just right. “I am not someone who would say I just found the one dress, since there were actually two dresses I liked.”

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“I always thought going down on one knee was way too cheesy for me, and to my surprise, he remembered that wasn’t my style!”

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“However, as soon as I tried the gown I eventually chose, and I looked in the mirror, I knew it was for me. And I thought how dad would be proud if he were still with us,” Michelle remembers. Elegant simplicity was also key to the style and form of the couple’s choices, which they made together. “In fact, we both took care of the prep work needed. We also attended all meetings together. We knew what we wanted but were open to any ideas we came across, though keeping it simple was always foremost in our minds,” Michelle explains. This hands-on approach extended to every aspect, with Richard actually building a doughnut stand and items of décor such as “a mirror which he painted in rose gold”. He even assembled the couple’s hand-made souvenirs, with Michelle on hand to help. The overall look of their wedding integrated traditional wedding tropes with more modern touches – a “modern, yet classic, design” Michelle asserts – in line with the couple’s style. “We didn’t have a particular theme in mind, but we wanted it to be simple, yet fun. I also wanted touches of rose gold and to incorporate geometric patterns,” Michelle says. In fact, these metallic tones and motifs were included in the pair’s wedding invitations and the venue décor at Limestone Heritage.


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DETAILS Hand-made souvenirs “We bought empty glass bottles and filled them with olive oil which we had bought from Sicily. We then bought fabric, ribbon and stickers, and did everything ourselves from scratch. It was very time-consuming, but I wouldn’t have it any other way as we knew exactly what we wanted: a souvenir to be used and not thrown away as soon as guests went home. And I think we succeeded,” Michelle smiles.

On the day, the couple, after being picked up by vehicles courtesy of Meli car rentals, said their ‘I dos’ in front of 550 family and friends – some of whom flew over all the way from Australia, Canada and the UK – before heading to the venue to really kick off the celebrations. There, the food chosen also merged modern and classical elements. The

Personal touches Richard and Michelle included some heart-felt and personal touches to the set-up at the venue. “We decided to include a memory table, in honour of those loved ones who had passed away, and who couldn’t physically be with us, as well as a backdrop resembling a living area and containing some great props which reminded us of our lives together. These included items such as a newspaper which we actually created to include photos of us as a couple,” Michelle describes.

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“The love we were showered with throughout the day was indescribable and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.” couple opted for doughnuts instead of the traditional petits fours, and a pizza station was set up instead of a traditional pasta one. “We served pastizzi, too, at the after-party, to give it a Maltese feel since we thought our foreign guests would be delighted by that,” Michelle laughs. The entertainment also offered something out of the norm. “We engaged a caricature painter because we thought it would be innovative and cool,” Michelle continues, before going on to describe other unique touches the couple decided to add. “We also gave our guests the opportunity to have polaroids taken at our after-party, and handed out props such as Hawaiian neck bands, sunglasses and flower bands which lit up,” she recalls. But which was the couple’s favourite part of the day? “Definitely the ceremony and the exchanging of the vows, because of all the emotions and the promise for the future that represents.

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“We served pastizzi, too, at the after-party, to give it a Maltese feel since we thought our foreign guests would be delighted by that.” Nothing can top that!” Michelle smiles. Indeed, the new spouses wouldn’t change anything of their big day, she continues. “In our eyes, everything was perfect and the important thing for us is that we were surrounded by family and the people we love. The love we were showered with throughout the day was indescribable, and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way,” Michelle smiles.

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fashion

Dress: If you love sparkles,

this is your dress! Beautiful Genevieve comes with a deep plunge and has off-shoulder sleeves which make it even more romantic. The skirt has a patterned design with sparkles. Dress exclusively available at EVA MARIEE.

Bouquet: Bouquet

using only the best quality flowers including garden roses, astilbe, spray roses, hydrangea, Queen Anne's lace, gypsophila and other fillers and foliage to create the perfect contrast, Alistair Floral Design.

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fashion

Princess bride Location: National Museum of Natural History - Vilhena Palace, Mdina Photographer: Valentina Lupo Photo Shoot Coordinator: Sarah Micallef Hair & make-up: Francesca & Lorraine, Alfie's Hair & Beauty Models: Venla - Models M., Giulia and Kaya

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FASHION

Dress

: A flowing tulle gown with an illusion bodice and back, adorned with beaded floral appliques, Camilleriparismode.

