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WEDDINGS & HOMES

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ISSUE NO. 43

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WINTER 2020/2021

BL SS

€7.50

Bridal beauty

LATEST WEDDING TRENDS | REAL COUPLES’ STORIES | A GEM IN THE SOUTH OF MALTA


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CONTENTS

ISSUE 43 | WINTER 2020/2021

ISSUE 43 | WINTER 2020/2021 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 PUBLISHER

Content House Group, Mallia Buildings, 3, Level 2, Triq in-Negozju, Zone 3, Central Business District Birkirkara CBD3010 Tel: 2132 0713 info@contenthouse.com.mt www.contenthouse.com.mt

PAGE 20 REAL WEDDING

PAGE 84 HONEYMOON

FASHION & BEAUTY 18 BRIDAL TRENDS 58 GHOSTS OF THE PAST

WEDDINGS & HONEYMOONS 20 LOVE ON TOP

DESIGN James Debono – Design Studio at Content House Ltd

28 JUST THE WAY YOU ARE 38 A BOHEMIAN FAIRY TALE 48 TWO HEARTS AS ONE 82 WEDDING TRENDS 84 THE INDIA EXPERIENCE

CONTRIBUTORS Martina Said; Rebecca Anastasi; Jo Caruana PHOTOGRAPHY Alan Carville; Kris Micallef; Jack Hardy; Malta Wedding Films; Mark Cassar; Tonio Lombardi; Tümer Gençtürk; Shane P Watts

INTERVIEW

ADVERTISING Content House Ltd – Tel: 2132 0713

72 MANY DRESSES, ACTUALLY 105 IN THE NAME OF LOVE

DEPUTY HEAD OF SALES Jessica Spiteri Catania 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.

We care about the environment Because we care about the environment, Bliss is printed on FSC-certified paper, a certification which provides assurance that the paper is from sustainable and well-managed sources, thereby minimising its environmental impacts.

HOMES 90 AN ODE TO MEDITERRANEAN LIVING 101 EMBRACING THE FEELING OF HOME

BRIDAL SHOOT PAGE 58

WEDDING TRENDS PAGE 82

REAL HOME PAGE 90

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EDITORIAL

OUR COVER

DRESS Designed by internationally renowned brand Millanova, this dress has a magical, fairy princess feel to it. The skirt has a long train, but is very light in weight, allowing any bride to manoeuvre easily on her wedding day. The details on the bodice are sparkly but ever so delicate. Exclusively available at WEDDINGBELLS. Jewellery available at ZSAZSA. LOCATION Social Care Standards Authority PHOTOGRAPHER Kris Micallef PHOTO SHOOT COORDINATOR Sarah Micallef HAIR & MAKEUP Francesca & Lorraine, Alfie's Hair & Beauty MODEL Marysia, Island Talent Agency

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f there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s how important it is to adapt, and the beauty there is in coming together towards a shared goal. For many couples getting married in 2020, it’s been a rollercoaster ride, with changing guidelines wreaking havoc on their plans, but while some have chosen to move their nuptials, others went with the flow, opting for pared down celebrations with an emphasis on what it’s all really about: love. In this issue of Bliss Weddings & Homes, we look into the stories of a handful of newlyweds who made their weddings a reality, against all odds. Discover how a change of plans translated into four dresses for one bride and share in the celebration as vintage wedding couple – veteran actors Mario and Nathalie Micallef – toast to their 50th anniversary this year. Our bridal shoot features a unique location which you’ve likely not seen before, with model Marysia looking otherworldly in a selection of bridal styles, shot by talented photographer Kris Micallef. And if you’re looking for some home inspiration, check out the trends that will be making waves in 2021, and have a nosey at a stunning Cospicua home designed by a London-based couple. Enjoy the issue.

WEDDING SHOOT – PAGE 58

Sarah BLISS

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words by

SARAH MICALLEF BARCELONA BRIDAL WEEK

catwalk shots courtesy of

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Statement Sleeves

1920s Glamour

Strong Silhouettes

Big, puffy, statement sleeves have been everywhere in the fashion world in recent months, and they’ve even filtered into bridal collections. Keep the look classic rather than trendy by opting for a more timeless style rather than an option that’s too over-the-top.

More about the vibe of the glittering jazz age than a literal vintage revival, this trend has designers lending some 1920s glamour to modern bridal styles, and we’re loving the results!

Chic brides who favour a pared back look without the fuss of intricate textures, beading and embroidery are in luck this year, with strong silhouettes doing the talking when detailing can’t. It’s all about less is more.

DESIGNER

DESIGNER

DESIGNER

PRONOVIAS

FLORA

JESUS PEIRO

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Bows

Geometric Lace

Thigh Splits

Bows are no stranger to bridal fashion, and this season will see an influx of new styles making use of this fashion staple. From structured, oversized options to more minimal and pared back designs, bows are decidedly in.

The variety in shapes and styles when it comes to lace designs is practically endless, but rather than a floral, romantic look, it’s all about geometric and symmetrical lace motifs in 2021 bridal collections – giving the old favourite an interesting update.

Fancy adding a slightly risqué element to your bridal look? The thigh split is back, making its way from the red carpet to the bridal runway, and it’s perfect for the bride who wants some sex appeal on her big day.

DESIGNER

DESIGNER

DESIGNER

LEONIE

MARYLISE & REMBO STYLING

FLORA

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PHILIPPA JULIAN BIDNIJA CHURCH PRIVATE FAMILY HOME, BIDNIJA

Love on top Despite an ever-changing schedule and what seemed like an endless obstacle course until the big day, Philippa and Julian Naudi were finally pronounced husband and wife in an intimate wedding last June. While enjoying wedded bliss, they tell Martina Said all about it. P H OTO S B Y M A LTA W E D D I N G F I L M S

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or newlyweds Philippa and Julian Naudi, a carefully planned May wedding turned into a swift June celebration with daily changes until the big day – but what transpired in the end was a beautiful and intimate wedding that the Naudis wouldn’t change for the world. Philippa, who forms one half of artistic duo The New Victorians with sister Bettina, explains how the pandemic literally upended all their wedding plans. “We didn’t deal too well at first, but then decided we’d rather not keep living in limbo and just go for it!” Before we get to the wedding, let’s back track a few years to the couple’s first encounter and a romantic proposal in Budapest. “We met as teenagers as part of a youth group called Y4J. It wasn’t love at first sight at all. I was very naive and had friend-zoned him for a couple of years,” says Philippa. “Then, one summer, after we travelled to the UK together for a festival with a group of friends, it all started snowballing. We clicked, he had a growth spurt, and before you know it – he was confessing his love,” she teases.

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Although marriage wasn’t immediately on the cards for the pair, Philippa, 25, explains, “we were always black or white, and had often discussed either going for this all the way or not wasting each other’s time. After the first two years or so, we’d kind of already known, but pulling through long-distance on our third year together kind of sealed the deal.” Fast forward to June 2019, and Philippa was in for a big surprise. Soon after wrapping up the hugely popular show VII (Sette) at Fort St Elmo, which she directed with her sister, Julian, 23, suggested they go on holiday the day after the show closed, knowing just how much his girlfriend was in need of a break. “It all seemed like a very innocent, obvious thing to do. As it turned out, he had been planning this proposal in Budapest for a while and it was the perfect excuse to get me there without suspecting anything! He proposed at Budapest Castle on 19th June 2019, exactly a year before we made it official on 19th June 2020.”


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Originally, the couple set the date for 17th May 2020, with a reception to be held at Razzett L-Abjad, but “the pandemic stuffed all our plans,” Philippa says. Before settling on their final date, the couple considered moving everything to 1st November, but the prolonged unknown and delaying starting their life together proved too exhausting. “We felt ready to take the step, and understood that at the end of the day, it was never really about the decorations, cake, or a massive dance party. It was about the love between us two, and that could go ahead under these circumstances. So, six weeks before, we headed to the public registry and locked in 19th June as our new date.” With a new date came a new location for the nuptials and reception – an intimate mass was held at the Bidnija parish church, followed by a gathering at Philippa’s family home in Bidnija. Although her heart was set on the original venue, Philippa still fulfilled her wish of getting married at a venue that she had never performed at, making her childhood home a perfect fit. “When we first decided on the date, restrictions had only allowed for small groups to gather and we were ready to proceed with a seated dinner with just our immediate families. However, four days before, restrictions lifted, so we could invite our 120 nearest and dearest,” says Philippa. Given the constraints at the time, no other venue was available for them to have their wedding reception, “and so we figured that doing it in a private place would give us flexibility and ownership to go about it as safely as we possibly could.”

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With Bidnija chapel merely 300 metres away from her home, and since large gatherings inside the church weren’t possible, the couple chose to be wed in the small, intimate chapel of her hometown, arriving there by horse-drawn carriage. Mass was celebrated by Fr Brendan Mark Gatt, who has known the couple since their younger years in the same youth group, and has seen their relationship unfold. “The ceremony was lovely – super prayerful, meaningful and overwhelming. My siblings, Bettina and Sam, took care of the music. They were patient enough to learn all the songs we had asked for and sounded heavenly,” she says. “It felt so intimate and emotional. I always expected to be a bride that would laugh through the ceremony, but there were moments where I couldn’t hold back the tears!” Adding to the moving proceedings of the day was the couple’s exit from the chapel, where they were greeted by their closest friends who gathered on the church parvis. In keeping with the location’s surroundings, the couple opted for a farm theme, featuring hay bales, wheelbarrows, barrels, a horse-drawn carriage and fairy lights as décor. “We thought that would keep it most informal and homegrown, since we obviously weren’t inviting people over to a legitimate wedding venue. I love how it turned out in the end,” says Philippa. “I wanted it to feel like a genuine, homegrown celebration of love, and in that sense, I think it did.” Much like many of her other wedding-related decisions, Philippa was swift about choosing her wedding dress, which she found at Natasha’s, with the help of the shop’s


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understanding and patient staff. Philippa wore a mermaid dress with lace at the top, tulle at the bottom and illusion mesh fabric on the back. “I had never thought I’d buy a dress like that – I thought I would look too serious and stuffy, and wanted something much more chill and playful. But they convinced me to give it a try and they were super helpful with making slight alterations to make it feel more like me,” she says. “My mother was the only one there to help me that day. We’re both very decisive and don’t really like lingering, so we bought the dress, shoes, veil and headpiece all at once, and sealed the deal in about one hour flat.” Although the couple had put a lot of thought into several details of their wedding day, they were forced to think on their feet closer to the big day, as the limits of what they could and could not do were constantly changing. “We had planned really cute home-made oliveoil souvenirs in jars, and personally illustrated invites by Michaela Mifsud, for our original May wedding. Unfortunately, neither of these came to pass in the end since restrictions were only lifted four days before. So, we actually invited our guests on Facebook with a good old Facebook event,” laughs Philippa. “We were also wary of giving out souvenirs since everyone was so touch-conscious at the time, so we avoided that altogether. And yes, we now have 400 baby bottles of olive oil in our garage.” As the couple were planning their June wedding before restrictions were lifted, they organised a seated dinner with their immediate families. Chef Michael Cauchi created a memorable five-course meal tailored to their liking – canapés, grilled calamari, an asparagus and pancetta risotto, lamb shanks and tagliata, followed by a chocolate fondant.

