BLISS 2022/2023

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2022/2023 EDITION

Since 2006, Bliss has been Malta’s leading weddings and homes magazine. As an annual, Bliss has a shelf life of 12 months and is distributed to couples attending the Cana Wedding Courses and is also available from a select list of bridal and wedding-related outlets in Malta. The publication is also found in leading hairdressers, beauty salons, dental clinics, hospitals, and medical clinics. Bliss is also sold at leading stationers in Malta.


Sarah Muscat Azzopardi


Content House Group, Mallia Buildings, 3, Level 2, Triq in-Negozju, Zone 3, Central Business District

Birkirkara CBD3010 Tel: 2132 0713


Nicholas Cutajar – Design Studio at Content House Ltd


Angie Amato, Martina Bartolo Parnis, Laura Bonnici, Rebecca Camilleri, Jo Caruana, Rebekka Mamo


Elisa von Brockdorff; Tyler Calleja

Jackson; Alan Carville; Focus by Mr V; Andre Gialanze; Sean Mallia; Kris Micallef; Bernard Polidano; Clive Xuereb


Content House Ltd – Tel: 2132 0713


Jessica Spiteri Catania


Lindsey Napier

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.

2022/2023 EDITION





















Stunning mermaid low-backed gown by Millanova. Bodice is embellished with beaded lace that gracefully cascades over the skirt. An underlay of sparkle is present throughout. This guarantees a magical touch, further completed by an enchanting headpiece. Dress exclusively available at WEDDINGBELLS Valletta.


An unorthodox take on a bridal bouquet. Tropical tones of pink and orange mingle with the more traditional roses and orchids, achieving a balance between unexpected and classic, ALISTAIR FLORAL DESIGN LOCATION

Bahia, Corinthia Palace Hotel


Kris Micallef


Sarah Muscat Azzopardi


Raissa, Alfie’s Hair & Beauty


Francesca, Alfie’s Hair & Beauty


Stephanie, Models M


With the world of weddings in full swing after a couple of tricky pandemic years, it’s a joy to see so many couples mark the start of their married life together in style once again. And as usual, we’ve got the very best the industry has to offer in one handy package.

In this issue, we share the stories of four couples who left no stone unturned to make their wedding dreams a reality – from intimate and emotional nuptials to Medieval-inspired celebrations. We also discover how one bride designed her wedding dress from scratch, with no sewing experience! Our honeymooners, meanwhile, share their adventures across Latin America, giving us a serious case of wanderlust.

Our bridal shoot continues to push the boundaries of bridal fashion with veteran model Stephanie Hodgkins looking stunning against the backdrop of the newly designed Bahia restaurant, shot by the brilliant Kris Micallef.

Finally, there’s lots of inspiration for the home too, with the top trends to look out for in 2023 and a look through an elegantly designed apartment in the heart of Sliema.

Enjoy the issue.


Nod to the ‘80s

The 1980s are back in the bridal world, albeit a touch less dramatic than Princess Diana’s iconic, puffy wedding dress. Think dramatic puff sleeves paired with lean silhouettes and rah-rah skirt inspired detailing on the shorter styles..


Bridal suits

If puff and organza aren’t your thing, you’ll be glad to hear of this trend: elegant suits for the bride. This sleek and chic look is perfect for more intimate, daytime nuptials, and is fast growing in popularity among modern brides.


Dubbed the trend to watch in bridal collections for 2023, pearls are set to make waves in the coming months. There are various ways to incorporate them into your wedding look, and if you’re not keen on pearls on your dress, you can have them in your jewellery, and even shoes.




Another offshoot of the 1980s trend in the bridal world is bows – the bigger, the better. From bows adorning wedding veils to dramatic bows atop the dress itself, they’re everywhere in 2023.

3-D florals

Silhouette is king with this trend, with an assortment of 3-D embellishments adding dimensionality to wedding gowns. From skirts full of daisies to necklineframing florals, the 3-D floral look is in.


The favourite neckline this season is giving us major Disney Princess vibes. Off-the-shoulder looks dominated the 2023 runways, and give off a beautiful romantic feel, whether made up of structural sweetheart shapes or elegant transparent fabrics.



An intimate romance

Chanelle and Gilbert Simiana look back on their special summer nuptials with Sarah Muscat Azzopardi, and reveal how their wedding centred on the most important thing of all for them: embarking on the journey of marriage together.

Chanelle, 26, a midwife, and Gilbert Simiana, 29, an engineer, first met in 2010, when their respective best friends started dating. “We didn’t start going out right away,” Chanelle smiles shyly, “but after a few months, we had our first kiss.”

After several happy years together, the young couple got engaged, on Chanelle’s 22nd birthday four years ago. “We always had a really good relationship, but there was a particular point in my life when I was going through a difficult period, and Gilbert was my rock. At that point, I knew that if he had to propose, I would say yes, even though we were still young,” she reveals.

Gilbert planned the proposal as a birthday surprise, telling his would-be bride that he had something special planned for the day. “That morning we went out for breakfast, and then he took me to the Hilton for a massage. I thought that was it, and wasn’t expecting anything else, but after the massage, we went into the ‘relaxation room’, where he had prepared chocolates and prosecco, which I accidentally spilled,” Chanelle laughs, admitting that, being a little clumsy, it was very normal for her.

What was surprising however, was that Gilbert had such a strong reaction to it, she recalls – that is, until it became clear what he had intended to do. “He had been carrying


the ring in the pocket of his robe the entire time! When he gave it to me, he said, ‘this is why I didn’t want you to spill the prosecco!’”

Being young, the pair set their wedding date for a few years later, on 4th June 2022, giving them time to buy a home together and get it ready to move into. While Gilbert took care of much of their home’s project management, Chanelle set about planning the wedding, making sure to make all the important decisions together.

Asked if they were dead set on any details for their wedding beforehand, Gilbert pipes up, “personally, I definitely wanted Chanelle!” On a more serious note, the newlyweds admit, their main idea was having an intimate and romantic theme.

After reviewing several venues around the island, the pair chose the Phoenicia Hotel’s Bastion Pool as their reception venue, with their ceremony being held close by, at Valletta’s Our Lady of Victory Church. “We found out it was the first church built in Valletta, which sealed the deal for us,” they smile, adding that the smaller size suited their intimate theme perfectly. “We wanted to give importance mainly to getting married, rather than anything else.”

“He had been carrying the ring in the pocket of his robe the entire time! When he gave it to me, he said, ‘this is why I didn’t want you to spill the prosecco!’”

On the morning of the big day, Chanelle says she was determined to keep calm, and put the stress of the final days of wedding planning behind her. All was going to plan, until her photographer called to let her know he was unwell, and wasn’t sure he’d be able to make it. “I was very specific about my choice of photographer, as I didn’t want our photos to look staged, so I was quite worried! I used my medical background to give him advice, hoping he would feel better in time for the wedding,” she says, while doing her best to keep calm. To make matters worse, she would also go on to learn that her page boy was unwell too, so it was Gilbert to the rescue!

“We had wanted to do things in the traditional way and not see or speak to each other before the wedding, but when these things happened, I couldn’t take it. I messaged him and he called to help calm me down,” she reveals. And, as luck would have it, all would be well in the end, with both photographer and page boy recovering by that afternoon.

“We wanted to give importance mainly to getting married, rather than anything else.”

Despite the hiccups, Chanelle says she had a lovely time getting ready at the Phoenicia, with her family and bridal team. “I was laughing and keeping my calm,” she smiles, looking back on those special moments, getting their hair beautifully done by Lorraine and Raissa, and makeup by the talented Francesca, all from Alfie’s Hair & Beauty. The emotions would kick in later, as she made her way to the church.

“We wanted to have wedding bells ring, and as soon as I stepped out of the car and heard the bells, I started to cry – I just couldn’t help it,” she admits, “and I kept crying, until the end of the mass!”


On the groom’s end, Gilbert had his own series of unfortunate events leading up to the ceremony. Admitting to waking up with butterflies in his stomach that morning, which would follow him as he finished a few last minute errands, he recalls, “I wasn’t fully concentrating, and ended up forgetting my house key! No one was home, as they were all at the hairdresser or getting other wedding errands done, so I spent the rest of the morning locked out on the porch!” Making the most out of the situation, Gilbert went to get pastizzi and worked on his wedding speech while he waited, and was ready to go by the time the photographer arrived.

Describing the ceremony as intimate and “just what we wanted”, the pair look back fondly on the wedding mass, admitting to both shedding tears as they said their vows, having to share tissues with their guests after forgetting to bring their own.

The bride was a vision in an elegant gown from Ivory & Co – one that, remarkably, she took a single day to find. “Initially I didn’t think it would be so easy to find my dress! I had this idea of what I wanted, but didn’t imagine I’d find it in one day – but that’s what happened. As soon as they showed it to me, even on the hanger, I knew it was ‘it’. When I tried it on, I forgot all the others I had tried and knew it was exactly what I wanted,” Chanelle gushes. “It suited my character perfectly.”

“We had wanted to do things in the traditional way and not see or speak to each other before the wedding, but when these things happened, I couldn’t take it!”
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“Our invitations were quite traditional, consisting of a wood background and lace. Meanwhile, our souvenirs were made by my best friend, who makes homemade peanut butters,” smiles Chanelle, recalling the label they attached to them: “love is sweet, and a little bit nuts!”