Flowers

: Arrangement using only the best quality flowers including garden roses, astilbe, spray roses, hydrangea, Queen Anne's lace, gypsophila and other fillers and foliage to create the perfect contrast, Alistair Floral Design.

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FASHION

Dress: The Electra gown combines a classic silhouette with contemporary design, allowing every bride to be modern and chic, yet timelessly beautiful. Exclusively available at ArtBridal Boutique.

Bouquet: Bouquet using only the best quality flowers including garden roses, astilbe, spray roses, hydrangea, Queen Anne's lace, gypsophila and other fillers and foliage to create the perfect contrast, Alistair Floral Design.

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FASHION

Dress: Adorned in both

Scintilli and bold lace, this stunning A-line gown is light and easy to manage. Ideal for any summer wedding, this dress is exclusively available at WEDDINGBELLS.

Bouquet: Bouquet

using only the best quality flowers including garden roses, astilbe, spray roses, hydrangea, Queen Anne's lace, gypsophila and other fillers and foliage to create the perfect contrast, Alistair Floral Design.

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FASHION

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FASHION

Dress: Adorned in both Scintilli and bold lace, this stunning A-line gown is light and easy to manage. Ideal for any summer wedding, this dress is exclusively available at WEDDINGBELLS.

Bouquet: Bouquet using only the best quality flowers including garden roses, astilbe, spray roses, hydrangea, Queen Anne's lace, gypsophila and other fillers and foliage to create the perfect contrast, Alistair Floral Design.

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FASHION

Dress: This dress

comes with a deep plunge, spaghetti straps and low back, and what about the gorgeous train? Faith brings out any bride’s feminine features. Exclusively available at EVA MARIEE.

Flowers

: Hanging arrangement using only the best quality flowers including garden roses, astilbe, spray roses, hydrangea, Queen Anne's lace, gypsophila and other fillers and foliage to create the perfect contrast, Alistair Floral Design.

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FASHION

Giulia wears

: Crafted in opulent satin, Rhea lace maxi bridesmaid dress features beautiful lace detailing on its bodice along with a stylish keyhole. It fastens with a concealed back zip and button. The hem can be altered easily for the perfect length. Available at Monsoon, Bisazza and TignĂŠ Streets, Sliema.

Kaya wears: Madrid dress from STORM

by Monsoon for girls aged 9-15 years. Its floaty top layer is covered in glitter dots for party-perfect sparkle, and it is finished with a sequin neckline. Adjustable straps and a stretchy back guarantee a comfortable fit, and it is machine washable for ease. Available at Monsoon Children, Sliema, Valletta, Pavi and The Duke, Gozo.

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FASHION

Dress: Created in guipure

lace with loops and circles, Bernadette lace hanky hem midi dress strikes an elegant pose. Perfect for weddings and garden parties, it features a hanky hemline and V-neck cut, along with a waist-defining band. Available at Monsoon, Bisazza and TignĂŠ Streets, Sliema.

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MY DRESS

It came in the mail Most brides would baulk at the idea of getting their dress online – but not Deborah Flores. She loved the thought of designing her gown from scratch, and spent months tweaking every detail ahead of her wedding to Paralympian Antonio. She tells Jo Caruana all about it. P h otos b y M att h ew f rom H u s h St u dios

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MY DRESS

D

eborah Flores admits she wasn’t the type of person to dream about her wedding dress. In fact, she didn’t really start thinking about it until plans for her and Antonio’s big day were well underway. Still, she had quite a good idea of what she wanted. “Lace,” she smiles. “I knew I wanted a lace dress as I have always loved the fabric. I thought it would be lovely to have it as the main component, so that was one of my starting points.” And that is where the search began, although Deborah remained quite indecisive about the type of silhouette she wanted, and the overall style of her gown. “Originally I thought I might go for a more princess-style look with a big fairytale skirt,” she says. “But three things made me change my mind last minute.” “First of all, as I have quite a petite frame, I didn’t want to wear a dress that

might appear overwhelming. I wanted to look like I was wearing the dress and not the other way around. Secondly, I was thinking back to how wonderful my sister – who has a similar physique – looked in her dress two years ago, and so thought a simpler style might work better. Finally, I wanted to be comfortable. While I wanted the dress to be beautiful, I also wanted to be able to sit, walk and dance comfortably in it throughout the wedding, and not feel too weighed down.” With all of this in mind, some might have assumed that Deborah’s next step would have been to try on a few different dresses to see what sort suited best. But she didn’t. Instead, she took the unusual step of taking to the internet and hunting down a dress online. “I know it was risky,” she says. “But I wasn’t disappointed. I was actually very drawn to the idea of being able to have the dress designed exactly as I wanted, at a very good price.”