“I always expected to be a bride that would laugh through the ceremony, but there were moments where I couldn’t hold back the tears!” BLISS

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“I wanted it to feel like a genuine, homegrown celebration of love, and in that sense, I think it did.” “Never did I expect to be stuffed at my wedding! When the restrictions ended up easing, and we were able to have an after-party, Chef Michael even went on to create some COVID-19-safe party food for our guests, which was super last minute.” Philippa and Julian shared their first dance to a remix of I Love You Baby, and also managed to perform their own adapted rendition of Taylor Swift’s ME! “I was too hoarse from all the over excited screaming to sound articulate though, so it was just a good laugh.” Asked if there were any mishaps on the day, Philippa says she was told after the wedding that, just before she got out of the house to leave on the horse-drawn carriage with her father, the horses did their business right at the entrance of the house, where guests were expected to enter within an hour or so. “My poor cousin, who’d come over to help out with last minute preparations, ended up shovelling poop in the June sunshine, whilst my bridesmaids distracted me and managed to keep it a secret.”

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DETAILS AN UNEXPECTED AFTER-PARTY While the seated dinner was for 15 immediate family members, Philippa and Julian were able to throw a last-minute after-party with 120 of their closest friends. “Although the wedding schedule was strange, it was memorable in the end!”

“It wasn’t love at first sight at all. I was very naive and had friend-zoned him for a couple of years.” Tasked with picking her favourite part of the day, she considers the ceremony as a main highlight. “It was such a relief to finally be there, and to be going ahead in such different circumstances than we’d ever imagined. It was prayerful, intimate and homegrown, and just overwhelmingly emotional,” says Philippa, who adds that, for couples going through a similar situation with their wedding preparations, she suggests remembering what the wedding day is all about. “Confetti, cake, flowers and friends are all wonderful, but it was never about them. It’s about the love between you both, and nothing will take that from you unless you let it.”

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A BEAUTIFUL BRIDAL LOOK Not one to linger on her decisions, Philippa chose her wedding dress and main accessories within one hour, and without much convincing, settled on a dress she never expected she would go for – a fitted mermaid-cut gown featuring lace, tulle and illusion mesh fabric.


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LIZ JOSEF MSSP ORATORY, BIRKIRKARA VILLA ARRIGO, NAXXAR

Just the way you are From a 600-strong guest list and a honeymoon in the USA, Liz and Josef Cassar had to transform their wedding plans and expectations to get hitched last July. In the end, it turned out to be an easy decision with the goal of starting a life together. They tell Martina Said all about their special day. P H OTO S B Y TO N I O LO M B A R D I

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iz and Josef Cassar would have never imagined, back in mid-2019 when they settled on July of the following year for their big day, what it would take for them to finally make it to the altar. Loads of patience, support and understanding, among other things – which, as it turned out, proved to be a golden recipe for a strong start to married life. The couple, who met through a mutual friend, knew from early on that they had found something special in each other. Liz, 30, jokes that she knew she wanted to marry Jo, as she affectionately calls him, one week into dating him. “It didn’t take very long for me to realise he was the one. I was surprised when we started dating by how easy he was to get along with and I always felt comfortable and secure around him. I never really second guessed myself and never felt judged either, which was probably a first,” says Liz. “He is such a positive and easy-going person, and very easy to love, so it was a no brainer for me.” As for her hubby, he had a strong hunch that Liz was the woman he wanted to spend his life with after an impromptu outing along with her niece and nephew. “There was this one day in our first year of dating when we spent a day out with my niece and nephew. He took a photo of the three of us sitting together on a large deckchair and, in his words, ‘I saw the mother in you that day’,” which pretty much sealed the deal.

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Not too long after, the couple got engaged with the blessing of their adorable Labrador, Billy, and immediately set about planning their big day for the following summer, July 2020. Like many couples, however, they’ve had to deal with the disappointment, stress and uncertainty of getting married in the year of COVID-19, and after setting their original date for 18th July, were forced to move it to August of the following year when the pandemic persisted well into May. “I feel like I planned multiple weddings in one year!” says Liz. “When we decided to change the date to 21st August 2021, admittedly I wasn’t too happy about it, but I slowly came to terms with it. Then, for the sake of still celebrating our wedding date, we decided to plan a small civil wedding for 15 people at Villa Arrigo. This was going to be an intimate ceremony and a seated dinner with just our families.” As restrictions gradually lifted towards the end of June, the couple started discussing the possibility of keeping their original date and downsizing their wedding to 75 people, in the hope that, by then, gatherings would be able to increase to at least 150 people. Then, exactly four weeks before their original wedding date, all restrictions on event gatherings were lifted. In no time, the couple reshuffled their plans and, by and large, went ahead with what they originally had in mind. “It is the date we had originally set our hearts on and moving the wedding to next year felt as if we were losing out on an entire year, leaving us in a strange sense of limbo,” Liz explains. “We wanted to get married, and I was especially looking forward to starting a family. So once restrictions were lifted, it felt like this would be our year after all. In the end, we got our wedding and I am currently pregnant with twins, so I truly believe everything works out as it should!”

A major change the couple had to make was to their guest list. While their original list amounted to 600 people, Liz and Jo trimmed it by half to ensure that guests were comfortably spread out across the venue. “There were guests who weren’t keen to attend and that was completely understandable, but in the end, as the restrictions had been lifted, we decided to give our best shot at putting together the wedding day we wanted.” While there were many details of the wedding that Liz had originally been set on, the circumstances gave her a different perspective, and a newfound appreciation for what really mattered. “We ultimately planned our wedding in four weeks, and I felt so lucky to be having a wedding in the first place that I let go of all control. Whatever could be done in the time we had, we made it possible.” She adds, “I think it taught me a lot in a way. Everyone wants their wedding day to be perfect and for things to be a specific way, but I realised that none of it really mattered. It didn’t matter that my

“We wanted to get married, and I was especially looking forward to starting a family.”

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invites didn’t have the embossed detail I originally wanted – I was lucky to have invites designed and printed within three days, written in one day, and ready to be sent out exactly three weeks before the day. Compromising on things here and there allowed it all to come together.” The couple, who planned their wedding around a colour palette of sage and blush, each took responsibility for different parts of the wedding and, given their easy-going personalities, were able to agree on just about everything. “We took care of different things and were each the decision maker for those tasks. For instance, I took care of the flowers, church, food, venue, and souvenirs, while Jo took care of the entertainment, photographer and sound, among others.” For the souvenirs, Liz made what seemed like a neverending batch of sugar cookies. “It was a crazy idea as I was making them two days before the wedding with my mother. But it was fun too – we put on music and spent the day baking and decorating together. She does a fantastic job of cleaning up after too, so that was a bonus,” she laughs. The easiest choices for their wedding day, Liz admits, were the venue and caterers. Although she had looked into a few options – also to avoid getting married at the same venue as her sister’s wedding two years prior – she simply couldn’t see herself hosting their reception anywhere other than Villa Arrigo, with food and drinks by Osborne Caterers. Along with a selection of finger foods and micro plates served to guests, they also selected three main tables: an American table, a chip cart – the bride’s personal favourite – and a Tuscan table. “I felt like you can’t go wrong with them and I was right! Throughout the pandemic, I knew and heard of couples who had been treated unfairly by their chosen venue, but

Villa Arrigo were so understanding and cooperative,” says Liz. “They must have been dealing with a thousand other problems but never once ignored an email, were willing to change things around and simply be flexible.” On the day, Liz explains that she woke up feeling incredibly excited for what was to come, tinged with a layer of disbelief about the fact that her wedding day had really arrived. “I felt like it was a dream and I couldn’t believe it was happening. I kept expecting something to stop the wedding from going ahead! However, once I got to the church, I felt a mix of calm, happiness and excitement, and nothing mattered from that point onwards.” The bride rolled up outside the church in a traditional Maltese bus from Malta Bus Coop. Besides adding a fun and colourful element to the ceremony run-up, it also proved to be the perfect carriage for herself, her bridal party of six bridesmaids, a maid of honour, a page boy and a flower girl, as well as her parents to arrive in.

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DETAILS WEDDING MAKES THREE “The wedding cake was super simple in terms of decoration. I wanted the cake topper to be the highlight with a small surprise for Jo, featuring the three of us together,” says Liz, referring to their beloved dog, Billy.

For the ceremony, Liz and Jo opted for the MSSP Oratory in Birkirkara, where they attend mass on Sunday and feel part of the community, making this modern and intimate church a homely choice for them. “Fr Cilia led our mass, and he never fails to deliver a truly meaningful celebration,” says Liz. “I can’t really describe how it went, other than it was fun, relaxed and there was such a positive atmosphere.” When it came to choosing her wedding dress, the thenbride-to-be knew and found exactly what she wanted, but there was quite a story behind getting her hands on it. “My sister had travelled to Rome to buy her dress from a particular bridal brand and I had tagged along with her for fittings. I was mesmerized by the beauty of these dresses and thought that one day, I would choose my own dress from there,” she explains. When the time came to shop around for her dress, she visited the website of the same brand and found the perfect one for her. “I then learnt that Ivory & Co. retail Pronovias dresses in Malta, so I contacted them to see if they would bring it or if I should fly to Rome for it. Sure enough, they were due to receive it in a few months,” says Liz. “About two months later, I received a call to say the dress arrived and I went to try it on that same afternoon. I walked into the changing room, tried it on, it fit (more or less) perfectly, and I

A BEAMING BRIDE Although flexible about everything else, Liz was adamant about who she wanted for her hair and make-up. “The only thing I wouldn’t compromise on was having Karl Zammit Nash for make-up and Daphne Abela for my hair. I was set on both and was willing to work around them to make it happen!”