“We designed the cake ourselves. It was four-tiered, and included gold leaf, a marble effect and fresh flowers. Each tier was a different flavour,” says Gilbert.

Looking back on their special day, the pair admit that the most emotional part was definitely the ceremony, and for Gilbert, it was watching Chanelle walk towards him, down the aisle, with the church bells ringing in the background. Then, the reception was time to let loose, for the newlyweds to have fun with their friends and families. “Toward the end of the evening we got up on stage with the band, and all of our 400-something guests got onto the dancefloor! We were all singing together, and it was so special, as we felt so connected with everyone,” they gush.

Sharing a word of advice to engaged couples, the pair add, “for us, it’s not to forget that the focus of the wedding should be getting married. Don’t overcomplicate things! On the day, you won’t be stressed about whether a vase is here or there, so focus on the important things. Also don’t drink too much! It goes so fast – you need to soak it all in.

“Toward the end of the evening we got up on stage with the band, and all of our guests got onto the dancefloor! We were all singing together, and it was so special, as we felt so connected with everyone.”


Of classic elegance and old-world charm

From the moment she began planning her wedding to husband Joe Borg, Irené Zarb Adami knew she wanted a traditional celebration that would stand the test of time, all the while filled with love, laughter and plenty of dancing. She tells Martina Bartolo Parnis all about it.

Everythingabout Irené Zarb Adami and Joe Borg’s wedding day has the makings of a classic, time-tested fairy tale, from the bride’s gorgeous Cinderella-inspired look, complete with a beautiful ball gown and white opera gloves, to the choir that sang her favourite opera numbers during the church ceremony at the imposing St Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina.

The couple’s penchant for the traditional has been evident from the start of their relationship. They met on his 30th birthday at Cafe Society in Valletta, and Joe, 35, went on to ask Irené, 30, out on a date shortly after. “Joe is such an interesting person and he struck me straight away. I don’t really know when I knew I wanted to get married, however, after our first trip together, I knew I wanted him to be the person I spend my life with.”

It would be on Joe’s birthday once again that the couple marked yet another special occasion, a few years later. Early that morning, after opening his birthday gift


at home from his fiancée-to-be, Joe got down on one knee and popped the question to a shocked yet elated Irené. “It was simple, intimate and very much Joe’s style. Although we hadn't been together very long, it felt so right. Joe is old fashioned, which I love about him. He even asked my father for permission before proposing!”

Not long after their engagement, Irené began planning their wedding day, with the whole affair taking place in her hometown, Mdina. Along with the input of her mother, they set the date for 18th June, when the Mdina Cathedral is decorated for the ‘Corpus Christi’ celebrations, and which is also the bride’s favourite time of year.

“I was born and raised in Mdina, so I wanted the whole day to be there, at the place where I spent my childhood and where I have the best memories. The Mdina Cathedral was a no-brainer – besides being beautiful and grand, it is my parish and I’ve been attending mass there since I was young. As for the venue, we chose The Vilhena Palace and the Xara Palace Relais & Châteaux, which are beautiful, elegant and in a class of their own,” she explains. “From the get-go, I knew that I wanted a classic wedding, with a timeless look and feel that I’d be able to look back on in 50 years and say it would still work.”

That charming, old-world element permeated every aspect of the couple’s wedding day. Irené chose white calla lilies for her bouquet, as well as white flower arrangements for the church and a gorgeous flower arch for the entrance of the Vilhena Palace. During the mass, a classic choir sang the bride’s favourite music as she entered the church and throughout the service, while a cellist performed Bach’s

“From the get-go, I knew that I wanted a classic wedding, with a timeless look and feel that I’d be able to look back on in 50 years and say it would still work.”

Cello Suite Number One during the offertory, setting a dramatic scene.

“We even kept the theme in mind for the fine fare prepared by Xara Catering, which featured many classic elements, such as delicious canapés and oysters, pasta made in Parmigiano wheels, a baron of beef served with roast potatoes and vegetables, and a variety of traditional desserts, such as bite-sized cassata Sicilana, Eton mess, homemade ice-cream, and coffee served with imqaret, cannoli and lots of almond sweets.”

Irené explains that between her experience as a marketing manager and her mother’s organisation skills, they took it all on themselves to plan the wedding they had both dreamed of. “The staff at the venue were wonderful and took control of the logistics to ensure the day was smooth and perfect, and my nine bridesmaids each played a part in the wedding, so we felt well taken care of,” she says. “Of course, there were many hiccups along the way, but I’m lucky to have a wonderful family and great friends who helped and supported me, especially Joe who encouraged me and really trusted my taste. We both had the same idea of what we wanted our wedding to look like, so the challenges were all part of the fun I suppose!”


On the eve of the big day, Irené says she simply couldn’t sleep with excitement, and ended up cleaning and washing her mother’s kitchen to distract herself. The following morning, a sweet text from her brother, who was also her witness, got her in the mood for what she describes as “game time,” switching her mindset to feeling “ready, calm, confident and up for a great day ahead”.

The bride got ready in her childhood home, and transformed into a modern-day princess with her dramatic wedding dress that featured a fully beaded, sheer and boned bodice made with 16 layers of embroidered lace with a scalloped edge and train. The dress had a low back and small buttons, and a large duchess satin bow, and Irené accessorised her look with sheer ivory opera gloves that upped the drama and classic look she was after.

“I tried on so many dresses, in so many different styles but nothing felt dramatic or statement enough,” she explains. “Finally, I chose this from a picture I had seen and I just knew it would work. My mother is my style icon and she was with me every step of the way. As soon as I put it on, she said ‘finally, the drama we are looking for’.”

The bridal party – which included nine bridesmaids, four flower girls and three page boys dressed to the nines in gorgeous outfits from Monsoon – walked from Irené’s home to the cathedral, where mass was celebrated by Fr John Scicluna, who the couple met through the Ta’ Kana

“The cathedral was glowing with lit candles and full of my favourite Casablanca lilies. It really seemed surreal, and then meeting Joe at the altar made me so happy and at peace.”

course and immediately bonded with. “The ceremony was a dream. Walking into church and seeing family, friends and neighbours was wonderful. The cathedral was glowing with lit candles and full of my favourite Casablanca lilies. It really seemed surreal, and then meeting Joe at the altar made me so happy and at peace.”

After exchanging ‘I dos’, the couple walked out onto the red carpet to a joyous scene, where members of the Tikka Banda dressed in uniform stood at the end of the cathedral parvis and played lively music for the couple and their guests. “The band accompanied us on foot to the reception, and it really started the wedding on a high. It was a fun procession of laughter and dancing.”

The newlyweds shared their first dance to Nancy Cole’s ‘This will be (an everlasting love)’, performed by Ira Losco. “We went to one dance lesson and we had a blast!” Shortly



Irené had an entourage of nine beautiful bridesmaids, who each donned a glittering, full-length, 1920s-inspired beaded dress by Monsoon.


“Food is very important in our family, and every item served was fresh, delicious and memorable. I was lucky to have Group Chef de Cuisine, Kevin Bonello, catering the wedding, who is simply one of the best chefs on the island.”


after, they cut their five-tier cake decorated with lilies under the stone arches, while the air was filled with loud claps, cheers, whistles and endless confetti.

Sharing her favourite moments from the day, Irené says, “most definitely the mass. Even though there were so many people, it felt as though there was just Joe and I in the church. It is one of those treasured moments where time stands still, even if just for a while, and you remember every second of it.”

Irené and Joe, who had the entire hotel to themselves, danced the night away with family and friends, many of

whom slept at the Xara Palace, and continued celebrating the following morning with a sumptuous breakfast at de Mondion.

“I always imagined lots of smiles and laughter, lovely food, dancing and gorgeous clothes in a unique place for my wedding day and, in all honesty, it exceeded my expectations, not only in the way it looked, but also in how it felt. There was a genuine sense of celebration in the air, and the day was nothing short of magical from start to finish.”



Modern-Medieval and magical: AGozomidsummer wedding

Fresh from their wedding in July, Miriana Grima Magro and Jesmar Grima excitedly relive their shared memories of the big day they will cherish for years to come with BLISS

Science and chemistry teacher Miriana and police officer Jesmar tied the knot on 1st July 2022. But their story goes back nearly seven years, when the two started going out after a chance encounter at the fateful feast of Santa Maria on 15th August 2015, in Jesmar’s hometown of Victoria.

Fast-forward three years to a beautiful spring day in March 2018, when Jesmar started cooking something up behind the scenes. Still at university, Miriana had travelled to Florence to present a paper, and returned to find Jesmar waiting for her at the airport.

Feeling tired after her flight, all Miriana wanted was to go home, take a shower and fall asleep – but with other plans in mind, Jesmar suggested that they head to Mdina


– one of their favourite spots. Since he argued that they still needed to eat anyway, Miriana finally gave in, if somewhat reluctantly!

But Jesmar’s behaviour seemed to get even stranger when he started fidgeting and left half his food on his plate (something quite out of character, according to Miriana). When they were done, he aroused further suspicion by insisting that they take a different, longer route back to the car. Yet Miriana, tired as she was, still didn’t realise what was coming at this point.