“In the end, it was absolutely perfect and I was over the moon.”

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MY DRESS

Deborah started her search unsure of where she would end up, and trawled through a few sites before realising none would give her the level of customisation she was looking for. Then, finally, she found one that would, and it even came with the guidance of her own online designer. “It was quite a long process,” the bride continues. “I started by sharing a few ideas of what I had seen online and explained every detail to the designer. I passed on pictures of what I wanted for the front, back, bodice and skirt, and also chose a lace design that perfectly matched what I had in mind.” She also went through the intricate phases of choosing the fabrics, colours, length of the train, sleeve cuffs, skirt trim and more. “It went on and on!” she smiles. It was at that point that the design company started work on the actual tailoring of her dress, followed by the first set of photos one-and-a-half months later. That gave Deborah the chance to make some further alterations before the gown was shipped over by courier. The result? “It was absolutely perfect and I was over the moon,” she grins. In fact, Deborah says she was overwhelmed when she finally saw her dress in the flesh. It was exactly what she’d hoped for: a light ivory shade with a mermaid silhouette, an illusion neckline, long sleeves and a sheer back. The floral sequin lace was, of course, the highlight she had dreamt about, and she also loved the button closure detail and long train. “I wasn’t worried because I had seen the dress develop

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“It was lovely to be wearing something that was made just for me, but equally to know I hadn’t spent the earth.”


MY DRESS

A word from

the groom “I left everything in Debbie’s hands when it came to her dress, because I wanted to stick to the tradition that a groom should not see his bride in her gown before the wedding day. I liked the thought of being surprised! “So I was completely unaware of the style she chose and didn’t have any preconceptions about what would suit her best, although I knew she would look wonderful. “When I did see her, I loved it – it was the ‘classic Debbie’ look. Watching her walk down the aisle felt surreal and the whole day was a true whirlwind – all very positive though! I was thrilled that she managed to have the dress of her dreams without it being overly expensive. I know she loved the whole design process, and it was definitely worth it to see the finished result.”

every step of the way, and had even tested the service on the bridesmaids’ dresses, which I had ordered in advance,” she says. “But it was still exciting!” “I actually tried it on for the first time on my own because I couldn’t wait until someone else got home! Needless to say, I couldn’t button myself up properly and could barely keep it on, but I fell in love with it immediately. I realised that, aside from some tiny sizing issues, it was exactly what I’d been hoping for. I was overwhelmed by the incredible craftsmanship and unbelievable quality.” Of course, Deborah understands that buying a wedding dress online wouldn’t suit everyone, but she does recommend looking into it if you’d like to save a bit of money on one bought in store. “It takes time,” she says, “and you have to be willing to go into a lot of detail about what you’d like, and to go through online reviews to understand the design company that might suit you best. When you choose one, ask as many questions as you can before you make a decision, as it will be vital to know how well you can communicate with the people making your dress.” In fact, while Deborah says the process was cheaper than buying a dress in store, she knows it could well have gone wrong and ended up being a waste of money. “But if you do go down the online route, choose a size slightly bigger than your own so that you can have it taken in if you need to. I was pleased I had tested the site in advance with a dress for one of my bridesmaids, and was thrilled when that worked out well. The service was fantastic across the board.”

Looking back, Deborah says she was so glad she chose an online channel because it allowed her to save a little and splurge on other things for her and Antonio’s big day. “Walking down the aisle in my dress felt absolutely wonderful,” she says. “I wouldn’t have changed a thing. It was lovely to be wearing something that was made just for me, but equally to know I hadn’t spent the earth. I plan to keep it forever and to enjoy having it around. I certainly feel like I have a special bond with it!”