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bought it. I never even tried on another dress or considered anything else.” Liz’s stunning blush gown comprised a light and flowy skirt with a low front and back neckline, complete with an elegant front slit. The dress had a matching veil decorated with floral applique, and just as she did with her dress, she bought the first and only one she tried on. “I felt like it complemented the dress perfectly and it was such a beautiful veil.”

“I felt like it was a dream and I couldn’t believe it was happening. I kept expecting something to stop the wedding from going ahead! The newlyweds shared their first dance to Barry White’s Just the Way You Are, chosen by the groom for its meaningful lyrics, and enjoyed burning up the dancefloor for the rest of the evening, powered on by their band, family and friends. Pressed to pick a favourite part of the day, Liz says that her expectations were fulfilled beyond what she could have ever imagined, and she would do it all again exactly as they did. “The entire day was beautiful, but I have to say when I was walking down the aisle towards him, I remember feeling like I need to grab onto my dad because my legs had gone all jelly on me. I was so ready to be standing by his side at that point, and he had this massive smile on his face, which was sweet.” Despite having to ditch their US honeymoon for a short stint in Gozo, Liz and Jo learned that getting married during such an extraordinary time had its own valuable and meaningful lessons. “It’s okay for original plans to go astray, or to alter them as you go. In the end, you get to marry one another and begin a future together. And that is the most beautiful thing that you take away from your wedding day anyway.”

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NINNIA NICHOLAS LAPSI CHURCH, ST JULIAN’S PRIVATE RESIDENCE

A bohemian fairy tale After COVID-19 threatened to derail Ninnia Toledo and Nicholas (Niki) Osthus’s wedding plans, the couple had a month to start afresh. The bride tells Sarah Micallef how they pulled off an elegant garden wedding at home, with the help of their nearest and dearest. P H OTO S B Y M A R K C A S S A R

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very love story needs a good setting, and for jewellery designer Ninnia Toledo and property manager Nicholas (Niki) Osthus, it all began at Tony’s Bar. “I had just come out of a seven-year relationship and Niki was living in London at the time,” Ninnia recalls of that first encounter. Their paths would cross again some months later by sheer coincidence, when Ninnia’s best friend began dating Niki’s best friend. Asked if it was a case of love at first sight, she smiles, “there was definitely an immediate attraction.” Four years later, Niki decided to pop the question, but all did not quite go as planned. “It was originally supposed to be on Christmas morning,” Ninnia says, explaining that her family normally exchange gifts before the rest of the family arrives for Christmas lunch. “That year, my brother was abroad, and a lot of things were happening in the house, so we didn’t exchange gifts until the evening,” she recalls, noting that by that time, the entire family, including aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, was present. “Everyone knew what was happening so everyone arrived earlier than usual, not leaving him time to find the right moment. He ended up being pressured by my cousins and had to propose in front of about 30 of us,” she laughs.

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“I wanted it to be a bohemian fairy tale, and thanks to my mum, that’s exactly what I had.” Wedding planning began soon after, and unlike most brides, Ninnia decided to leave it all in the hands of her mother – accomplished interiors and fashion designer Pippa Toledo. “My mother took care of everything, from start to finish. I wasn’t stressed at all, but she was,” Ninnia recalls. Yet, as 2020 has shown, sometimes, even the best laid plans are subject to change, and Ninnia’s wedding, along with so many others this year, was thrown into uncertain territory by COVID-19. “The reception was originally planned for 21st June 2020 at a villa in Marsascala, with mass at the Loreto Chapel in Gudja,” Ninnia says, admitting that in truth, her initial wish was to get married at Lapsi Church and have a reception at home, but it would only have been possible with a smaller wedding. And, as it turns out, that’s exactly what she ended up with. After rescheduling and amending their original plans due to COVID-19 limitations, the couple tied the knot a month later, on 25th July 2020, with mass celebrated at Lapsi Church and a reception at home. “It’s actually what I always wanted,” the bride reveals happily.

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DETAILS UNUSUAL INVITATIONS Doing away with tradition (and with only a month to plan their big day), Ninnia and Niki opted against having souvenirs, and for their invitations, chose a simple photograph of a flower in their garden, where their garden party wedding would eventually be held.

“I got a giggling fit right before I said, ‘I do’, which lasted for a while!” One of the couple’s main priorities was that their big day would represent Ninnia and Niki’s personalities, and not “a stereotypical wedding we’re all used to”. The result was a bohemian-style garden party styled by Pippa Toledo, which exceeded the bride’s expectations: “I wanted it to be a bohemian fairy tale, and thanks to my mum, that’s exactly what I had.”

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COOKIE CAKE Another unusual element to Ninnia and Niki’s big day was the absence of a wedding cake. Instead, the pair chose… a cookie cake! “I didn't want the traditional almond white iced wedding cake, so we had a fourtier cookie stack made up of dark chocolate, chocolate chip and white chocolate chip cookies, with a cream frosting between each cookie and white icing sprinkled all over, covered in flowers,” the bride describes.


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After a frantic month of preparations amidst the changing realities of COVID-19, their big day finally arrived, and Ninnia awoke feeling slightly the worse for wear. “I was exhausted! I had stayed up all night with my cousin watching a movie, so I only slept about four hours, but I was very calm until I left the house,” the laidback bride recalls. And it lasted right up until their personalised ceremony, during which, she recalls, “I even got a giggling fit right before I said, ‘I do’, which lasted for a while!” The bride said her ‘I dos’ in impeccable style, in a gown designed by none other than her mother. “I always knew what I wanted when it came to my dress,” she recalls, describing it as a mix between bohemian and gypsy. “Having the most talented designer as a mother, she put it all together, including the bridesmaids’ dresses, while I designed all the jewellery and my headband, which I loved,” Ninnia adds. Despite cutting their guest list in half, the couple were still able to celebrate with 120 of their nearest and dearest, with Niki’s father even making the trip from overseas to join in the celebrations. The catering was left in the capable hands of Osborne Caterers, who “always deliver amazing service and delicious food” Ninnia gushes, adding that everyone in attendance was very well looked after throughout.

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“I was lucky enough to have my grandmother, Therese Sullivan, who is a renowned floral designer and is now retired at the age of 89, do all the flower arrangements.”

Later on, true to form, the couple continued to sway from tradition when it came to their first dance, opting for an unusual choice of song. “We danced to ‘If You Think I’m Sexy’ by Rod Stewart,” they laugh. Still, the day wasn’t without its emotional moments, Ninnia reveals. “I was lucky enough to have my grandmother, Therese Sullivan, who is a renowned floral designer and is now retired at the age of 89, do all the flower arrangements for my wedding. She was very unwell last year, and to see her setting up the church the day before was really emotional for me,” the bride recalls. And looking back, despite the setbacks and frantic change of plans, the pair wouldn’t change a thing about their big day, admitting that is was just perfect for them. Sharing a few words of advice to other couples whose wedding plans may have been affected by COVID-19, Ninnia says, “to anyone who might be getting married in this uncertain time, sometimes, things work out for the better. As long as you’re surrounded by the people that mean the most to you, your day is going to be perfect.”

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KAY MATTHEW OUR LADY OF VICTORY CHURCH, VALLETTA XARA LODGE, RABAT

Two hearts as one After eight years together, supporting each other’s dreams during their formative years, Kay and Matthew Schembri Vanhear tied the knot in front of their beloved family and friends. Here, they tell Rebecca Anastasi all about their big day, and share the emotions of their traditional yet modern wedding. P H OTO S B Y T Ü M E R G E N Ç T Ü R K

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n 2005, Matthew and Kay certainly didn’t have wedding bells on their minds as they helped out at their local parish church in Santa Luċija. “He was an altar boy and I was part of the church choir back then,” Kay recalls. “Of course, we were present for every mass and community activity, so we had started to recognise each other, and say hi,” Kay continues, adding that her first impression of Matthew was that he was “tall and handsome”. After some time, the pair started to spend time together with a group of friends after Sunday morning mass, and they “bonded immediately”. The pair were spending even more time together as their O-level exams approached. “We both had a Computer Studies exam which was not my forte, and we had a project to present as part of our assessment. Matthew kindly offered to help me out,” Kay says. That time together cemented their interest, and the teens become an official couple. Their first date – a ride out with their bikes – reflected their adventurous personalities, and left Kay reeling with excitement. “That night, I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep!” The couple got involved in myriad social activities together, joining a youth group called Spirit Alive Youths (SAY), organising a talent show, and participating in initiatives in their community in Santa Luċija. “The more I got to know him, the more I fell in love with his willingness to help others, his morals, his calm demeanour when dealing with everyday work, and his intelligence,” Kay smiles. Indeed, the love and companionship felt by the couple lay solid foundations for the future. “Matthew and I always confided in each other and we sought each other in the good times

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and Franco holding the Nikon camera, both prepared for a photoshoot. Matthew started talking again, knelt down on one knee and opened a box, saying ‘Will you marry me?” I burst out crying with tears of joy and I couldn’t even answer!” Kay recalls. She said yes, and once back in Malta, the couple started preparing for the big day, which involved juggling between work commitments and house renovations. They decided to tie the knot on 9th November 2019 and agreed to be actively involved in logistics for the big day. Their priority, Kay says, was to organise “an enjoyable evening for all the guests, spiced up with special moments of us”. They also had specific ideas for some of the wedding details, one of which was the creation of a logo they would use on their invites, and as a backdrop at the venue. The couple also wanted the cake table to be the centrepiece at the venue, Xara Lodge hall, and “as the date was getting closer, we wanted to add some elegant lighting which could fill the hall ceiling and shine attention onto the cake table,” Kay explains. The couple came across The Events Company (TEC) through social media and, after sharing their ideas with the team, were sent images to help them visualise the options, one of which consisted of a white cake table centrepiece, lighting up the tent in warm red – one of the wedding theme colours. TEC also suggested fairy lights over the couple’s logo, which would hang as a stage backdrop set up for the pre-wedding photoshoot.

and bad. We love each other’s company and, even though we are somewhat different, we do find a compromise,” Kay explains. After eight years together, the couple decided to step up their level of commitment and started house hunting. It took two years for them to find what they were looking for: a 300-year-old house that needed restoration which, once done, would make the perfect home. “Upon signing the contract for the house, we knew we were ready to tie the knot and, I guess, it was at that point that my hopes were raised in anticipation for a proposal!” Kay didn’t have to wait long. A year later, the couple were on holiday with two friends, Riann and Franco, in Scotland. The friends were on their way to Isle of Skye and drove past “a magnificent ancient castle in the middle of the Loch”. They decided to stop, and headed to the visitors’ centre for lunch, before deciding to go on a tour of the castle. “After a few minutes, Matthew grabbed my hand and told me ‘let’s go and take a selfie’. He then turned, facing me, and put my two hands in his. But I hadn’t realised what was about to happen, so I tried to convince him to pose. At one point, I turned and saw Riann holding the Go-Pro

“I will never forget the moment when I opened the doors to the changing room.”