Then, when they reached the square in front of St Paul’s Cathedral, and with several tourists milling around, Jesmar got down on one knee and popped the question. It was a complete surprise.

“When I understood what was happening, I started panicking and telling him to get up! I felt very shy and selfconscious, knowing that everyone’s eyes were on us,” Miriana laughs.

Remembering his own impatience, Jesmar says, “I didn’t want to get up until she’d given me an answer! So, I kept pressing her and asking, ‘Will you marry me or not?’” Of course, Miriana’s answer was a ‘yes’ in the end, to poor Jesmar’s immense relief.

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He explains that it had been a long time coming, as he was waiting for the moment to feel right and the weather to brighten. Meanwhile, his sister was the only one who knew his intentions as he’d asked for her advice on the ring – and she certainly proved that she could keep a secret!

With the proposal now off Jesmar’s chest, the couple were finally ready to start planning their wedding. The very first thing they agreed on was the date. From a practical standpoint, it made sense for Miriana to get married while on her summer holidays. But the date also carried sentimental significance, as it happened to be the same date her parents got married, too.

Adding yet another reason why this was the perfect date, Jesmar explains, “I liked that it marked the start of the second half of the year, and a new beginning for us.” As Miriana says, from now on, the first of each new month will serve as a romantic reminder of their wedding and of how long they’ve been married.

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“Getting the wedding together may have felt like a headache at the time, but we’d definitely do it all over again, exactly the same way.”



The couple’s much-loved tagline was ever-present across the wedding from the opening line of their celebrant’s sermon to a neon sign that made a striking decoration. It’s a slogan that means a lot to the couple and sums up the essence of their relationship. “It gives us a sense of unity in the face of life’s challenges – a sense of ‘us against the world’,” they say.


As the artisan behind the macramé brand Namra, Miriama was determined to use her talents to make their wedding souvenirs. And so, the couple spent many a night hard at work, producing 200 macramé pieces for their lucky guests. Miriana even gifted her bridesmaids with earrings she crocheted herself.

As for the preparations, it took the couple around two years to plan everything, with the bulk of the planning falling in the last six months.

“Out of all the elements of the wedding, my dress was the only thing I never doubted. I went in with a very specific idea and came out with the same one,” Miriana shares. “I had always wanted a smooth, flowy dress with a corset, but one that would make a statement. I also really loved the medieval look.”

In fact, Miriana chose a well-known local designer to conceive her dress, and requested a style she calls ‘modern-medieval’. To complete the look, she opted for a pair of white-shell cameo earrings, a 3D-printed, gold-leaf headpiece, and a matching armband. She then pulled the whole look together in a stunning blend of intricate, romantic motifs, which all came to life with gorgeous fresh flowers from Flowers by George.


Miriana’s chosen dress designer helped the bride bring her love of medieval style to life. “We added little touches to achieve the look I wanted,” she says, “such as my corseted dress with a flowing skirt, and a gold-leaf headpiece with matching armband. And Jesmar got in on the medieval action too, with his slightly puffed-up sleeves that billowed at the wrists.”

Adding another unique twist, the bride’s shoes were lovely, pink flats. “I didn’t want to wear heels; I wanted to be comfortable. So, to make the shoes extra special, my designer added some lace to match the fabric on my shoulders, and we added a few pink ribbons to the headpiece too.”

Looking back on the final fitting, Miriana says, “seeing my vision come to life was an absolute highlight. I was so emotional I could hardly contain myself. I was crying, my mum was crying –everyone was crying!”

Jesmar, on his part, was adamant about not wearing a bow, tie, or blazer – a fashion choice Miriana initially feared would make him look scruffy. The bride’s dress designer got involved here

“When I understood what was happening, I started panicking and telling him to get up!”

too, and set to work creating an outfit that complemented Miriana’s perfectly – with medieval-inspired, slightly puffedup sleeves that billowed at the wrists. The gold cufflinks designed by George Farrugia from Ta Dbiegi Jewellery also bore the Grima family emblem, adding a personalised touch.

The groomsmen's suits were entrusted to Cefai Formal Wear. Meanwhile, when it came to the bridesmaids' dresses, Miriana decided to take another risk and have each dress in a different colour. Luckily, the mint, pale pink, rust, and gold hues worked together beautifully, once again proving the bride’s judgement right.

Adding a little more to their already full plate, the couple agreed to make the wedding souvenirs by hand. “Miriana is very much an enthusiast of macramé and crochet,” Jesmar smiles proudly. “And I really wanted something that would reflect us,” says Miriana, who shares her inspired creations under the brand name ‘Namra’ on her recently launched Namra_malta Instagram page.

As for the mass – torn as they were between the churches of their respective hometowns – the couple finally went with tradition and settled on the bride’s: the spectacular Xewkija rotunda of St John the Baptist. To compromise, they also had a photo session in front of the Cittadella church following the service, in Jesmar’s native Victoria, Gozo’s capital.

The ceremony remains one of the couple’s main highlights, and was celebrated by Jesmar’s cousin, the young Fr Mario, who the couple can fully relate to because he understands their generation. In a sweet moment, he surprised them by opening the sermon with their chosen motto, which they had designed into a custom neon sign for the event: ‘Jien u int’ (me and you).

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The reception venue, meanwhile, was the beautiful Alba Terrace in Zebbug, which seemed to combine two set-ups in one. Affording sprawling views of Marsalforn, the upper terrace was the perfect spot for the al fresco celebration with food and entertainment. This was followed by the cutting of the cake, the first dance and the after-party in the pool area on the lower level.

As the reception began, the couple felt truly taken care of by their amazing bridesmaids and groomsmen – a closeknit network of siblings, siblings-in-law and best friends with whom they have shared many ups and downs. And even the decor was managed by a loved one ‒ Jesmar’s sister Charlene to be precise. Charlene runs The Setup, and did a beautiful job of making the venue look absolutely stunning.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better team. They were all so hands-on and involved, and just made sure we had the perfect wedding,” Jesmar says, as Miriana adds, “we felt like guests at our own wedding!”

Another special moment was their first dance, for which they chose ‘Hdejja’ by The Travellers and which was sung by Jesmar’s brother-in-law. Wanting to keep things as natural as possible, the couple had not prepared any choreography, so they improvised a few moves on the advice of the videographer from Wedding Motion, who had an idea for a clever shot in mind.

Dancing away under a canopy of hanging lights and flowers, surrounded by their nearest and dearest, was truly magical for Miriana and Jesmar. “It felt like being encapsulated inside a snow globe (without the snow),” Jesmar reminisces happily.

In fact, as they stand on the threshold of the rest of their life together, this is no doubt a moment that the couple will revisit again and again for years to come. As they both conclude, “getting the wedding together may have felt like a headache at the time, but we’d definitely do it all over again, exactly the same way,” they both conclude with a smile.

“I was so emotional I could hardly contain myself. I was crying, my mum was crying – everyone was crying!”


Celebrating love in simplicity

Attention to detail was the name of the game for the elegant nuptials of Cherise and Luke Cosby, who worked together to craft their minimal wedding vision. They share their beautiful journey with Sarah Muscat Azzopardi

Cherise, 28, and Luke Cosby, 29, met when they were still students, some 10 years ago. After graduating in aircraft engineering, they both joined the same company within the aviation industry, but while there was always a mutual attraction, sparks didn’t fly from the beginning. The stars would align for them some years later.

“I noticed her first,” recalls Luke of their initial student days, “and we had common friends, but never properly met.” Then, a few months after they started working together, he finally plucked up the courage to ask her out. “I think I approached him, actually,” Cherise laughs, adding that it was a little tricky, since they were colleagues, and a few people tried to dissuade them from pursuing a relationship. “But we didn’t care! We made it happen,” they smile.

And once they became an item, it was immediately clear that they had something special. “I knew from the beginning of the relationship that she was the woman I wanted to marry,” smiles Luke, as Cherise nods, “same for me! I knew Luke was the one since day one.”

It was some years later, in 2018, that he popped the question, crafting an elaborate plan for an intimate proposal while the couple were on holiday in Ireland. “I wanted to visit Ashford Castle, which was a few hours away from where we were staying, but I wasn’t sure if we could

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make it due to bad weather and the long distance,” explains Cherise. Little did she know that Luke had it all planned out, and had even organised for a photographer to meet them there, to capture the special moment.

“Luke drove for four hours, and right there in front of this gorgeous castle, he dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him, in the most simple and romantic way possible,” she gushes. “I cried so much; I couldn’t help myself!”

After that, the couple bought their first home, and worked together to organise the wedding of their dreams, crafting meticulous spreadsheets and to-do lists to see them through the process. “We really wanted our big day to embody our style and personalities, so we went for a minimal, simple and intimate aesthetic,” they explain, and the fact that they both have “the same exact style” certainly helped.

True to their organised nature, the couple planned everything to the last detail, which would come in handy when the pandemic threatened to derail their plans. “We faced uncertainty during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just a few months before our original wedding date in July 2021, we decided to postpone by a year – which in the end, turned out to be the best decision,” they say.