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WEDDING TRENDS

wedding TRENDS

From a return to wedding basics to pushing the boat out with next-level trends, Martina Said highlights the many interesting, often polar opposite developments in the world of weddings.

Mono-flower bouquets

www.allurebridals.com

Nothing spells ‘modern wedding’ better than minimalism, and this trend is a great example of it. A bouquet composed of one flower arranged in bulk has a powerful impact in its simplicity, and can be applied to all other aspects of your flower arrangements – from headpieces to flower arches and everything in between.

Ruffled wedding dresses www.shutterfly.com

Colourful suits

Blushed Design

ÞA trend that hasn’t lost steam is personalisation, and in 2019, couples are choosing to channel this through their wedding invitations, specifically by way of a custom illustration that reflects the couple or their big day – such as a cute family portrait or a watercolour of the wedding venue. www.grazeaway.com

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ASOS

Custom illustrations

For the daring grooms looking for a wedding day suit that isn’t black, grey, blue or beige, you’ll love this trend. Colour in a groom’s attire is no longer reserved for socks, so go ahead and buck tradition with a colourful choice that reflects your sartorial style and personality.

If we’re honest, the ruffled wedding gown never really fell out of favour, but this year, you can expect to see more gorgeous gowns featuring ruffles to varying degrees – both in the form of details to a simple dress, or as a central – and dramatic – part of the dress’s design.

www.thespruceeats.com

The year of gin

Gin has been trending for some time now, but it’s being hailed as the booze of the year for 2019. Not only is it the quintessential spirit for that good old G&T, but it’s also bringing back some classic cocktails such as the Gin Martini, Negroni, French 75, and the Tom Collins.


WEDDING TRENDS

Dramatic florals

Photo by Jac and Thom via www.brideandblossom

.com

Remember that jaw-dropping entrance to St George’s Chapel for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding last year? It had a major influence on floral décor for weddings, inspiring the ‘more is more’ adage with respect to flower arrangements at weddings, and we can’t say we mind.

There’s no room for 'who would wear sleeves in summer?' here – because these are no ordinary sleeves. Brides will be pushing boundaries with wedding dresses in 2019, and statement sleeves are one major way to do it through billowing fabric, feathers, embroidery detailing and extraordinary use of fabric.

Bringing the inside out

ÚEveryone talks about bringing the outside in for their home, office or wedding, but the opposite, bringing the inside out, is also picking up pace. Making an outdoor wedding venue feel homely through fabulous furniture, fancy tables and the kind of beautiful pieces you’d typically find in a living or dining room is a trend we think is pretty ingenious.

Natural beauty

WeddingWire

Classic weddings

ÙTrends are great, but like many good things, they come and go. Classics, on the other hand, hold their value forever, which is why simple and traditional weddings are making a comeback. Think silver candlesticks, crystal glasses, ballroom venues and elegant table settings. Photo by Maria Lamb via Martha

Stewart Weddings

Galia Lahav

Epic sleeves

www.weddingtales.gr

Barely-there make-up for the bride, laid-back hairstyles in the form of messy up-dos and natural waves, and non-invasive treatments to have every bride looking her best, such as micro-blading to perfect those brows, are all pointing towards one thing: natural beauty is having a moment, and we’re here for it.

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honeymoon

Desert romance Jordan is becoming an increasingly popular destination among young Maltese couples, and when Analise and James Baldacchino booked their honeymoon trip there with Royal Travel, they were excited for what they would find. Here, the newlyweds share their experiences of desert living, swimming in the Dead Sea, and eating traditional Bedouin bread with Marie-Claire Grima.

W

hen Analise and James Baldacchino were considering honeymoon options, their ideal destination was somewhere that was slightly off the beaten track, but which wouldn’t break the bank, especially after all the wedding expenses. “We considered quite a few places, including Armenia and Georgia, but we ultimately decided on Jordan. I had seen posts from friends who had been to Jordan the previous summer, and it looked like an unusual and interesting place to visit,” Analise says. “And then, a post on Facebook popped up telling us that Royal Travel was organising a trip to Jordan between 16th and 23rd April, and it stoked our interest.