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“TEC understood our tastes immediately and took into consideration our ideas and wishes from the start, providing us with personalised attention. When Matthew and I arrived at Xara Lodge, we were amazed with the decor and very satisfied, since they managed to add more glamour to our special evening,” Kay says. The bride’s decisiveness was also key to her choosing her wedding dress in record time! Years before, in 2015, she had saved an image of a bridal dress by design house Pronovias, and that provided the template for the bride-tobe’s wedding gown choice. Keen to get started as quickly as possible, Kay booked an appointment at Ivory & Co, where she was presented with several dresses to try on. None of them seemed to work, but, fortunately, her aunt spotted an exquisite gown on the rack. “This was the fourth dress which I had tried on, and when I looked at myself in the mirror, I started feeling butterflies. It made me feel comfortable and confident, and I will never forget the moment when I opened the doors to the changing room. My mother and aunt looked stunned for a while and didn’t say a word. And, then, they broke into tears. I started crying too and I turned to the sales assistant and said: ‘I think this is THE dress!!’” Embroidered with rhinestones and boasting a mermaid skirt in Chantilly lace, the gown was complemented with a four-metre veil. Family also played an integral role on the day itself, which was celebrated with 375 guests. Kay’s bridal team

consisted of seven bridesmaids – which included her sister as maid of honour – and one flower girl, Matthew’s cousin, who was only seven years old. The groom had one best man – his best friend, Jurgen – as well as three ushers and one witness, his brother, Julian. The bridal car – a silver Rolls Royce from Meli’s Car Garage coordinated through Dalton’s Chauffeur Services – picked the party up on time. But a thick traffic jam threatened to upend the schedule for the day. “The main roads in the south of Malta had closed! Dalton’s immediately contacted my mother to devise another plan so that I wouldn’t leave Matthew waiting at the church! They were so efficient that, although the streets were packed, everything ran

“Matthew and I always confided in each other and we sought each other in the good times and bad times.”

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smoothly and we all made it on time for the wedding mass,” Kay smiles. And while there is no one moment which stands out as a ‘favourite’ from that day, Kay recalls the feeling of arriving at the church in Valletta – where tourists and passers-by applauded on seeing her about to walk in for the ceremony. “That definitely added to the excitement,” she recalls. “And as I held onto my father’s arm and walked into the church, I felt complete. I was proud that Matthew and I had made it to this day together, and I felt grateful to have so many family and friends supporting us through this journey. I couldn’t ask for anything more!" From the moment the couple said their ‘I do’s, Kay and Matthew’s wedding was filled with magical memories, including a very special surprise organised by the bride’s sister. “Just before our first dance, Angele stepped up on stage and sang this beautiful song which reflected the story of our relationship! She had written the lyrics to the song

“Just before our first dance, Angele stepped up on stage and sang this beautiful song which reflected the story of our relationship!”

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REAL WEDDING

DETAILS A WEDDING LOGO Matthew and Kay were intent on putting their personal stamp on their big day – even in the form of a logo. “From the start, Matthew and I worked on designing our own logo which we envisaged to use on our invitations, as a stage backdrop, in our pre-wedding photoshoot, as well as on our souvenirs and gifts to the bridal team, and we were inspired by Maltese doors and wrought iron works,” Kay explains. Matthew worked on the design – though there were a few iterations before the final version was settled.

herself. I was fascinated by how much my sister understood our relationship. I had always known I could confide in her and she had always filled me with words of encouragement, but the words to the song she wrote will forever remain imprinted in our love story,” Kay smiles. Looking back, Kay explains that all the preparations that went into the wedding reaped their rewards. “Everyone knew the day’s programme by heart. There were some unexpected delays and some things did get forgotten, but our family and wedding team handled everything smoothly so we could enjoy the evening – which we did,” she says. For, everything does not have to be perfect, Kay adds. “All the work done by the couple, as well as their friends and family – as in our case – is a sign of something much more precious: the love and dedication felt by those closest to you.”

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HOME-MADE CAROB SYRUP Kay and Matthew wanted to add a personal touch to the souvenirs presented at the wedding. “We decided to give out home-made carob syrup made by Matthew’s mum and aunt. Their love for home-made food sparked the idea – which involved a long process of cutting the carob pods, boiling them, preparing the mix and letting the syrup settle – and we thought it was a good idea for the beginning of winter season.”


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FASHION

GHOSTS OF THE PAST LOCATION: Social Care Standards Authority PHOTOGRAPHER: Kris Micallef PHOTO SHOOT COORDINATOR: Sarah Micallef HAIR & MAKEUP: Francesca & Lorraine, Alfie's Hair & Beauty MODEL: Marysia, Island Talent Agency

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Dress

: Designed by internationally renowned brand Millanova, this dress has a magical, fairy princess feel to it. The skirt has a long train, but is very light in weight, allowing any bride to manoeuvre easily on her wedding day. The details on the bodice are sparkly but ever so delicate. Exclusively available at WEDDINGBELLS. Jewellery available at ZSAZSA.

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Dress

: This gown encompasses a combination of the traditional with a touch of modern femininity, elegance and chic. Exclusively available at ArtBridal boutique

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Dress: Delicate lace covers this beautiful dress by Leendias. The bodice

is corseted and the back features a fine lace-up fastening, a strong new trend for next season. Exclusively available at WEDDINGBELLS. Jewellery available at ZSAZSA.

Headpiece

: A beautiful headpiece, the Ivory Flower tiara is sophisticated and romantic. It is softly embellished with handcrafted clay florals in soft ivory and leaf motifs, accented with pearls. Each flower petal is individually handcrafted to create this delicate design. It is handcrafted from tarnish resistant jewellery wire and attached to a fine metal headband, with combs attached at the ends for extra security. Designed to wear with a romantic updo or half-up hairstyles, it suits a variety of wedding dresses. Exclusively at SC Bridal Designs.

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Dress: Every detail of this dress is infused with love to create unforgettable moments. Exclusively available at ArtBridal boutique Headpiece: A beautiful headpiece, the Ivory Flower tiara is sophisticated and romantic. It is softly embellished with handcrafted clay florals in

soft ivory and leaf motifs, accented with pearls. Each flower petal is individually handcrafted to create this delicate design. It is handcrafted from tarnish resistant jewellery wire and attached to a fine metal headband, with combs attached at the ends for extra security. Designed to wear with a romantic updo or half-up hairstyles, it suits a variety of wedding dresses. Exclusively at SC Bridal Designs.

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Dress

: Stunning gown with detachable train designed by Ida Torez. Beautifully embellished with delicate crystals and beads, this gown is guaranteed to turn heads. Exclusively available at WEDDINGBELLS. Jewellery available at ZSAZSA.

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Dress

: An elegant silhouette and impeccable details, with fine embroideries that showcase an effortless glamorous modern edge. Exclusively available at ArtBridal boutique.

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WELLNESS

WELLNESS & YOUR WEDDING

THE TWO GO TOGETHER BEAUTIFULLY AT THE ATHENAEUM SPA Planning a wedding can be overwhelming, and scheduling some ‘you’ time could be the best decision you take in the run-up to your big day. Where better than at the newly reimagined Athenaeum Spa at the five-star Corinthia Palace in Attard? BY JO CARUANA & LAURA BONNICI P H OTO S B Y J A C K H A R DY

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know you know ‘the feeling’. Yes, that one: when your to-do list runs wild, there aren’t enough hours in the day, and you’re not quite sure whether you’re coming or going. Well here’s the good news. That feeling is completely normal when you’re planning a wedding. You’re crafting

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one of the most important days of your life! It’s no wonder you’re running around like a headless chicken trying to make everything perfect. But the fact that you’re feeling overwhelmed is normal doesn’t make it ideal. Thankfully there is an antidote –


WELLNESS

time for yourself to think, reflect, rejuvenate, and relax at Malta’s newest and most luxurious spa. The reimagined Athenaeum, which is located within Corinthia Palace in Attard, is the ultimate wellness space. Here, every aspect of your wellness journey has been curated – from the striking design of the spa itself to the fantastic facilities and luxurious ESPA treatments. Nothing has been left to chance, and you will be brilliantly taken care of from the moment you enter to the second you walk back out into the world ready to face the next step in your wedding journey. A PLACE TO CELEBRATE YOUR UPCOMING WEDDING Finding the perfect place to mark those special moments in the run-up to your wedding in Malta isn’t always easy. But Athenaeum – and the wider Corinthia Palace – makes light work of this. The spa has been designed as the ideal place for friends – such as your bridal party – and family to enjoy time together. Those eager to plan an intimate hens’ (or grooms’) event, for instance, will relish the facilities and versatility promised by Athenaeum. Here you could start your day in the Vitality Suite, with its sauna, steam room, vitality pool and heated marble beds – the perfect base for all of you to enjoy throughout the day. Each guest can then make the most of the other facilities at their leisure, such as the Serenity Lounge, jacuzzi or spacious indoor pool. Of course, a full list of high-end treatments by ESPA is available, including the ESPA Mindful Massage, the ESPA Inner Calm Massage, and the ESPA Scalp Massage. And why not make it a wider celebration at some of the other iconic destinations within this celebrated hotel? Start your day with brunch at Villa Corinthia, and then make the good times last longer with a bubbly Afternoon Tea, a Far Eastern dinner at Rickshaw, or even a five-star overnight stay. After all, there is so much to celebrate! A PLACE TO PREPARE TO LOOK YOUR BEST Looking and feeling your best is likely to be a priority on your big day – so you will want to have the best people around you. Athenaeum Spa and Corinthia Palace’s specialised teams will be able to guide you on so many aspects – from your skin and nails to your hair. Start your time with a cocktail in the chic Nail Lounge, choosing the style and colour to suit your wedding palette. Then, consider booking an ESPA Optimal Skin Facial or ESPA Personalised Facial in one of the spa’s seven beautifully designed treatment rooms or couple suite. Follow this with a hair treatment at the Corinthia Palace’s Dean Gera Salon, and you’ll certainly be all set to look your best!