Their new date was set for 10th June 2022, but one change they couldn’t plan for was a hiccup with their chosen church. “I always wanted to get married in Valletta because of its rich history,” admits Luke, which prompted the couple to choose Ta’ Giezu Church. But, upon informing the church of their new date, they were met with bad news. “We were told that there would be a high possibility that the façade of the church would


be undergoing restoration at that stage, which would have meant scaffolding in front of it,” Luke recalls. Undeterred, the couple sprang into action, managing to book Our Lady of Victory Church, also in Valletta, which worked beautifully with their plans.

Their chosen reception venue, meanwhile, was Villa Arrigo – a choice that was a no-brainer for the couple. “It was the first place we looked at, as we had been to weddings there before and we were never disappointed. It always offered high-quality service and food,” they say, with Luke’s own sister celebrating her wedding there a few years prior.

And while they didn’t opt for a wedding planner in order to enjoy every part of the planning process together, they have nothing but praise for Villa Arrigo’s event manager, who helped provide peace of mind on the big day, along with their trusted bridal team, who they chose with full confidence that they would help them to pull off their vision. “We met everyone several times before the wedding and even made bridal and grooms’ teams booklets with a timeline and all that needed to happen on the day,” they say, leaving nothing to chance.

The result was an intimate, stylish wedding with a refined simplicity that exceeded Cherise and Luke’s expectations. “We knew that we really hit the nail on the head when our guests kept telling us that the wedding was so ‘us’,” they smile.

BLISS 2022/2023 EDITION 54
“We really wanted our big day to embody our style and personalities, so we went for a minimal, simple and intimate aesthetic.”

Ultimately, however, the newlyweds say their main goal for the day was to celebrate their love, together with their family and friends, and, mindful that it can fly by, to enjoy it together, as bride and groom. “And we did! We didn’t leave each other’s sight,” they gush, and this shows through in the photos.

Asked to share their feelings on the morning of the day, the pair admit to both feeling a rush of emotions, as their planning was soon to bear fruit. “You look back on everything that you have been through together and all the hard work you put in will become reality on that same day. I can’t explain how or why, but since the very first day I met Cherise, I knew I wanted to marry her, and this was the chapter I was so looking forward to in our relationship,” says Luke affectionately.

For Cherise, the excitement was mixed with relief –relief that she was feeling better after being struck with sickness in the last few days before the wedding. “It was the only point I felt helpless and frustrated during the process,” she reveals, admitting that she was so sick she couldn’t even

“I felt so blessed that I got to marry my soulmate and the love of my life. I was so happy each minute of the day, and literally couldn’t stop smiling.”

get out of bed just two days before. “My doctor was invited, and I kept thanking him for my recovery all night,” she recalls happily. And that happiness permeated every aspect of the day. “I felt so blessed that I got to marry my soulmate and the love of my life. I was so happy each minute of the day, and literally couldn’t stop smiling.”

The ceremony, celebrated by Father Marcellino, who the pair connected with instantly, and who is still in their lives as their spiritual guide, was intimate and beautiful, attuned to their individuality as a couple. “Father Marcellino made it so special and specific to our relationship. He managed to deliver a touching ceremony that was so relevant to us, and a bit funny too,” they say, recalling a few emotional moments. “Right before the ceremony started, my aunt gave Luke a tear cloth to keep in his pocket in case I needed it, but only Luke ended up using it,” Cherise laughs.

“Walking down the aisle to ‘The Power of Love’ was actually the part I was most looking forward to. I always tear up when I see the bride walking down the aisle because it’s such a special moment for me. I felt so blessed and excited that it was finally my turn,” smiles Cherise, who stunned in a unique gown that has its own story.

“I actually changed my wedding dress,” she reveals, admitting that the first dress she chose, albeit beautiful, was the result of a rushed decision. “The first wedding dress was



Cherise and Luke opted for minimalistic invitations with black envelopes, which matched the welcome sign at their reception. Instead of souvenirs, they made a donation to the LadyBird Foundation – set up to provide joy and relief to terminally, critically or seriously ill children based in Malta.


“I had custom made dresses for the bridesmaids, in satin blush pink with a beaded tulle cape, which they wore with matching beaded headbands,” says Cherise. The small and meaningful bridal team consisted of her sister and cousin, who is also her best friend. “They decided on their own hair and makeup looks as I wanted them to feel comfortable in their own skin, the same as I was.”

“The look I wanted and dreamed about for over a year came to reality that day.”

a gorgeous tulle ball gown, but I knew in my heart it wasn’t the dress for me. I felt pressured to purchase it as the shop owner kept insisting that it could be sold to other brides. For months after that I called the shop frequently, begging to change my dress – but it wasn’t allowed,” Cherise affirms.

Then, when the couple postponed their wedding, the bride-to-be finally decided to reach out to Wedding Bells to try on a dress she had been dreaming about. “My mother was the one who really encouraged me to listen to my heart. Coincidentally, she had the same experience and still regrets not having the dress of her dreams! Luke was also very supportive – he just said ‘do it’, and thank God I did,” she smiles.

The new dress was the Robin dress designed by Milla Nova, a stunning satin creation which, with some alterations, including the addition of a sexy slit, finally helped Cherise feel like herself. “When I tried it on with my gold crown, which was custom made for me by a close friend and designer, I was speechless! I didn’t cry – I was just so happy and grateful,” she admits. “The look I wanted and dreamed about for over a year came to reality that day.”

Selling her first dress online to a bride in the UK, Cherise also opted for another dress by Milla Nova from Wedding Bells for her after-party look, and used cut-outs from her wedding gown to embellish her bouquet. She topped it

all off with her statement headpiece, along with diamond earrings, which were a gift from her husband-to-be. Complementing her look, the floral décor chosen on the day was also in keeping with the wedding theme, comprising white blooms and eucalyptus leaves, which adorned the church benches, bridal party bouquets, groom’s/groomsmen’s buttonholes and even the wedding cake.

Looking back on their special day, the pair are hard pressed to name a favourite part, but both fondly recall the initial moments following the ceremony, where they got to spend some time alone together as newlyweds. “We went for a quick walk around Valletta, just us two, along with our videographer and photographer. It was so special and such fun,” they recall.

Finally, they both agree that “everything turned out how it was meant to be”, and they wouldn’t change a thing. “It was such an amazing and unforgettable experience – we still have wedding blues all the time,” laughs Cherise. Imparting a word of advice for engaged couples, they emphasise, “choosing suppliers that aligned with our values and style made the day incredible”, adding a final thank you to their families and friends for their valuable help. “We feel so blessed that our love brought everyone together to celebrate our wedding day and our future.”

BLISS 2022/2023 EDITION 61
“We feel so blessed that our love brought everyone together to celebrate our wedding day and our future.”


LOCATION: Bahia, Corinthia Palace Hotel



HAIR: Raissa, Alfie’s Hair & Beauty

MAKE-UP: Francesca, Alfie’s Hair & Beauty

MODEL: Stephanie, Models M

Dress: The Francheska gown by Giovanna Alessandro is a glamorously embellished V-neck plunge bodice, completed with sequins and beading. The bodice is met with a ballgown satin skirt with an admirable train, finished with a statement bow, Rosemarie Abela Fashion Studio

Headpiece: A beautiful handmade headpiece and an exquisite example of a masterly handcrafted bridal hair vine, which can be worn in a number of ways. Its light weight makes it the perfect embellishment for any type of hairstyle. For a luscious braid, loose or tight style, this handmade wedding headpiece embellished with Marquis-cut rhinestones will add sparkle and glow, SC Bridal Designs

Dress: The Flora dress by Corizzi features an angelic sweetheart neckline, flowing into a mesh bodice and an organic A-line skirt. It is embellished with 3D embroidery flowers, Rosemarie Abela Fashion Studio

Dress: The Leah dress by Giovanna Alessandro features a sweetheart neckline with traditional embroidery flowing on layers of fine tulle, from the body to the mid-length skirt, Rosemarie Abela Fashion Studio

Headpiece: A beautiful handmade headpiece and an exquisite example of a masterly handcrafted bridal hair vine, which can be worn in a number of ways. Its light weight makes it the perfect embellishment for any type of hairstyle. For a luscious braid, loose or tight style, this handmade wedding headpiece embellished with Marquis cut rhinestones will add both sparkle and glow without any unbecoming effect, SC Bridal Designs


Dress: Simple and classic, this is a full gown with a difference – a short underskirt with a soft flowing light overlay tulle skirt. The bodice is adorned in lace with delicate beading, and features an elegant plunging neckline with lace cap sleeves. The low open back gives it a sexy look while still achieving a very romantic effect, Dianne Josephine Bridal Couture

FloralArrangements: A mix of tall, botanical arrangements comprising warm-toned and striking Chrysanthemums and Anthurium flowers, and softened with airy pampas flowers, Alistair Floral Design


Dress: An A-line dress with sparkle present throughout, this beauty is designed by Millanova. A deep V-neckline and perfectly matching veil complete this look, to make you feel like a real princess on your special day. Dress exclusively available at WEDDINGBELLS Valletta. Jewellery exclusively available at ZSAZSA Valletta

Bouquet: An unorthodox take on a bridal bouquet. Tropical tones of pink and orange mingle with the more traditional roses and orchids, achieving a balance between unexpected and classic, Alistair Floral Design


Dress: Stunning mermaid low-backed gown by Millanova. Bodice is embellished with beaded lace that gracefully cascades over the skirt. An underlay of sparkle is present throughout. This guarantees a magical touch, further completed by an enchanting headpiece. Dress exclusively available at WEDDINGBELLS Valletta.