“Petra is massive and contains hundreds of elaborate rock-cut tombs, a treasury, Roman-style theatres, temples, sacrificial altars and colonnaded streets.” bliss

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honeymoon

Once we saw the itinerary that Larissa from Royal Travel provided us with, we both agreed that our honeymoon destination should be Jordan! We had been so busy planning our wedding and building our house that we didn’t have any time to research Jordan and the must-visit places! So visiting Jordan with a group like Royal Travel was a great choice for us.” The couple caught a direct flight to the Middle Eastern country a week and a half after their wedding. “We travelled with a group of 12 people. We were very lucky that we were all roughly the same age; we all clicked immediately and got on really well together!” James says. “When you’re in good company, the experience is automatically a lot better.” The couple had a packed itinerary, but both agree that one of their favourite sites was Petra, the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage site. “Petra is massive and contains hundreds of elaborate rock-cut tombs, a treasury, Romanstyle theatres, temples, sacrificial altars and colonnaded streets,” Analise says. “We also visited the ancient Roman city of Jerash, which is characterised by magnificent city walls, soaring hilltop temples, spacious public squares and plazas, baths and fountains.” Another location which made a big impression was Wadi Rum, the desert wilderness which the locals refer to as the Valley of the Moon. “We stayed in the Mazayen Luxury Camp in Wadi Rum,” they say, and the couple also went on Jeep drives, camel rides, and the cherry on top of the cake – a hot air balloon ride during the early hours of the morning, where they witnessed the fantastic scenery that the desert region has to offer.

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“Being in the Dead Sea is very relaxing, because you don’t need to make any effort to stay afloat.”

“We also spent some time in a candle-lit lodge at the Dana Biosphere Reserve,” James recalls. “There was no electricity in the lodge except in the bathrooms. All rooms, including public areas, were lit with candles in the evening. It was cool and shady inside, with courtyards and cosy sitting areas. Bedrooms also had mirrored niches to reflect the candlelight in the evening. As for the food, they only served fruit and vegetables; since the lodge is solarpowered, they don’t run appliances such as fridges and

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freezers, which use up a lot of energy. It was definitely a unique experience!” Other exciting items on the itinerary included visiting the baptismal site of Jesus Christ at Bethany beyond the Jordan, also a UNESCO World Heritage site; experiencing the Ma’in thermal mineral hot springs and waterfalls; the coastal city of Aqaba, which is popular for its beaches and coral reefs, and which provides views of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel; and swimming in the Dead Sea.


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“That was quite unforgettable. The water is so salty that it feels like gelatin, and its taste is not pleasant at all!” Analise says. “But being in the Dead Sea is very relaxing, because you don’t need to make any effort to stay afloat.” Trying out the local cuisine is one of the best parts of any holiday, and this was no different in Jordan. “When you’re in Jordan you can enjoy creamy plates of hummus served with fresh flat bread. We also got to see the Bedouin breadmaking process,” James says. “The bread dough is put on the hot ground and covered with hot amber and ashes. Then, it is turned over and covered again with ashes on each side. Once done, the bread is cleaned with a knife or a piece of sharp stone. The warm bread is then dipped in olive oil and served with Bedouin tea.” However, Analise says her

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favourite dishes were hareeseh, a semolina cake made with coconut, yoghurt, sugar and almonds, as well as manakish. “Manakish is sometimes described as ‘Arabic pizza’. Its main ingredients are dough, olive oil and a mixture of herbs.” As a souvenir to commemorate their trip, Analise, who collects Christmas baubles from around the world, brought back two Jordanian baubles, as well as a small, hand-painted platter where they can place their house keys in their new home. “I’d definitely recommend Jordan as a honeymoon destination to couples who want to visit somewhere different from the norm!” she says. And what about the friends that they made? “We still talk every day on the group chat, and we’re even considering going on holiday together again!”


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real home

A vibrant vision Interior designer Vanessa Bonnici shares this lovingly restored double-fronted townhouse in Xaghjra with her husband Joseph and their two boys, James, seven, and Matthew, two. She speaks to Sarah Micallef about her vision for the house, and what went into making it a reality. ph ot o s b y A lan C arville

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hen our agent told us that there was a house for sale in Xaghjra, I immediately asked where it was, because I know the area well,” says Vanessa Bonnici, looking back on when the family purchased this townhouse. “When we stopped at the end of the road, I said, ‘don’t tell me...’ and the agent became concerned, thinking I didn’t like the area.” But, as it turns out, it wasn’t the case at all – quite the opposite. “I recognised it immediately, as my grandma used to live next door!” she smiles, “and as soon as we walked in, it clicked for me. I had never been inside, not even as a child, but when I walked through the door, I just knew. It was love at first sight.”