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WELLNESS

“There is an antidote to pre-wedding stress: time for yourself to think, reflect, rejuvenate and relax at Malta’s newest and most luxurious spa.” A PLACE TO FEEL READY Finally, as your wedding day really draws closer, you may want to take some time exclusively for you. This is the ideal opportunity to book a treatment as a relaxing treat just days before the wedding. After all, the unparalleled atmosphere of Athenaeum makes it the ultimate escape. Here you can switch off your phone and dedicate a few precious hours to really soaking up the magnitude of the moment – perhaps while lying on the heated relaxation beds or in the Vitality Pool. Bliss! Then, take some time to unwind further by the indoor pool, giving your to-do list a final check, before taking the leap into one of the most exciting moments of your life! To reserve your personalised experience at the reimagined Athenaeum Spa, visit www.athenaeumspa.com or call 2144 0301.

THE ATHENAEUM INTRODUCES ESPA TO MALTA ESPA is a pioneering brand in skincare and wellbeing therapy, and it was founded on the need for holistic, effective and natural products to treat skin, mind and body. Athenaeum Spa is the only place in Malta to feature the brand’s treatments and stock its products.

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MED-AESTHETIC BEAUTY AND HOLISTIC WELLBEING EXPERIENCE World-class aesthetic doctor Dr Raina Rodrigues (née Zarb Adami) has merged her London Harley Street clinic, Aesthetic Virtue, with Athenaeum Spa, to offer you the optimal, natural and beautiful results and excellent service for which Aesthetic Virtue has become internationally renowned.

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s part of your holistic spa experience, now you can indulge in a leading range of facial rejuvenation treatments delivered by specialised experts, from skin care such as chemical peels and micro needling to injectables such as botulinum toxin and dermal fillers. Other signature Aesthetic Virtue treatments such as a variety of painless permanent laser hair reduction options are also available exclusively in Malta at the Athenaeum Spa. “I am hugely excited to be able to offer the bespoke Aesthetic Virtue service from within Athenaeum Spa,” shares Dr Raina Rodrigues. “Aesthetic Virtue is a luxury chain of boutique medical aesthetic clinics with high-quality service and medical standards – so the Athenaeum Spa is a natural match. Both establishments are operated with the highest standards of luxury, customer service and attention to exquisite detail. The range of wellbeing and aesthetic treatments offered by Athenaeum are a continuum from the medical procedures Aesthetic Virtue delivers. It is a perfect partnership – that can help you prepare for yours.” As you get ready for your nuptials, Athenaeum Spa can offer both you and your party a chance to escape the stresses of wedding planning, while also checking off your to-do list the aesthetic treatments that will help you look and feel your best as you get married.

“Aesthetic Virtue is a luxury chain of boutique medical aesthetic clinics with high-quality service and medical standards.” “The artistic side of aesthetic medicine is so rewarding. I love working with a patient and exploring his or her goals in terms of improving appearance and that feeling of wellbeing, be it through enhancement of facial features or rejuvenation,” explains Dr Raina Rodrigues. “The journey to preparing for your wedding should start with us in the months before, so that we can plan your treatments and deliver a tailor-made service that will improve skin health and enhance facial features to be their best on your big day.” Aesthetic Virtue is open now at Athenaeum Spa. To book your consultation or treatment email info@aesthetic-virtue.co.uk.

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MY DRESS

MANY DRESSES,

ACTUALLY

After postponing their 2019 wedding, Rebecca and Chris Mallia Bugeja were all set on celebrating their nuptials in style this year, with the bride already having bought a gown which would take her to their ‘I do’s. But, when the pandemic hit, a new game-plan was needed. And this required an armoury of wedding dresses. Rebecca Anastasi learns more. P H OTO S B Y S H A N E P WAT T S

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MY DRESS

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020 will forever be remembered as the year of disruption. Across the globe, weddings have been upended and futures have fallen into disarray as COVID-19 has swept across countries, stilling societies, splitting families and scuppering short-term arrangements. But, for Rebecca and Chris Mallia Bugeja, it would take much more than a pandemic to stop them from getting hitched. The couple had first met virtually, over MSN Messenger 12 years ago, when a mutual friend introduced them. “Our friend actually added me to her and Chris’ chat because she was no longer interested in him and wanted to politely distract him,” Rebecca laughs, adding that she was only 15 at the time, while Chris had turned 16. Time cemented their relationship and, after buying a property together in 2016, the pair decided to plan their wedding, as early as three years before their target date – 22nd June 2019. “In 2016, we just chose a date and started to plan, after realising that the June 2019 slots were fast being booked. A few months later, Chris officially proposed to me in our new home – which was still a dusty mess. It was very intimate and sweet,” Rebecca smiles. Soon afterwards, the bride-to-be purchased her wedding dress. “I bought it in 2017. I had seen it and had fallen in love with it,” she says. And even though the couple had planned the wedding so far ahead, Rebecca knew it would stand the test of time. “It was a classic dress, so I wasn’t worried about it going out of style” she recalls. In the meantime, life continued to challenge and delight, as Rebecca decided to start an online Master’s degree with the University of Nottingham. But when the couple realised that her graduation would happen only a few weeks after their 2019 wedding, they decided to push

the big day by a year. “We felt that the run-up to the wedding was going to be super stressful – what with planning for the day and submitting my dissertation at the same time – so we decided to push our wedding to 2020.” Postponing a wedding is not an easy thing to do. Rebecca explains that the decision took a heavy toll – “it was very taxing both mentally and emotionally”, she says – so when the COVID-19 pandemic made its presence felt on the island, with restrictions halting and cancelling weddings across the country, the couple took the brave decision to carry on, regardless. “We had actually pushed it again, to 2021, but we were unhappy with the new date and time. We realised that life is too short to bother with the stress. Weddings should be fun, and it’s better to enjoy the here and now, and make the best out of the situation rather than continuously postponing. We just wanted to get married and start our life together, during this new normal,” Rebecca says. Scaling plans down was the only option, and the couple started gearing up to hold the ceremony at the Marriage Registry office in Valletta, followed by lunch at The Harbour Club and an Indian dinner buffet at Rebecca’s mum’s house. Only 15 guests were invited, and the new format needed a new look, with the bride opting to purchase two long white dresses and two evening dresses – one in nude and one in silver, featuring sequins – which would feel more practical and in style with the couple’s “new normal” wedding. “Well, technically I bought around eight dresses and then narrowed it down to four, returning the others,” Rebecca laughs, explaining that three of the final outfits came from one of the UK’s leading high street chains specialising in occasion

“Weddings should be fun, and it’s better to enjoy the here and now, and make the best out of the situation rather than continuously postponing.”

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“Today, I even get to wear my evening gowns for family weddings, and so I’m making the most of the money I spent.”

wear – which were offering a 70 per cent sale – while the fourth dress, one of the white gowns, was actually purchased from ASOS. “On the day I decided to wear the evening ones, but all four were ready and hemmed, just waiting for me to decide. I wanted something classy, and something which wouldn’t make me cringe when looking back at my wedding photos,” she explains, adding that the tones of nude and silver were selected since she felt that these would always remain in fashion. “The cuts and styles of both dresses are also simple and elegant so, I daresay, I’ll never look back and regret my choices.”

Indeed, despite their humbler origins – particularly when compared to the expensive traditional wedding gown – Rebecca’s evening dresses still made her feel special. “I was so happy I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing, and this also showed in our photos,” she recalls, adding that the silver gown was her favourite, since it made her “feel like a princess.” “It had a very short train which made it feel very bridal, and it had less sequins than the nude one, making it suitable for the morning ceremony. The train also had to be picked up while I walked.” But the nude dress also fit the occasion, being “better suited for our intimate photoshoot since the colour really popped amongst the trees and seascape background,” she remembers. Following her experience, and with brides frequently spending thousands of euro on a gown they only wear for one day, would Rebecca suggest experimenting with something less traditional, and opting for eveningwear instead? “Definitely! I would definitely recommend it to any other bride. I was surprised by how elegant and bridal they felt on the day, and how nice they finally ended up looking in our photos. Sometimes we associate weddings with the traditional white wedding gown. However, I don’t always

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MY DRESS

A WORD FROM

THE GROOM think this should be the case,” she asserts. She also makes a case in favour of sustainability, one of her core values. “Today, I even get to wear my evening gowns for family weddings, and so I’m making the most of the money I spent. I try to be as sustainable as possible in my decisions since I am very environmentally aware.” Looking back, Rebecca is convinced that her and Chris’ wedding – taking place during the so-called “new normal” – had plenty of qualities which proved that COVID-era weddings can one-up traditional affairs. “There were lots of advantages. We got to actually sit down and enjoy good conversations with all 15 of our guests twice in one day – for both lunch and dinner,” she explains saying this precious time spent with family and friends replaced the usual stress of trying to fit in all their ‘thank you’s. And despite losing their initial deposits, the couple ended up spending very little on their wedding. “We still had a fabulous and luxurious day. We also had so much food ordered that everyone left with a small bag for lunch! We had about four containers of Indian curry in our freezer to avoid food waste,” she says. Indeed, Rebecca and Chris’ wedding fell in line with their environmental conscientiousness. “We are both environmentally aware, so not throwing food away was definitely a plus – that was actually something which worried us when we thought we were going to have the big wedding reception!” A few months on, the couple – now settling into marriage – are able to look back on the day and feel satisfied that,

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“Since Rebecca and I lived together, I had already seen all the dresses she had ordered, and we narrowed it down to four together, as she wanted my opinion on the dresses before the big day. When I saw her on our wedding day, I thought to myself that not only am I going to marry my best friend, but I’m also going to marry a very beautiful woman.”