Dress: An elegant and flattering off-the-shoulder dress in hand beaded French lace by Michela Ferriero, available at Ivory&Co

Headpiece: This silver crystal halo has that gorgeous, romantic and elegant feel. It is hand wired using brilliant sparkling silver crystals and silver-plated jewellery wire onto a metal headband. Adding elegance to any bridal dress, it is perfect for the modern and romantic bride alike, SC Bridal Designs

FloralArrangement: A mix of tall, botanical arrangements comprising warm-toned and striking Chrysanthemums and Anthurium flowers, and softened with airy pampas flowers, Alistair Floral Design


Dress: Finished in a classic wrap silhouette, lovely Lacey is perfect for weddings, christenings, and other celebrations. Her all-over floral embellishment will sparkle under the sun as the gauzy overlay dances in the breeze. She’s finished with a midi-length skirt, allowing room to show off your favourite strappy heels. Worn with floral beaded hardcase clutch bag. Designed with intricate beading, this floral piece is crafted with a hardcase finish to keep all your essentials in one place. Both available at Monsoon, 35, G Calleja Street, Swatar, or direct at




Rosemarie Abela is the mind behind the local Rosemarie Abela Fashion Studio. For the last eight years, she has made a name for herself, creating bespoke gowns and taking the Maltese fashion scene by storm – even winning the Malta Fashion Award for ‘New Upcoming Designer’ back in 2014. In the years since, her studio has become a well-loved, one-stop shop for all things bridal fashion. BLISS finds out more.

Photo: Andre Gialanze. Hair: dColorpallet. Make-up: Tiziana Ronayne

You’ve probably seen Rosemarie Abela’s designs on the covers of local magazines or worn by some of Malta’s resident celebrities (Maxine Attard, Kylie Coleiro and Ira Losco, to name but a few). But where did it all begin for the young fashion designer and owner of Rosemarie Abela Fashion Studio?

“Well, I’ve always had a deep-rooted love for fashion,” explains Rosemarie. “So, I decided to move to Italy at 17 to study at the Polimoda Institute of Fashion. I was there for four years before I eventually decided to return to Malta to continue my journey here.”

What brought Rosemarie back to Malta, you ask? “Love,” she says proudly. The very same love (Adrian) whom she finds herself engaged to today. It seems only fitting then that Rosemarie has chosen to specialise in bridal couture and fashion, offering her services to brides locally and overseas.

When reflecting on her career thus far, she reiterates that, “Italy shaped the designer I am today. It exposed me to people from all over the world and allowed me to really evolve as an artist and collaborator in ways I could have never imagined.”

Her studio origin story is also heart-warming, with her first designs being created with her mother’s literal and emotional support. “My mum moved to Italy to live with me for three months and helped me sew my first few designs. We obviously had the occasional fight, but it was beautiful to be able to share that with her. I’ve always been so grateful for her and my father’s support. I really wouldn’t have made it this far without them.”

Having settled back in Malta, Rosemarie quickly found herself working for the fine tailoring brand Gagliardi, as a junior fashion designer, and eventually moved into the sales and marketing department with their sister company, Bortex.

“Working at Bortex and Gagliardi for as long as I did gave me a strong foundation in the industry and helped me understand the back-end of the fashion world. However, I still had my fashion projects on the side, and always dreamt of taking them further. That’s why I decided to open my studio and pursue design full-time in 2019.”

Fast-forward to today and Rosemarie is one of Malta’s go-to fashion designers, with a business specialising in bridal couture and offering everything from bespoke gowns to off-therack bridesmaid dresses and even Holy Communion pieces. The studio is also the official local reseller of three top global wedding brands.

But what does she love most about running her own studio? My favourite part of the job is seeing something develop from an idea into a finished product,” she shares. I’m lucky that I get to be creative director, designer, and everything in-between, which is very satisfying. The fact that I’m able to connect with so many people on a daily basis and be a part of their beautiful day is also very special to me.”

As for the advice Rosemarie would give brides-to-be embarking on their wedding dress search, she says, “first and foremost, you need to be comfortable. Sometimes people can get carried away thinking about the style of the

“I’ve always had a deeprooted love for fashion.”

dress and disregard the fact that they will need to wear it for six to eight hours (and have fun while doing it). Some fabrics are quite heavy or tricky to manoeuvre, and that’s the last thing you want to think about on your special day.”

This is exactly why Rosemarie emphasises the importance of trying multiple dress styles before settling on something specific. “People usually change their minds about what they want once they experience different options. Ultimately, though, the dress needs to feel like you. Your dress should represent you and your personality, so always go with what makes you feel most authentically you. We’ll handle the rest!”

Rosemarie Abela Fashion Studio offers a wide range of bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, wedding accessories, and more. Schedule an appointment today on 7933 5291.

BLISS 2022/2023 EDITION 76
“Your dress should represent you and your personality. So, always go with what makes you feel most authentically you.”
Photo: Tyler Calleja Jackson Photo: Tyler Calleja Jackson Photo: Andre Gialanze


For anyone who is familiar with the work of Patricia Risiott, architect and one half of Malta-based architecture studio A Collective, which she runs alongside husband Steven, it will likely come as no surprise that her wedding day look was one that reflects the clean lines and minimal aesthetic of her architectural roots. She discusses how it came about with Sarah Muscat Azzopardi.


While she’s the first to admit having no experience with designing clothes or sewing, this bride’s wedding dress was entirely her own design – the culmination of a story with a few twists and turns that Patricia Risiott (known to most as Patty) couldn’t have predicted.

“I have a very clear idea of what I like and what I don’t like, and what fits me well and what doesn’t,” Patty explains, revealing that she often finds it difficult to find clothes she likes. Things were no different when it came to finding a wedding dress, and after doing some initial shopping around for a ready-made gown, she admits, “I found absolutely nothing which I liked! Or rather, nothing which was ‘me’.”

So, what did she have in mind? “I knew I wanted something architectural, as I’m not into overly delicate or floral dresses, and I didn’t want anything too traditional. I knew I wanted something simple yet bold in a way, with interesting lines,” the architect explains, detailing her vision.

“I started looking online and saw things I liked, but it was never exactly what I wanted, so I sat down with my mum, and she suggested we look for fabrics to see if we can have something made.” Being adept at sewing, the pair discussed the potential of Patty’s mum making the bride’s dress

herself. After all, she reveals, her mum had made her own wedding dress when she got married, and had made many outfits for Patty herself when she was younger.

Still, Patty’s intricate design, coupled with a tight timeline of six to eight months to get it done – as well as all the bridesmaids’ and flower girls’ outfits to put together too – led them to go down a different route.

Setting up an appointment at camilleriparismode to look at fabrics and explore the possibilities, Patty continued to hone in on her desired wedding dress. “I was quite obsessed with wanting a pleated skirt, as well as a Greek-style top, and they actually had a ready-made pleated white skirt, which fit perfectly, so I used that as the base. I took along a few sketches of what I wanted, and we started pinning the top together. I knew I wanted it to be backless, and definitely didn’t want a veil, so we came up with these long ‘wings’ that were attached as part of the dress,” she explains.

“As it started taking shape, my mum began to feel as if it would be too much for her to put together, and camilleriparismode agreed to make it for me, as per my sketches. They also assisted in sourcing the right fabrics to use,” Patty recalls happily, reiterating that while she’s not a seamstress,

“I knew I wanted it to be backless, and definitely didn’t want a veil, so we came up with these long ‘wings’ that were attached as part of the dress.”

she was clear about what she wanted as an end result.

But then, disaster struck. “We had a mock-up dress made, and then COVID hit, and everything stopped. I literally had one trial,” she sighs. And as it turned out, the half-made dress would have to wait two more years for its big moment, during which Patty and her husband-to-be postponed their wedding date several times, and welcomed a beautiful baby girl.

“I was sure the dress wouldn’t fit after I had Nina, but I ended up going back to my original size and even a little smaller, so it could be taken in,” Patty smiles, adding that during that time, the seamstress also changed, which despite initially being a worry, turned out to be for the better. “The new seamstress was really on top of things,” the bride reveals, explaining that she really improved on the dress, which had some initial problems that needed fixing.

“When I went to see it in February, a few months before the wedding, I was really disappointed, but a couple of weeks later when I went to see it again it was spot on – exactly what I wanted, including the pleats and the sash around the skirt.”

BLISS 2022/2023 EDITION 80
“It couldn’t have been more ‘me’. I could dance and move around easily, but with a little added ‘oomph’!”


“Patty looked exceptional. Her dress was a perfect reflection of her easy-going character and minimal style. It was beautiful in its simplicity,” says the groom, Patty’s partner in life and work, Steven Risiott. “To be honest, it was pretty much what I expected! Patty is not very good at keeping secrets, and I think she was also a bit fearful of my reaction since it was not a traditional dress, so she did give me a few hints along the way to see how I would react,” he reveals, “which is strange because we are always on the same page when it comes to aesthetics, not just in architecture but on every level, including fashion.”