That was five years ago, and the house had been closed for eight years prior. “We’re the fourth generation to live in the house. The first couple built the house and left it to their daughter, who I remember living here. When she passed away, she left the house to one of her sons, and he tried to restore it, but it was too big a job, so he decided to sell it,” Vanessa says. As you walk in through the intrata, you’ll find the sitting room on the right, which, Vanessa says, “we use every day, all the time.” On the left of the intrata, double doors lead to the garage, which was originally a bar for sailors – “the house was a bordello!” – and a guest bathroom.

“When I walked through the door, I just knew. It was love at first sight.” bliss 107

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real home

Walking into the beautifully bright kitchen through the dining area beyond the living room, Vanessa unveils a “surprise.” Opening up a cabinet which reveals itself as a concealed door, she steps into a sizeable laundry room, hidden away behind the kitchen cabinets. “It’s great for storage and is also a good hiding place for the boys,” she smiles.

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The interior area on the ground floor wraps around a central courtyard, which incorporates a storage room, pond and garden area. Meanwhile, upstairs features the main bedroom, boys’ bedroom, main bathroom, library area and a third bedroom, which Vanessa and the boys use as an art room. “I say it’s my art room, but the boys love to scribble in here too,” she laughs.


real home

“Originally, the apertures were made of wood, but had been changed to aluminium by one of the previous owners in the 1950s or ‘60s.”

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real home

“I can spend hours outside, relaxing in the garden and tending to the plants.”

Being an interior designer, Vanessa worked on the designs of the house herself, changing things around a few times before deciding on the final direction. Keeping it in the family, her father, who restores houses, was also very involved in the project. “He doesn’t shy away from a challenge, which is great,” she laughs, hinting that she didn’t always give him an easy ride! With a distinct vision of what she wanted to achieve, the project took two years to complete, and took the house from neglected and dated to a vibrant family home. This included replacing the aluminium balcony and aluminium apertures – one of the first items on Vanessa’s list. “They were gold aluminium,” she shudders. “Originally, the apertures were all made of wood, but they had been

changed to aluminium by one of the previous owners in the 1950s or ‘60s.” Apart from the apertures and opening up several arches on the ground floor, the floor tiles were another major change. Downstairs, the original tiles had been replaced by the previous owners, so Vanessa opted for reproduction tiles in the traditional Maltese style. Upstairs, all the tiles are original, and feature fantastic designs and colours which differ in each area. An interesting feature is the choice of vibrant wallpaper juxtaposed with the tiles, which Vanessa admits, has to be approached with caution. “Some people are afraid to go for colour on the walls when they have colourful Maltese tiles, and you do have to be careful because it can be too much!”

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“Some people are afraid to go for colour on the walls when they have colourful Maltese tiles, and you do have to be careful because it can be too much!”

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Speaking of the family home’s specific characteristics, Vanessa believes it stands out because it’s light, spacious and well finished. Apart from that, she maintains, “I see a lot of houses through my job, and I feel that this is quite particular as a space. It’s got a relaxed vibe, which I love – I’m very tidy and like a clean house, but it’s also important to feel comfortable, especially when you have young kids.” Asked about the décor, the designer considers it to be a bit of a mix, and prefers not to stick to any one specific design style. “It’s definitely a mix – we have antiques,” she says, pointing to a 370-year-old armoire by way of example, “and we’ve got modern items like the metal units in the library, but everything goes together.” Stressing her belief that it’s not necessary for everything to match in the traditional sense, Vanessa explains, “the beauty of a house is that it is a collection of things… it shouldn’t look like a showroom.”


real home

“I did a lot of research and gathered different ideas, but I always took them and went my own way.”