“On the day I decided to wear the evening ones, but all four [gowns] were ready and hemmed, just waiting for me to decide.” not only did their celebrations go well, but that they were able to spend quality time with the people they loved. “The wedding ended up being a whole day affair so we made the most of our day – more so than we would have done if we had actually had the big wedding,” Rebecca smiles. As a reminder of that day, the bride still has four stunning gowns in her wardrobe, just waiting to be worn again. And while Rebecca’s first traditional wedding dress is still hanging in the wardrobe, so far unworn, she says that this might be used when they celebrate with an official mass next year, along with all the couple’s original invitees.


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VENUES

LOVE SET AGAINST THE BACKDROP OF HISTORY The Mediterranean Conference Centre (MCC), built by the Knights of Malta in the 16th century, has long been associated with winter gala events. And, now, their newly-opened Grand Harbour Terrace draws weddings outdoors, inviting couples to celebrate their vows in a setting which boasts some of the capital’s most spectacular views. Rebecca Anastasi finds out more.

“They will never forget the view and they will have beautiful wedding photographs to treasure for years to come.”

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he Mediterranean Conference Centre is situated on the cusp of the capital, its thick, cool walls standing guard, as they have for centuries. Built as a Holy Infirmary – a Sacra Infermeria – by the Order of the Knights of St John, who ruled Malta for over two centuries, the site, today, is a reminder of the island’s complex history, being used as a conference centre which is focused on fostering events intent on looking ahead. To this end, it has been the home of artistic repertoires and festivals while also catering to individuals looking to celebrate their wedding nuptials in a unique setting – one

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which encapsulates Malta’s history. Traditionally, however, most of these events have stuck to the MCC’s indoor halls, with their cavernous space able to accommodate any request, no matter the size. But, this summer, the Grand Harbour Terrace – a roof promenade boasting a staggering 1,063 square metres, the length of the entire street – was added to the Centre’s long list of assets. “We’re lucky to have such an imposing building in this location,” smiles Rosette Micallef, Director of Sales and Marketing. “And, the Grand Harbour Terrace, as the name implies, really adds something spectacular to the equation,


VENUES

“We’ve only been open for two months, but thanks to the space we have, we can easily accommodate the health measures in force.” with its magnificent views overlooking Valletta’s famous natural port.” Indeed, this roof promenade offers stunning vistas over the honeycombed walls of the capital, down to the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean – a medley of rich tones which light up and deepen as the day closes. Opening the roof terrace has been a dream for the management of MCC many years in the making, Ms Micallef explains. “This has been on the agenda for a long time, but, since we wanted to use it as a multi-purpose location – offering an Augmented Reality Museum (the first of its kind in Malta) as well as an events venue – there were technological challenges we first had to overcome.” Despite this, the difficulties were ironed out and, after much research and investment, the site opened its doors to the general public last August, during what Ms Micallef succinctly calls “challenging times”. However, with so many restrictions in place for indoor events, these are probably the best times to open an outdoor venue, I point out. She admits that the roof terrace has made things easier for couples seeking to get married despite the pandemic. “We’ve only been open for two months, but thanks to the space we have, we can easily accommodate the health measures in force. For instance, we’ve had events with 230 guests – seated at round tables, allowing for a distance of between two and three metres between each table, so everyone can be seated very comfortably without having to worry about social distancing,” she says. This peace of mind has become invaluable to couples seeking to get on with their lives, even when COVID-19 threatens to upend all plans. “We try to be positive in every situation,” Ms Micallef smiles. “While it’s true that stand up receptions can be more fun – since you can move around, socialise and chat to a lot of people – it’s nice to dress up to the nines and head to a seated, or a gala, dinner. And the set-up for a dinner reception can be truly spectacular.” Moreover, she insists, couples could actually save money on a seated affair. “Sit-down weddings have a reputation of being a little more expensive, but generally, a couple ends up saving on the drinks, since most guests will end up drinking wine, rather than spirits,” she explains. Three exclusive caterers, Corinthia Caterers, James Caterers and Xara Catering, offer a gamut of options – from a three-course dinner all the way up to a nine-course meal – adding to the spate of choices available.

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“Every booking always comes with a second back-up venue, so couples don’t have to worry about the weather.” Yet, with winter edging closer, many couples may have an eye as to what to do when the weather turns. Ms Micallef admits that the best time to use the Grand Harbour Terrace is between May and October, even though, she says, November can also be a particularly lovely time. “However, I would be careful about using the terrace during the winter since the location is exposed and is also susceptible to wind gusts, so it can be risky.” Understanding this limitation, the MCC guarantees the booking of a back-up space – the 1,705 square metre Sacra Infermeria Hall downstairs – on confirming the Grand Harbour Terrace. “I think this really takes us a cut above the rest, since every booking always comes with a second backup venue, so couples don’t have to worry about the weather as they will always have the option of moving indoors. This really takes the stress out of wedding planning,” Ms Micallef asserts. This indoor hall, as well as the much-used La Valette Hall – also available as an indoor option – boasts the breadth needed to allow couples to celebrate with a substantial number of guests, while still adhering to the current protocols. But, looking beyond COVID-19, each space, Ms Micallef asserts, is able to provide wedding organisers with the flexibility for multiple types of set-ups, catering to any desire. However, in Ms Micallef ’s view, couples seeking to truly add something special to their big day should take

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advantage of the breath-taking beauty on display outside, on the Grand Harbour Terrace. “I love sunsets: the colours and the lighting at the golden hour are truly magical. So, I would really advise those looking to celebrate their marriage to book a time of day where they can see the colours change, and the sunset from the roof promenade. They will never forget the view and they will have beautiful wedding photographs to treasure for years to come.” For bookings, contact the Mediterranean Conference Centre via their online portal, mcc.com.mt/wedding.


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The events of the past months will likely have a lasting effect on the world of weddings. From a focus on sourcing local to the rise of micro weddings, Martina Said picks her favourite wedding trends for 2021.

Authentic photography

Big ballgowns

Many of the patient brides forced to postpone their wedding day are choosing to go all out with their choice of gown. Big ballgowns with personal touches, such as a hand-me-down veil or embroidered details, are expected to be popular, and, luckily, ballgowns never really fall out of favour!

Wildflower arrangements

Alyssa Brooke Photography

The events of the past months have placed an emphasis on embracing what truly matters, and couples are increasingly requesting a casual, fun and intimate approach to their wedding photos, capturing the kind of fleeting moments that simply cannot be posed.

Justin Alexander

WEDDING TRENDS

 With an ever-growing appreciation for the outdoors and respect for nature, couples are opting for wild and seasonal flowers over imported ones; an eco-friendly choice which supports the growing need for sustainability in the world of weddings, and which look downright amazing too.

deerpearlflowers.com

Old Hollywood glamour

 Brides-to-be are looking to up their beauty game with a striking look that evokes Old Hollywood glamour – a departure from the ‘barely there makeup’ look that’s been popular for years. Think sharp lines, bold lips, and charming accessories that are anything but minimal.

Locally sourced everything

 Supporting local vendors has never been more crucial, and many couples are embracing this and channelling it through their wedding day choices, from food menus crafted with local ingredients to handmade décor items produced by local artisans and creatives. Glamradar.com

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elegantweddinginvites.com

whimsicalwonderlandweddings.com

WEDDING TRENDS

Raw materials

Textural details with a strong sway towards that 70s vibe are expected to be big – boho brides, rejoice! Raw and natural materials in the form of rattan décor, textured linens, wooden furniture and wildflowers will give any wedding a romantic yet laid-back edge.

Focus on ambience

No matter the size of the celebration, mood-setting is becoming increasingly popular (and important) for weddings. Use lighting creatively, such as hanging pendant lights or fairy light curtains, and carve out corners at your venue that stir guests’ senses through live music, interactive food stations and tactile décor.

Micro weddings

On the less lavish end of the wedding spectrum is a rise in micro weddings, typically consisting of smaller celebrations that tend to be more affordable, less stressful and a little more casual – not to mention intimate and equally stunning.

Heirloom investments

Pronovias

Bold sleeves

Whether a stunning headpiece or decadent piece of jewellery, brides are approaching their accessories as an investment – an item they can wear time and again, and which can be handed down to future generations, creating new family traditions in the process.

Elaborate sleeves that bring an added layer of detail and design to traditional wedding dresses are a major trend. From puffy or embroidered sleeves to structured, embellished or floaty options, letting the sleeves do most of the talking of your bridal ensemble simply screams modern bride.

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HONEYMOON

THE INDIA EXPERIENCE Nine months ago, Taryn and Matias Camilleri De Marco returned from a four-week honeymoon that, for the newlyweds, turned out to be so much more than a relaxing post-wedding trip. Martina Said finds out how they spent their time in marvellous India.

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HONEYMOON

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espite having widely different expectations at the start of their honeymoon planning process, Matias and Taryn Camilleri De Marco never imagined they would enjoy their chosen destination as much as they did. As the newlyweds explain, they travelled with open minds, and absorbed every sight, sound and dish that incredible India, had to offer. The couple met in 2008 through a mutual friend, and after dating for 11 years, they said their ‘I do’s at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Paul in Mdina on 21st September 2019, followed by a stunning, day-long reception at Matias’s family home in Wardija. With the flurry of wedding preparations in the months and weeks before their big day, the couple agreed to reserve honeymoon planning for a quieter time, with the aim of travelling the following January. “Matias and I love to travel and explore the history, architecture, culture and especially the food any place has to offer,” says Taryn, Marketing Manager for the automotive division at her family’s business. “Due to our work commitments and our dogs, Penny and Roscoe, Matias and I never had the luxury to travel for long periods of time, so our honeymoon was the perfect excuse!” Taryn explains that while her husband Matias, who is an architect, was keen to explore Africa or South America, she had her heart set on south east Asia. “We always joked that we were going on separate honeymoons,” she quips. “After lots of research, we finally agreed on India, followed by a week-long stay at the one-of-a-kind Iniala resort in Thailand – which was a perfect place to cool down after three adventurous weeks in India.” Taryn admits that, due to their widely different expectations, they only started making reservations for their honeymoon one month before their departure. “It was only thanks to the invaluable help of our good friend, Joanna Briffa, who has organised incredible trips across India for

“We really wanted to go on a life-changing holiday where we could learn about new cultures, explore, and meet new people.” many years, that we managed to settle on our destinations within two weeks. She helped us put together the perfect itinerary, guided us to the best hotels and made sure we had Raghu, our fantastic guide and a driver wherever necessary.” Due to the challenges for both Taryn and Matias to organise and free up a whole month off work for their honeymoon, the couple was adamant to make the most of their trip, with their dates set for 2nd to 27th January 2020. “We really wanted to go on a life-changing holiday where we could learn about new cultures, explore, and meet new people. India is a sub-continent comparable in size to Europe, so we decided to focus on the north (Delhi, Agra, Rajasthan) and spent a couple of days in Mumbai.” And a life-changing holiday it truly was. Taryn describes the country as “chaotic, beautiful, spiritual, unique, overwhelming and fantastic”. Due to the sheer enormity of the country, they prioritised what they wanted to experience and planned the holiday around their expectations. “India must be looked at as an experience not a destination,” says Taryn. “You will meet people who love it or hate it, depending on what they experienced on their journey. Matias and I travelled there with open minds, and our main priorities were to feel safe while travelling, relax in nice hotels and make the most of the adventure we were going to embark on.”