The next hurdle was the bride’s shoes. True to form, Patty didn’t want to take the traditional route here either. “I didn’t want white or overly bridal shoes. I wanted a clog style with tan leather and a wooden heel,” she explains, yet couldn’t find any she liked. This time though, it was her maid of honour that came to her rescue, sourcing the perfect shoes from a French company.

Patty’s unconventional bridal look was finished off with delicate gold jewellery from a boutique in Sicily, and, looking back on how it all came together, she beams, “it couldn’t have been more ‘me’. I could dance and move around easily, but with a little added ‘oomph’!”

Meanwhile, her mum’s sewing skills were still very much on display on the big day, through the bridesmaids’ tops –all chosen in their individual favourite styles – which they paired with matching pleated skirts to complement the bride’s dress; as well as the adorable flower girls’ outfits.



Redefining fine dining in Gozo for four decades, Ta’ Frenċ has long delighted foodies everywhere. Director Thomas Curmi tells Laura Bonnici why this unique venue – complete with mouth-watering food and an idyllic setting – is the special ingredient for an unforgettable wedding day.


“Itall started with a dream,” recalls Thomas Curmi, looking back at the 40-year history of the awardwinning, much-loved Ta’ Frenċ restaurant in Xaghra, Gozo. As Managing Director alongside Joseph Tabone since 2020, he now plans to turn that dream into a delicious reality for many decades more.

The Ta’ Frenċ story began in 1982, when its original owners, Ino Attard and Lino Cefai, shared a vision to bring a silver service dining experience to Gozo. “They were always fascinated by French cuisine,” he goes on. “Inspired by travel, and with enthusiasm and passion, they created a hidden gem in Ta’ Frenċ; a haven for good food and wine, which has remained so decades later.”

It is a success story only sadly interrupted by the untimely deaths of both founders – yet their legacy lives on in Mr Curmi and Mr Tabone, who shared in their gastronomical journey as well as their ideals. “Over 40 years, we created many memories and good times for couples and their families, and we are committed to making more memories that last. Today, with our Executive Chef Joseph Brincat,

we are continuing the legacy and building on Ta’ Frenċ’s reputation, serving only the very best, in a warm, relaxing and welcoming atmosphere,” affirms Mr Curmi.

Indeed, the Ta’ Frenċ reputation precedes it. Set in an historic, beautifully restored farmhouse overlooking breathtaking views across the Gozo countryside and stunning sunsets over Marsalforn valley and Tas-Salvatur Hill, the restaurant is an oasis away from the hubbub of everyday life. Yet, its unique ambience and character is just one part of the Ta’ Frenċ experience. “We make our clients’ dining experience one to remember, with intimacy, taste and consistency,” he says. “Our seasonal menu, classic flambé and carvery dishes, paired with our vast selection of premium wines, make every experience a celebration.”

While body and mind relax in a scene set with charm and elegance, guests can delve into the delights of the unmissable Ta’ Frenċ menu. “Vibrant flavours and subtle textures combine to please even the most discerning palate in Chef Joseph Brincat’s latest menu, prepared with skill, respect for tradition and using only the finest ingredients.

The Marquee at Ta' FrenĊ
“Our legacy has grown along with our reputation, leaving an impressive mark not only for newlyweds but on each and every guest.”

His exciting foie gras and red prawn creation with a smoked potato mousseline, or his silky pasta dishes such as the rabbit cappelletti, as well as the Grand Marnier soufflé, have all become something of a signature.”

The high standards of service and cuisine at Ta’ Frenċ have even caught the eye of one of the world’s most prestigious restaurant guides: Michelin. Joining the Michelin Guide for the Maltese Islands since 2020, the Ta’ Frenċ team hope they may one day achieve the accolade of Gozo's first Michelin star restaurant.

For weddings too, Ta’ Frenċ offers a captivating alternative for couples looking to create a day as unique as they are. With mouth-watering food and a one-of-a-kind venue, family and friends remember weddings at Ta’ Frenċ with a smile for decades – and even return for their own big day. “With over 40 years of experience in weddings and events, our clients today are second or even third generation families, who are choosing to tie the knot here at our hidden gem,” Mr Curmi reveals. “Our legacy has grown along with our reputation, leaving an impressive mark not only for newlyweds but on each and every guest.”

As a wedding venue, Ta’ Frenċ is also conveniently customisable to suit the vision of each couple for their day, he continues: “With our different private dining venues and award-winning wine cellar, Ta’ Frenċ can become the ideal

backdrop for an intimate wedding or a larger occasion. Whatever the couple’s wish, we can help make it happen. We can host ceremonial weddings followed by a sit-down dining or a stand-up reception – we are flexible from ‘A’ to ‘Z’ and ready to host the wedding of your dreams according to your requirements and budget.”

Having created such a bespoke setting for a couple’s big day, the Ta’ Frenċ signature passion for high-quality, distinctive and delectable food completes the experience for both newlyweds and guests. A wide selection of carvery dishes and cheeses is available on the Ta’ Frenċ wedding menu, with a variety of meat and fish carved or portioned à la minute.

“The quality of the food and service that we offer is of utmost importance for the couple,” confirms Mr Curmi, making a special mention of Food & Beverage Manager Eric Gauci, who helps clients plan their wedding experience, and runs the restaurant's front of house. “In fact, the Ta’ Frenċ kitchen and service brigade have been with us for years, which gives our clients peace of mind as they plan and look forward to their wedding day.”

More information about weddings and dining at Ta’ Frenċ is available at

From left to right: Director Joseph Tabone, Director Thomas Curmi, Executive Chef Joseph Brincat and Food & Beverage Manager Eric Gauci

Mixed bridal parties

Bring on the bridesmen and groomsmaids! Diversity is the name of the game, and it’s about time too, with couples opting for mixed groups to form part of their squad, reflecting their authentic connections, regardless of gender.

Something blue

While green was the colour of choice in 2022, blue and lavender hues are set to take centre stage in bridal parties, emerging as a key wedding colour trend for 2023.

Intimate celebrations

 The smaller weddings of the pandemic seem to have continued to influence couples to opt for more selective guest lists, with curated wedding experiences featuring only your nearest and dearest set to continue into 2023.

 Couples are increasingly looking for ways to make their wedding day personal, and part of that is the entertainment around the wedding. From wedding games and larger musical ensembles to champagne and wine tasting, there’s more going on than ever.

Statement florals

 Larger flower arrangements like flower clouds and arches are replacing smaller arrangements, with couples choosing to cut the clutter in favour of a floral installation that doubles up as a great photo backdrop.


The wedding world is in full swing once again, and the 2023 trends to look forward to are just what the doctor ordered. Sarah Muscat Azzopardi discovers more.
Clarity n Co V
Floral Designs
Alternative entertainment
Wedding Forward

Sustainable souvenirs

Sustainability is gaining traction in the wedding world, and a great way of incorporating it into your big day is by opting for eco-friendly favours, such as seeds, potted plants, edible gifts and charity donations.

Elevated catering

While guest lists are getting smaller, catering spend is getting larger, with more and more couples choosing to give their guests the ultimate food experience. This could be in the form of an elegant sit-down meal or food cooked on show, with a chef hosting the area.

Fruit cakes

You may not think of fruit cake when it comes to your wedding, but this isn’t the fruit cake that comes to mind! Fresh flavours like raspberry and white chocolate, and lemon and prosecco are gaining traction, and they sound delicious!

After-party mini dress

If you plan to hit the dancefloor hardafter your ‘I do’s, you’ll likely want something a little easier to move about in, and wedding dress designers have taken note, offering some beautiful mini options in their 2023 collections.

Unique lighting

Beautiful bespoke lighting featuring candles, fairy lights, lanterns and lowhanging bulbs goes hand in hand with a more intimate celebration, adding a romantic air to a close-knit setting.

Martha Stewart The Market Herald Wedding Forward Eeek Weddings


From the magical Machu Picchu in Peru to the rich biodiversity of Colombia and the colourful towns and cities of Cuba, Daniela Formosa Mangion and Aaron Formosa tell Martina

all about their unforgettable, four-week honeymoon.

Bartolo Parnis

The road to boarding that long-awaited first flight that would mark the start of their month-long honeymoon was bumpy and full of setbacks, but nothing would get in the way of this couple’s South American and Caribbean trip – not even a global pandemic.

For Aaron Formosa and Daniela Formosa Mangion, travel has always been a much-loved activity. It was during a trip to Poland in 2017 that the couple got engaged, when Aaron proposed on ice, while holidaying with friends in the village of Zakopane. And while they had originally planned to tie the knot in April 2020, COVID-19 got in the way, and forced them to postpone their nuptials twice, until they finally exchanged ‘I dos’ on 20th October 2021 at the Lija parish church, followed by a seated reception at Castello dei Baroni in Wardija.

“Our honeymoon was important to us, especially for me, and it was always part of our plans,” says Daniela, a management accounting manager in a local bank, who admits that exploring new countries is one of her passions. “We were eager to visit the destinations we had in mind, which also meant visiting a new continent and, moreover, it was our first time on holiday for a whole month.”