Owing to the fact that she has such a distinct vision and point of view, she also admits to sometimes being impossible to please. “I did a lot of research and gathered different ideas, but I always took them and went my own way,” Vanessa smiles. “I’m my own worst client. I know what I want, and don’t give up.” And looking around the remarkable house now, it’s a good thing she didn’t! Finally, I ask, what’s her favourite part of the house? “I love the living room and the outdoor area. I feel that the living room is ‘complete’ in that there isn’t anything I feel needs to be added. As for outside, I’m a little obsessed with plants and really enjoy gardening. I can spend hours outside, relaxing in the garden and tending to the plants.” Apart from that, the neighbourhood is a big part of what makes this house a home, she reveals. “We love Xgħajra. In the summer, we open the doors and the children play outside. The house is on a pedestrian street so everyone’s outside – there’s a real sense of community, which has sadly disappeared from most areas, and it’s great that we have that here.”

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home decor

Time to get

outside Vanessa Conneely takes a look at what outdoor living trends will brighten up your balcony, garden, courtyard or terrace.

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Joanna Walker Photography

03. Club Med

Living in Malta means we can naturally tap into one of the hottest trends right now, inspired by the beautiful blue of the Mediterranean. This is all about being white and light with wood. Add rope and light linen fabrics for that nautical look, and maybe some deep blue pots or tiles to bring it all together.

Trendecors

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01. Green, green, green

Many believe that with so much technology at our fingertips nowadays, having a calm and tranquil space in your home is essential. So why not adorn your outdoor space with plants, flowers and herbs, and really get back to nature? Not only is breathing, seeing and smelling foliage good for your mental health, it also helps bees and butterflies thrive in the little eco-system you have created right outside your door!

02. Mixing it up

As well as the age-old advice of bringing the outside in, there’s a new trend of bringing the inside out. This is all about creating a flow between your living and outdoor space. Try matching some pots you have inside with your outdoor space, or keep the furniture in the same shade.

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Elle Decor

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04. Low maintenance

What’s the point of summer if you can’t relax? Try and simplify things by talking to gardening experts about what will work best for your outdoor area. Avoid trees or shrubs that drop leaves everywhere and spend a little more money on buying hardy furniture that won’t need replacing after a couple of years.

Martha Stewart

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E Interiors Design

05. Feed yourself

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Trendecors

While growing fruit and vegetables isn’t a new trend, it’s becoming more and more popular. When planning your outdoor space, think about incorporating a herb wall or growing tomatoes, oranges and lemons in large pots since they are native to the Maltese climate. Not only will you save money, but you can also guarantee that your food is pesticide free. Yum!


vintage wedding

A lifelong adventure

After more than six decades together, Olympia and John Theuma are still madly in love. Vanessa Conneely speaks to the couple about their wedding day, the importance of family and Tinder.

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he second you walk into the home of Olympia and John Theuma you can see what matters to them most – family. The couple have been married for 55 years and every corner of their Tarxien maisonette displays photos of their smiling children and grandchildren. “We’ve lived in this house for 33 years,” 79-year-old Olympia tells me. “It’s been a good home with lots of memories.” John, 82, knows the village well, having grown up in Tarxien, while Olympia comes from nearby Zejtun. Olympia remembers John as a boy, although he was not as aware of her back then. “I knew him when he was nine, when he went to private lessons,” says Olympia, “but he doesn’t remember me. He remembers my sister, but he didn’t notice me!” she laughs. It was a decade later, when the pair were at a Christmas dance in 1958, that things changed. “It was love at first sight,” says John. “I was at the dance but knew I had to leave to get the nine o’clock bus home. So I said to her, ‘do you want to accompany me to the bus station?’ and she said ‘yes ok’. On our way there I asked her if she wanted to meet me the following day, and she accepted. From then on, we never left each other’s side. She’s my one and only - I never courted another girl. It was a grace from the Lord that I met her, and I am very happy.”