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HONEYMOON

Upon arriving in India, the newlyweds started off their adventure in the Captial of India – New Delhi. “Here, we spent two days making our way around on a tuk-tuk, taking in the millions of faces, scents, sounds and the beauty of the monuments, temples and mosques, that have witnessed the rise and fall of long-gone empires. New Delhi gives a good introduction of what made India the country it is today!” Taryn explains. “We moved on to Agra, as a trip to India would not be complete without visiting one of the World Wonders – the Taj Mahal. Referred to as the ‘Jewel of Muslim Art in India’ by UNESCO, this majestic marble mausoleum was built by Emperor Shah Jahan solely for his beloved Wife’s tomb. We found ourselves overwhelmed with emotion, gazing at the white façade that shimmers in the sunlight and that boasts flawless symmetry! It was hard to leave.” Following their short stay in Agra, the couple made their way to the ‘Land of the Kings’ – Rajasthan. “Rajasthan, in Northwest India is by far the most vibrant and colourful state in India, offering diverse scenery ranging from lush forest safaris, to the golden sand dunes of the Thar Desert. We started off with a two-day safari in Ranthambore in search of rare Bengal tigers. During the last hour of our safari, we were lucky to see ‘Fateh’, the oldest tiger that lives in the Ranthambore National Park.” After that captivating experience, Matias and Taryn spent the following two weeks exploring the most famous Rajasthani cities that distinguish themselves by colour. They visited Jaipur, known as the Pink City; Udaipur, known as the White City or as some call it, ‘Venice of the East’; the Blue City of Jodphur and ending their Rajasthan adventure in the Jaisalmer Thar Desert – known as the Golden City.

“Rajasthan is an unparalleled destination, rich in culture, heritage and history, making it the perfect introduction to a trip to India. Rajasthan’s royalty and history can be best experienced through its historic elegant palaces, forts, stunning havelis and sacred temples,” she explains. Besides the many stunning sites, Taryn adds that Rajasthan is also famous for its warm and luxurious hospitality and is home to some of the world’s top hotels. In fact, the couple had the opportunity to stay at one of the most romantic hotels around the globe – The Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur. This majestic palace, built in 1743 by Maharana Jagat Singh, floats in the middle of Lake Pichola. “This hotel also served as a backdrop for the famous James Bond film, Octopussy, in 1983!” she explains. “The experience was breath-taking and the service we received was flawless! In general, the standard of hospitality we experienced across our trip was beyond exceptional.” Another highlight for the couple was the Galta Ji Hindu Temple, located just outside Jaipur. Here, they spent an afternoon interacting with hundreds of mischievous monkeys who only obey their keeper, the world famous ‘Monkey Man’. “Matias and I love animals, so it was a great experience for us!” says Taryn. Taryn and Matias moved on to Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, for a couple of days. Mumbai is India’s captivating and ambitious city of dreams. It is also India’s financial district, home to Bollywood, Asia’s largest slums

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and ending our day with a comforting, authentic cup of Chai Tea!” Having planned their honeymoon in record time, Taryn says they were surprised that everything went according to plan – thankfully, they never fell ill, and the weather was also very much on their side. “We were lucky that the COVID-19 pandemic had just started in Asia when we were at the end of our honeymoon. People kept stopping us at the airport to ask why we were wearing masks,” she says. Meanwhile, Taryn and Matias are already planning to revisit the country that left such a profound impression on them once travel resumes, and they hope they’ll be able to experience the country again fully, absorbing its many places of interest. “This trip by far exceeded our expectations,” she says, “and we’ve already started planning another trip there, but this time, we can’t wait to see what the south of India has to offer.”

and a population of 24 million people. “While exploring the heart of the city, you can witness some of the grandest colonial architecture, built under British rule, discover India’s fashion epicentre and feed off the energy this city radiates at any time of the day,” says Taryn. “We had the chance to go on a 5am tour around the Sassoon Dock local fish market and the flower market of Mumbai,” she adds. “We felt like we were at the stock market but for fish and flowers! It was interesting to see how thousands of people work in such an orderly manner in a restricted space.” While in Mumbai, the newlyweds indulged in a stay at the heritage Taj Mahal Palace hotel, based right opposite the Gateway of India, in the Colaba region. “Back in 2008, this hotel was one of the main sites targeted during the Mumbai terror attacks,” she explains. Adding to India’s charm and distinctive offering is its food, and Taryn has a hard time singling out specific gastronomic highlights from their trip – with too many to choose from. “Rajasthani food is unique, colourful, spicy and rich, just like its culture. It is common to find Hindus who will avoid eating meat to avoid hurting other forms of life. Matias and I really loved this outlook and opted to eat a lot of vegetarian dishes over the holiday. We were particularly impressed with the creative ways in which vegetables are cooked across India.” Mumbai, on the other hand, lived up to its fame as a cosmopolitan city, “packed with trendy cafés, restaurants and buzzing street food stalls with a wide variety to tickle anyone’s taste buds. Matias and I love seafood and we must have had the best crab we ever tasted, and even got to try the Bombay fish at Mumbai’s famous seafood restaurant, Trishna,” she recalls. “One thing that we do miss, is starting

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REAL HOME

AN ODE TO MEDITERRANEAN LIVING Having lived in the UK for 15 years, Simon Abela and Andre Schlagowski wanted their second home in Malta to be a quintessential Mediterranean retreat where they could escape the hectic pace of city life in London. Here, they tell Sarah Micallef how they turned a neglected old house in Cospicua into a stylish yet relaxed ode to island living. P H OTO S B Y A L A N C A RV I L L E

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converted corner house set along a narrow alleyway within the historic city of Cospicua is a Mediterranean home away from home for Simon Abela and Andre Schlagowski, who are based between Malta and London. While they’re not sure how old the property is, they estimate it to be over 200 years old. “It must have been hit during World War II, as it has a mishmash of features which show the building was rebuilt at a point,” explains interior architect Simon, reflecting on the state of the house when the couple first purchased it in 2017. Admitting that it wasn’t habitable at the time, he reveals that while it didn’t require much structural intervention, the new owners needed to undertake a complete rewiring and replumbing, as well as install new bathrooms, kitchen, and finishes. “We also added an extra floor on top and a pool, which required additional reinforcement works. We kept all of the original tiling apart

from in the hall, which unfortunately needed to be dug up to pass drainage,” he says. Now, the historic property shines with a new lease on life, hinting at what’s to come right away as one enters from a grand entrance that leads into an enclosed courtyard. “We flipped the house round so that the bedrooms are downstairs, and the living areas are upstairs because we wanted to maximise the daylight,” Simon explains, referring to the two bedrooms downstairs – a main bedroom with an ensuite and a walk-in wardrobe, and a guest bedroom with a separate bathroom. A traditional Maltese staircase leads to a kitchen/dining area upstairs, which openly connects to the living space, while a mezzanine landing takes you up to the roof, where a study and chill-out space leads onto a roof terrace with a plunge-pool. Just above, a remarkable second terrace with exceptional views of the Grand Harbour steals the show. “The main thing that sold it to me

“We tried to keep as much of the traditional as possible while blending in our own touches.” 90

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REAL HOME

when we first saw this house is the unobstructed view of Valletta and the Grand Harbour from the roof ! It actually sold it to me more than it did for Simon, since he’s Maltese,” admits Andre, who is originally from Germany, adding that the view helps give it a holiday feel. When it came to the refurbishment, the couple reveal that the majority of the work was done remotely from London, where they are based, with Malta being their second home. Asked if this was difficult to manage, Simon credits their “phenomenal” turnkey contractor with helping pull things off smoothly. “It was really helpful as he brought the whole team of trades together and cut down on a lot of the chasing. We communicated very well via WhatsApp and over email, and we flew down every month to check on things,” he says. Another aspect that complicated matters is the house’s location, within a very pretty, but very small, alleyway. “They couldn’t set up any cranes, so everything had to be carried in by hand, including the steel beams that were used to reinforce the rooftop pool, as well as furniture and everything else,” Andre adds. Speaking of their vision for the space, Andre maintains that, because their London home is quite modern, they wanted the “complete opposite” for the house in Malta. “We wanted to have a getaway for our escapes from London,” he adds. Apart from that, the house served a very personal purpose for Simon, who grew up in Malta, and wanted it to reflect the essence of the Mediterranean lifestyle

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“We flipped the house round so that the bedrooms are downstairs, and the living areas are upstairs because we wanted to maximise the daylight.”

he remembers as a child. “We wanted a quintessential Mediterranean retreat, but at the same time, for me, it was also about bringing a lot of childhood memories into the house,” he admits, which led him to incorporate items that belonged to both of his grandmothers, as well as pieces of furniture from his mother, into the design. “I wanted the house to embody all my childhood memories of growing up in Malta – from staying at a farmhouse in Gozo to sitting in front of a fan at my grandmother’s house in the hot summer months; the idea of white-washed walls, the mystery of the nooks and crannies where my sister and I would play hide and seek – this house lent a lot of that, and I wanted to bring it back. There’s definitely an element of nostalgia,” he smiles. The refurbishment took nine months to complete, from when building works started in June 2018 to when it was finished between March and April 2019.