While the couple enjoys short city trips, they tend to prefer rural destinations, as well as meeting locals, exploring a country’s

history and culture, indulging in local cuisine and adding a little adventure to the mix.

“Initially, we were torn between Africa and Central/South America, but in the end, we agreed on visiting the latter. While we love to plan our own trips, we decided to request the services of a travel agency as we had our hands full with wedding preparations, and we wanted to leave for our honeymoon immediately after the wedding,” says Daniela. “Pierina Marston from Royal Travel listened to our interests and expectations, and prepared a super itinerary for us, which included a variety of adventures, but also a few days of relaxation.”

The couple’s original honeymoon plan included visits to Mexico, Colombia and Cuba. Daniela had been longing to visit Mexico and Cuba, “Mexico for its wonderful mangroves, dazzling beaches and ancient ruins, and Cuba to explore the colonial cities, Latin music and culture, and also American classic cars,” she says, adding that her husband, a senior technician by trade, loves restoring and driving classic and vintage cars. “Colombia was suggested to us, and after doing some research, we were so excited to visit.”

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“Words cannot describe the beauty and serenity of [Machu Picchu]. At 2,400 metres above sea level, the feeling of being at this UNESCO World Heritage site and witnessing the historical Inca Citadel was overwhelming.”

Just like their wedding, the couple’s honeymoon was postponed twice. With all the organisation surrounding their new wedding dates, Daniela says that re-planning the honeymoon as well would have been too much for them to handle, “so using the service of a travel agency was a good decision as they took care of liaising with all suppliers to change the dates, not only once, but twice,” she explains. “For the third attempt, the flights were booked very close to the wedding dates given the uncertainty during that period. In fact, two weeks before our departure date, we dropped Mexico due to travel restrictions and added Peru to the itinerary.”

It would be third time lucky for Aaron and Daniela, who finally boarded a flight on 9th November 2021 to kick off their long-awaited trip, starting with Peru, where they stayed in the city of Cusco. “Our adventure began immediately – we departed for the Sacred Valley and visited the Huaypoo Lagoon and Maras using a quad bike. During this excursion, our guide prepared a special treat for us as honeymooners, a surprise picnic with fruit, cheeses and a typical Peruvian wine. It was a perfect spot, beautiful and tranquil, where we spent hours admiring one of the many spectacular views we saw in Peru.”

Being in the land of Incas, Daniela says a visit to one of the World Wonders was a must. “Machu Picchu was always on my bucket list, but I never thought I would get to see it on my honeymoon. Words cannot describe the beauty and serenity of the place. At 2,400 metres above sea level, the feeling of being at this UNESCO World Heritage site and witnessing the historical Inca Citadel was overwhelming and a memory we would gladly re-live!”

The couple included a short city tour of Lima, the capital and Peru’s largest city, where they walked through busy streets and sampled traditional Peruvian cuisine. “Although Peru was a last-minute decision and our shortest stay, we have no regrets, and only wished we had more time to explore more of it.”

The next stop was Colombia, which Daniela and Aaron explored for two weeks, exceeding all their expectations.

Their time here was marked by stunning views and exceptional interactions with nature, including a visit to Cocora Valley, famous for its towering wax palm trees, endless greenery and fresh air.

“A must-visit in Colombia is one of their coffee plantations. I don’t drink coffee, but I was interested to learn about the process and couldn’t resist a taste. We walked through the huge plantation and helped pick the coffee beans,” says Daniela. “During our two-night stay in Medellin, one of the largest cities in the country, we experienced another unforgettable day-trip to La Piedra del Penol, also known as the Big Rock, which required climbing 740 steps to get to the top. Once you get there, it’s 360 degrees of unlimited greenery, lake, mountains, little islands and country houses – simply breath-taking!”

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“[Colombia] is underrated with the Maltese community, but we would recommend it to other honeymooners as it has so much to offer and is a super destination for nature lovers.”

The couple continued their way to Tayrona National Park, a protected Caribbean region within the city of Santa Marta, which is home to stunning beaches, forest trails and a rich biodiversity. Aaron and Daniela hiked their way through nature to take a dip at one of the magnificent beaches along the sparkling coast, while drinking from coconuts that were freshly picked from the palm trees.

“Colombia is vibrant and colourful, and this is clearly visible in the walled city of Cartagena, referred to as Cartagena de Indias, known for its energy and street performers, but also its history, music and art,” Daniela explains. The couple ended their time in Colombia with some thrills in the adventure capital of San Gil – they tried white water rafting, abseiling, zip-lining, caving, paragliding and a giant swing that offers incomparable views of the town’s landscapes. All in all, Colombia was a hit with the couple, who believe “this country is underrated with the Maltese community, but we would recommend it to other honeymooners as it has so much to offer and is a super destination for nature lovers.”

For the last leg of their month-long honeymoon, Daniela and Aaron visited Cuba, starting with a stay in Havana, which included a classic American car tour – a must-do for Aaron – as well as exploring the sites and streets of this colourful capital city, with plenty of architecture, plazas and remarkable monuments, including the popular Capitolio Nacional de Cuba and Gran Teatro de La Habana.

Daniela says she had been wanting to visit Havana for some time, but admits that it was a reality check for her as, while one part of the city boasts beautiful buildings that are impressive and well maintained, the other is filled with ramshackle buildings on the verge of collapse that house large and often multiple families, exposing the couple to a level of poverty that they did not expect to see.

For the rest of their trip in Cuba, the newlyweds enjoyed a scenic road trip that started via the tobacco route, a stretch

of road that’s lined with tobacco farms, onto Pinar del Rio to arrive at the village of Vinales. “Here, we learned all about the process of the making of famous Cuban cigars and witnessed plenty of tobacco plantations.” For lodging, they opted for a casa particular, which is the residential home of a local family that’s offered as a bed and breakfast.

The honeymooners visited Cienfuegos, a port town characterised by French colonial architecture, known as the ‘pearl of the south’, as well as the town of Trinidad that boasts UNESCO World Heritage status. “We spent three days here, during which time we visited Parque Guanayara, where we hiked along a trail that leads to a beautiful waterfall, and also had a refreshing swim in a natural lagoon.”

Over the next few days, Daniela and Aaron were transported back in time as they drove through remote villages, often without internet access and where animaldrawn carts are still used for transport, until they arrived at the famous beach resort town of Varadero that sits along a stretch of sparkling Atlantic Ocean coastline. “We spent the last two nights at an all-inclusive five-star resort, sipping on mojitos while lounging on this incredible beach of fine, white sand and crystal-clear waters.”

Four weeks and 16 flights later, Daniela and Aaron returned to Malta with enough new memories to last a lifetime. While travelling during a pandemic certainly wasn’t what they had in mind, it was all made possible by Pierina at Royal Travel, and the couple made the most of every place they visited while exercising caution. “Thankfully, we never fell ill, as this was one of our worries. But we were well prepared – as expected, we wore masks most of the time and completed loads of health forms before entering a new country,” says Daniela. “Overall, it was a memorable honeymoon that left us wanting to revisit South America to explore other countries – and perhaps return to Peru to discover more fascinating sites, towns and attractions.”

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A contemporary emphasis on light and space, exquisitely coupled with old-world elegance and character, is what greets you the moment you enter Ariadne Massa’s tastefully converted apartment, housed within a historic block overlooking a prominent square in Sliema. She takes Sarah Muscat Azzopardi through the story of its recent conversion.


“This whole block took a direct hit during the war, so it was re-built right after, in 1947.”



expert Ariadne Massa’s love of entertaining, reading, food and wine are all beautifully represented in the unique design and layout of her Sliema apartment which, despite incorporating all the comforts of modern living (and then some), marry synonymously with the building’s notable history.

“This whole block took a direct hit during the war, so it was re-built right after, in 1947,” Ariadne begins, emphasising specific features within the style of the property that reflect this, including high ceilings and period features like coving and columns.

One of the biggest attractions of the place, however, was its layout, and its well-sized, mature garden which is a rarity in similar spaces, particularly in the area. Detailing her thoughts when she first came across it, Ariadne reveals, “when I was looking for a property, a lot of them could have been ‘copy and paste’. The plans and layouts were

“I wanted to achieve a happy space, to make the most of the light, and respect the character of the building.”

very similar, so when I came here, the garden and the layout were a major deciding factor.”

Another rare asset of the apartment, in fact, is an internal courtyard, which brings in a lot of light, despite its position on the ground floor.

Showcasing the garden in the best way, however, necessitated a major decision: flipping the format of the property entirely. Describing what went into this, Ariadne explains that the area which now houses the apartment’s stunning living space was originally made up of three bedrooms, with the original kitchen and living room located at the front of the apartment, where the bedrooms are now housed.

Looking back on that state of the apartment when she first purchased it, Ariadne is quick to admit that it was in a relatively good condition, and “if I hadn’t come up with the mad idea to turn everything around, it was actually liveable, though obviously not to modern standards, as it still had all the old wiring and plumbing which needed to be


modernised. It also had a rising damp issue, so there were some extra costs in dealing with that.”

Detailing what she wanted out of the conversion –apart from modernising and altering the layout – she says, “I wanted to achieve a happy space, to make the most of the light, and respect the character of the building. I love to read, and wanted to create these little corners –including in the garden – where I could curl up with a good book or just enjoy the atmosphere.”