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The pair were together for four and a half years before getting married, but tragedy struck and forced them to change their plans for the wedding day itself. “We were supposed to celebrate the wedding in May, but my father was very sick and passed away,” explains Olympia. “So, we changed the date to 29th June and kept the wedding small. It was just a quiet family wedding of 50 or 60, as we were all still mourning the loss.” “The night before the wedding I didn’t sleep. I was looking forward to it, but I was also nervous. We had a lot of preparation to do beforehand as the wedding reception was at home, while the Mass was at a private chapel in Zejtun. My dress was bought ready-made from a shop in Republic Street in Valletta which is no longer there. I had one bridesmaid; John’s sister. It was a busy morning because we had to be in church by 10 o’clock. In those days we didn’t have a beautician or hairdresser come to our house, we were our own beauticians. My sisters helped me to dress up and my brother prepared the house for the reception,” says Olympia. “John’s brother was a priest, so he celebrated mass. Afterwards we drove home and ate pastizzi, timpana, sausages, sandwiches, vol au vents and of course, wedding cake. In the evening we drank champagne before John and I went upstairs and got changed to go on our honeymoon.


vintage wedding

I remember I wore a hat to the airport,” she continues with a smile. John and Olympia’s life as a married couple started with an adventure to Rome and Naples, which they remember like it was yesterday. “Our flight to Italy was special because it happened to be around the time of the Coronation of Pope Paul V1,” says John. “Malta’s Prime Minister at the time, Gorg Borg Olivier, was on the same flight as us because he was going to the Vatican, and we had to wait for him. Of course, he was sitting in business class and we were in economy class, but it was still exciting. When we got to Naples we hopped onto a train we thought was heading to Rome, but when I asked another passenger, he said the train was travelling to Bari and not Rome, so we had to get off and find the right train, or we would have missed the Coronation!” he laughs.

Photo by Alan Carville

“He was always a jovial person, that’s why I liked him” Olympia

And it’s that sense of humour which seems to have gotten the couple through six decades together. “He was always a jovial person, that’s why I liked him,” says Olympia. “Even my parents used to say ‘Johnny has a happy character’. He is never gloomy, and he is romantic. He showers me with gifts on special occasions and remembers all of the children’s and grandchildren’s birthdays.” Another way the couple made life a little more special was to travel when they could afford it. John worked for the government as an Assistant Principal Officer in various departments over the years, and would travel with his wife and two daughters when he could. “We travelled to Scandinavia, Australia, Greece and Amsterdam. Another year we rented a caravan and drove the children around Scotland and Ireland, which was so much fun,” remembers Olympia. Their kitchen is full of souvenirs from their travels, with magnets on the fridge and wooden plates on the wall. While the pair can’t venture too far from home these days, they still make an effort to have mini-adventures every day. “I don’t drive anymore and gave my car to my granddaughter Jillian, but we still take the bus to Paola almost every day, and go to Marsaxlokk or Birzebbuga when we can,” says John.

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vintage wedding

Bringing up their daughters Caroline and Christine was another adventure the couple embarked on together. “I got pregnant quite soon after we got married so I gave up my job as an Administrator to mind our children,” says Olympia. “Our daughters never gave us any trouble, and always studied and worked hard. When they were teenagers, I didn’t always like them going out with their friends as I felt it was dangerous and there were drugs around. I was probably a bit over-protective. It was difficult for me to accept the changes in society, but it had to be done.” Speaking of changes in society, how does Olympia feel about the way young people meet using apps like Tinder today? “I don’t like it as you want to know the person. On a phone you can’t see a person’s face, you don’t communicate the same way, you don’t know how they feel or see their actions. This personal contact is important, as well as dialogue between a couple.” And that communication and honesty have helped Olympia and John navigate through tougher periods over the years. “Of course, we’ve had our ups and downs, and difficult moments. Bringing up children and not always agreeing is hard, but we always found a compromise. I think letting go and discussing the matter is important. Even now that we’re older, there are still moments we don’t agree, but it’s easier to close one eye and move on together. It’s about compromise.” So what would they tell a couple who are just starting out on their adventure together? “Don’t spend a lot of money on the wedding,” smiles Olympia. “It’s nice to have a reception and that you enjoy it, but it costs a lot of money and the most important part is the church ceremony and saying your vows, as this is what binds you together.”

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Photo by Alan Carville

“She’s my one and only, I never courted another girl. It was a grace from the Lord that I met her, and I am very happy.” John

“Even now that we’re older, there are still moments we don’t agree, but it’s easier to close one eye and move on together. It’s about compromise.” Olympia


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Bliss Weddings & Homes - Summer 2019  

Bliss Weddings & Homes - Summer 2019  

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