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REAL HOME

As an interior architect, Simon’s experience was certainly a factor in seeing it all come to fruition, having created a full set of plans for the contractor to work from, which is helpful when refurbishing a house in general, he reveals, though particularly essential when it’s being done long-distance! “It was then a case of coming down to Malta and choosing items and making sure they were delivered on time; selecting our kitchen, tiles, and just making sure that everything fit within the programme that the builder was working to,” he maintains. Yet while Simon admits that the house embodies what one would consider a vernacular Maltese house – equipped with traditional features like wooden beams, xorok, an internal courtyard and traditional apertures and stone – the way in which the design brought them all together is not perhaps what one would consider traditional. “We painted the ceilings and beams in a dark grey in the kitchen and living room, so we took the traditional Maltese elements and updated them,” says Andre, as Simon smiles, “everyone that comes in and sees them for the first time comments on how ‘different’ they are!” Meanwhile, the couple also veered away from the use of bare Maltese stone throughout. “We kept the traditional stone in two rooms, and the rest of the house is plastered and painted,” Simon explains.

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Another traditional feature that was given a contemporary treatment is the internal courtyard. “The courtyard features a glass top which you can walk over and look down from, and above that is another rooflight made of glass, with a second terrace on top – the idea was that the sunlight can go all the way down through the two layers,” says Andre. “We tried to keep as much of the traditional as possible while blending in our own touches,” Simon adds. The result is what the interior architect describes as a mixture of quintessential Mediterranean with touches of European design. “It’s hard to describe as it’s peppered with pieces that we’ve brought back from our travels, as well as things we’ve bought from England, where we’ve both been living for 15 years. It’s quite an eclectic mix,” he maintains, adding that every piece has its own story. “There are tiles from the Himalayas, different pieces from India and vintage posters from a little village in Germany where I grew up,” Andre continues, trailing off… “even brass pots from the Birgu flea market,” Simon interjects with a smile. But what is it about the house that they like most, I ask? Simon points to the staircase leading up to the roof as one of his favourite spots, explaining, “I love that it is a traditional Maltese staircase, and it’s also got two pieces of furniture which belonged to my grandmother, so they’ve got a lot of good memories. I also love the way the light comes down from the glass rooflight – it just feels different to the rest of the house.”

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Another aspect, he highlights, is “something we discovered as we went along with the refurb – a lot of blocked up windows within the house as we ripped off the existing plaster,” referring to a window on the landing overlooking the living room, another looking into the staircase, and a window through the staircase. “These created a really fun play of light and an element of surprise.” As for Andre, it’s split between two. “I love walking into the house, and into the grand hallway with the big chandelier and Maltese tiles, but obviously, the best part is having a sundowner on the top terrace overlooking the Grand Harbour – that is the pinnacle of all of this for me.” To see more of Simon’s work, visit his Instagram page @simon_abela_designer


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HOME DECOR

EMBRACING

THE FEELING

OF HOME For many, 2020 will be remembered as the year of lockdowns and days spent at home, giving rise to interior trends and predictions for 2021 that give us a newfound appreciation for our very own humble abode. Martina Said singles out the trends you should know about.

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Catesthill.com

01. Japanese meets Nordic style

The functional design approach well known to Scandinavian countries is joining forces with the minimalist Japanese aesthetic, creating what is being referred to as Japandi style. Both known for prioritising function over form, this style is dictated by open and bright spaces, a limited colour palette, and furniture with clean lines.

02. Wicker furniture

ambiente.messefrankfurt.com

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Wicker dĂŠcor brings an undisputed warmth to any home, and its beauty lies in its versatility. No longer limited to big and bulky furniture such as chairs and tables, you could work this trend into your home by way of wicker accents, such as lampshades, hanging chairs, wall mirrors and storage solutions.

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03. Natural materials and textures

Complementing the popularity of wicker is an emphasis on the use of natural materials – a trend which no longer appears to be simply ‘a trend’, but rather a design approach and state of mind that isn’t going anywhere fast. Indoor plants, wood, stone, linen, cotton and other materials that bring us into contact with nature are increasingly sought after for all aspects of the home.

04. Upbeat hues

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While neutral shades and muted colours are unlikely to ever fall out of favour, bursts of bright colour are being endorsed to enhance the mood of a space – yellow touches add warmth, blue bits of furniture contribute a sense of serenity, while deep shades of green add a rich layer to any room.

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05. Personalisation

Much as trends help guide our choices, a concept that’s being popularised for the home is to consciously personalise your spaces, taking your interests and tastes into account. This could mean investing in a piece of art for the living room, creating a niche in your home for reading time, or opting for unique furniture or wallpaper that truly reflects your style.

trendesignbook.com

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VINTAGE WEDDING

IN THE NAME OF LOVE

Veteran actors Mario and Nathalie Micallef, well-known in local theatre and television for their popular drama productions, celebrated their 50th anniversary this year. Here, they share their love story with Rebecca Anastasi.

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heatre and television stalwarts Mario and Nathalie Micallef have been familiar faces for decades, treading the boards in many a local production and sharing the small screen, telling stories of love, ambition and intrigue. And this year, the couple – who got married on 16th August 1970 – celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, with much aplomb. But their first date had not exactly gone according to plan, Mario tells me. “It so happened that both Nathalie and I used to work at the same agency at the time and, although we did not work on the same floor, I used to get glimpses of Nathalie and her sister during our lunch breaks. At one point, I approached their cousin, who incidentally, also worked in my office, and I revealed that I had a soft spot for his cousin – Nathalie’s sister – and wondered whether he could fix us up for a date,” he continues. Nathalie’s cousin, keen to help, obliged. “After about two days he turned up with the good news that his cousin had accepted, and that we were to meet the following day by the Savoy Cinema in Valletta,” Mario recalls. However, in an auspicious twist to the event, Nathalie showed up, instead of her sister. “Although I was lost for words, I didn’t mention anything. We grabbed a quick coffee in Valletta and that was it. When I went back to the office the next

day, I reproached their cousin – my colleague – for the embarrassing mix up. He replied that her sister was already engaged to someone else and he thought Nathalie would be better suited anyway,” Mario laughs. And it seems Nathalie’s cousin was right! The pair started to go steady and, over time, their relationship deepened, even though they were still young and just venturing into adulthood. “Our love grew into something more solid and we both realised that we would like to spend the rest of our lives together,” Mario remembers, adding that, in those days, it was customary to have an official engagement a year before the wedding. And to make things even simpler, he did not have to ask Nathalie’s parents for approval since the families already knew each other well – being very well acquainted “from the neighbourhood” – having lived in Valletta for decades. Preparations for the big day started immediately following the engagement. “We got started a year before the wedding and the logistics were stressful – in that one is always anxious that things will turn out well on the big day – but the stress we felt was not comparable to today’s anxiety levels,” Nathalie says. Sourcing the wedding dress was, however, one of the easier tasks. “Nathalie has a very keen eye for impeccably BLISS 105

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VINTAGE WEDDING

sewn clothes and particularly loves haberdashery,” Mario says, praising his wife’s talent for tailoring. Indeed, Nathalie’s abilities proved instrumental in sourcing the right seamstress – a family member – for the job, which could be a source of great stress in a time when brides would have their gowns created from scratch. “She designed and sewed the dress to fit in with the fashion of the time, in true 1970s style. It had a simple cut but was extremely elegant,” Nathalie says. So it was, that three years after that first (accidental) date, Mario and Nathalie got hitched on 16th August 1970, just a day after Malta’s peak summer public holiday, Santa Marija. Mario was only 22, while Nathalie had just turned 20. “We both wished to get married in summer and the Feast of the Ascension is very dear to Nathalie, so the day after the feast was the ideal day for us to tie the knot,” Mario explains. Moreover, the celebrations were kept close to home, with the wedding ceremony taking place at the Church of St Paul’s Shipwreck, followed by a reception at the Civil Service Centre, also in the capital. That morning, the couple woke up “thrilled and excited”, they recall. “We had an evening wedding, so I spent much of the morning at home,” Mario explains. In the meantime, Nathalie spent the morning getting ready, with her hairdresser and makeup artist ensuring she was picture-perfect. And as is still customary today, the couple’s wedding photographer showed up at both bride and groom’s childhood homes to take pictures for posterity. The couple’s nerves started to get the better of them as they said their vows, surrounded by their closest family and friends. “We both felt overwhelmed. We were suddenly fearful, as the reality of what we had just committed to

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suddenly dawned on us,” Mario says, recalling how young the couple were for such a big step. “We were still very young, and unlike today’s couples, we had little experience of the world. I particularly recall that, as we exchanged our rings, Nathalie sniggered shyly as she could not put my wedding ring on me properly, so I had to arrange it myself,” he laughs. The big day passed by swiftly, with Nathalie and Mario heading to the reception to talk, dance and celebrate until the early hours. “It was a memorable day, like everyone else’s, I’m guessing,” Mario smiles. “We were surrounded by our loved ones, our family and friends, and we were also excited over our first night together!” Over the years, that sense of excitement permeated into their shared experiences, and their friendship continued to grow stronger. But, as Nathalie is at pains to remind me, marriage takes work, and life will never be as smooth as you think it should. “Married life is like a roller coaster ride: it’s thrilling at times, but it has its difficulties too. Yet, we both strongly believe that a complete understanding of the other person’s needs – as well as respect for your partner – are key to overcoming all sorts of obstacles,” she explains. And after 50 years, what advice does the couple have for those tying the knot today? “Well, 50 years ago, life was very different and possibly less stressful and demanding than it is today,” Mario says. “Although this sounds obvious, marriage cannot be based on some whimsical infatuation, but must be built on true and honest love,” he continues. Nathalie agrees, adding that “the couple has to be ready to bow to the other’s needs at times and both have to understand that marriage is not a power struggle. They have to share time together, have fruitful conversations and discuss difficulties as they arise.” Looking ahead, the couple have much to look forward to. “We are both elderly citizens now and, in truth, we want for nothing much. We were blessed with two children – a son and a daughter – and a grandson who is our greatest gift. God willing, we hope to keep on enjoying good health and our family for as long as we can,” Nathalie smiles.


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Bliss Weddings & Homes - Winter 2020/2021  

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