In the open-plan kitchen and living area, she continues, the main scope was entertainment, and everything revolves around that, including the layout of the kitchen, from which she can easily socialise with guests. It’s also the space that brings together her love for books and wine, featuring a handsome library area and bar counter overlooking a plush seating area.

Behind a door subtly hidden within wall panelling towards the front of the apartment, the main bedroom suite features elegant built-in wardrobes and a glass-walled ensuite, framed around a show-stopping desk, which also doubles up as a headboard. The fireplace in this room is

original to the building, clad in travertine while leaving little ‘peek-a-boo’ sections which showcase the old fleurde-lys tiles.

Both bedrooms are self-contained, each having its own bathroom and workspace, in keeping with Ariadne’s wish for comfort and convenience, but it is the second, smaller bedroom that’s her favourite, featuring a bespoke wooden platform that incorporates a king-sized bed, desk and shelving area. “The second bedroom makes you feel so safe and protected. We’ve nicknamed it ‘the cave’,” she says.

As a whole, the apartment makes for an inspiring mix of authentic elegance and minimal style – with a couple of exceptions in keeping with Ariadne’s personality, she jokes. “I guess you can’t really call yellow or pink bathrooms minimal! I really wanted to put myself into it.”

The project took three years to complete, and as ever, didn’t come without its challenges – including COVIDrelated delays – but each challenge was steadfastly overcome thanks to a team of passionate individuals that Ariadne is immensely grateful to.

“What I love about the architects is that they really respect the spirit of the place while optimising space at the same time.”

Among these are Valentino Architects, who were instrumental in making the new layout work. “They were ingenious in creating a plan for the space, taking a bit of the courtyard to create room for the second bedroom in the spot where the former kitchen used to be. It had never even crossed my mind to do that,” Ariadne smiles. “What I love about the architects is that they really respect the spirit of the place while optimising space at the same time,” she says, adding that Peter Valentino also helped with some of the choices of colour and finish. “I wanted every room to make a statement, and he helped me to balance my madness!”

She also makes a special mention of project manager Annaliese Mizzi, who Ariadne describes as “invaluable”, asserting that, “I find it difficult to trust that people will do things how I’d like them to be done, and Annaliese knew exactly what I wanted and made sure that it was delivered.”

“I’ve been really lucky to have worked with people on whom my passion for this project really rubbed off,” she smiles, adding that she loved celebrating the completion of different stages of it with those involved, like Annaliese, the turnkey contractor, and the carpenter, who was responsible for the custom furniture. “Each person took pride in what they did, and they shared in the excitement. It’s rare to find, and that’s what really makes it special.”

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Our homes are not only our sanctuary, but also an excellent canvas to express ourselves, and 2023’s upcoming interior decor trends are a surefire reflection of that. From historic features made contemporary to the hottest colours and shapes of the year, Sarah Muscat Azzopardi delivers a fun forecast that is sure to inspire.

01. Arches

An element dating back to the Renaissance – and still prevalent in many of the Maltese Islands’ historic homes –arches are making a comeback in the interior design world. Applied to both architecture, furniture and decorative elements, curves are everywhere, though the inclusion of alcoves and niches into contemporary builds is where the trend really comes into its own.

02. Feature walls

Hear us out on this one – this isn’t the colour block feature wall you’re used to! A major interiors trend in 2023 looks to come from the need to create ‘Instagrammable’ spaces in one’s home, and a perfect statement wall does just that! Think murals and showstopping wallpaper for this one.

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Kockum Design
The NordRoom

03. Natural calm

Organic and cosy materials emphasise the natural trend in interiors next year, with a focus on wellness through gentle colours and textures turning your home into a sanctuary. Borrowing from the outdoors, natural and tactile materials like wool, cotton, clay, velvet, and ceramics are key elements to create a soothing organic environment.

04. Neon decor

In contrast with the natural trend, there’s room for some fun in 2023’s top interiors too, with bright neon colours and elements making their way into interior design. Lending a cool, underground aesthetic, this is a trend that’s been making waves in the wedding world in recent years, so it was only a matter of time before it found its way into the home!

forecast, and this has got to be one of our favourites. The 1970s revival is bringing with it the whimsy of the decade, none of which sweeter than funghi decor, applied in both bulbous shapes and prints.

Pantone’s colour of the year always deserves a mention, and will certainly make its mark in interior decor in 2023. This gentle pastel will bring freshness to interiors in 2023, and is tipped to be a star colour, owing to its versatility. Lavender works equally well paired with muted neutral tones or juxtaposed with maximalist design elements and bold colours.

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4 Authentic interior 6 Home & Garden Real Homes 5 Crate & Barrel 06. Lavender


At over 80 years old and with six decades of marriage under their belts, Paulina and Laurence Sciberras have much to share about their wonderful life together. Here, they take a trip down memory lane with BLISS, to reminisce about their wedding in 1961, and the fated early days that made it all possible.

Somepeople just make an instant impression – and what could be better than hearing their time-honoured love story?

Laurence, known to family and friends as Wenzu or Lorry, instantly proves to be quite a character – a well-read gentleman with a sense of humour that keeps him young at heart. Paulina, on her part, immediately comes across as an absolute sweetheart, earning her the apt title of ‘il-Helwa’ (the sweetie), as Laurence fondly calls and refers to her.

The couple’s story dates back to 1958, when Laurence was 23 and Paulina just 20 years old. Paulina used to visit her aunt and uncle who lived next to the local band club that Laurence frequented after work to play billiards with friends. “I used to watch him go by,” Paulina admits, implying that she was well aware of her future husband

even before they officially met. It quickly became evident that the interest was mutual.

One fine day after Paulina had paid her customary visit – and just as she was walking to the bus stop to start her journey back home – Laurence caught up with her and asked if he could accompany her. In surprise she asked if he would be joining her on the bus, but Laurence suggested that they walk instead. The two hit it off right away and started going out together the very next day.

“When it came to settling down, Paulina was ready to take the next step sooner than I was, which made sense given that girls mature faster than boys,” Laurence smiles. “She came from a good family and was always very conservative, serious, and religious. She never even let me steal a kiss!” Laurence laments, as Paulina nods, giggling.


parents – alone time was not so easy for the unwed couple to come by.

Nevertheless, the two did enjoy their fair share of romance on regular strolls through the Tal-Karmnu area of Fgura. At the time, the place was still mostly made up of fields and was a popular hangout for the local lovers who would amble back and forth in an attempt to prolong their stolen quality time.

But a sad turn of events for Paulina and Laurence was the passing of Paulina’s much-loved father, one year into their courtship. As a sign of respect, Laurence and Paulina held off on planning a wedding, eventually deciding to get married two years later.

As Laurence recalls, “Paulina’s father was such a good man, and I remember him telling me, ‘Do take care of her for me – she has never been in a relationship before.’ And with that, I felt that he had bound me.” This was clearly a commitment that Laurence took very seriously and follows through on even now.

When it finally came time for the two to make a move, Paulina says there was no formal proposal from Laurence. “Things just seemed to move along naturally and we both knew we were ready to get married.”

The weddings of the day were simple enough for all the planning to go smoothly and without a hitch.

With an impressive memory, Laurence reels off the various logistical details he and Paulina took care of as though they’d just got married yesterday: date set for

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“There was no proposal – things just seemed to move along naturally and we both knew we were ready to get married.”

Saturday 8th April 1961 in the afternoon, rings purchased in Valletta for Lm4 (€10), Paola church booked, Tarxien band club rented for reception at Lm8 (€20). Sorted!

As for the dress, Paulina explains that local weddings didn’t follow any particular fashion trends back then. However, she always loved dressing well and enjoyed getting her gown designed with the help of the family seamstress. Left to her own devices, she just had one directive from Laurence: not to overdo it with big skirts and fancy hats!

Luckily, Paulina’s preference for classic simplicity was very much in harmony with his. The outcome was a highly admired narrow dress with a touch of feminine lace on the front. Paulina also excitedly remembers the gold and lilac two-piece suit she wore for her going-away outfit, which conveniently shielded her from the April showers that marked the end of their big day.

Speaking of which, when asked about the highlight of their day, without hesitation and with a cheeky glint in his eye, Laurence promptly offers, “when we finally got home of course!” An unexpected response that is met

with hearty laughter from all in the room, including the couple’s daughter and granddaughter – well-known lawyer and recipient of Queen’s Young Leader Award, Martina Caruana! Paulina adds that, when alone at last, Laurence made her a warm mug of Ovaltine to soothe her nerves.

More than 60 years on, the couple’s mutual devotion is as strong as ever and clearly a key ingredient in their marriage – a marriage that has led to three daughters, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren (with another one on the way!). Both attribute their marital success to patience and a willingness to compromise – but just as inspiring is the evident joy they continue to share in each other’s company.

“Regardless of our differences, all I know is that we have been together for almost 65 years,” Laurence asserts, with a final smile. Affection, optimism and a zest for life have undeniably made this couple’s marriage well worth the battle.

“Before he died, I remember Paulina’s father telling me to take care of her. And with that, I felt he had bound me.”
“She came from a good family and was always very conservative. She never even let me steal a kiss!”