Choosing a wedding venue is tough. How big should it be? Do you want to organise the ceremony in the garden? Is there a time limit on how long you can stay? There are tonnes of decisions you need to make, and your choice will set the tone for your entire day.
There’s no doubt that many couples want a bit of the X-factor: something unique which will form part of your memories for decades to come. Fortunately, here in Malta, there is no shortage of stunning venues to choose from, each possessing a rich history creating an impressive backdrop to this special day. Many of these fall under the auspices of Heritage Malta, which describes these palaces and forts as possessing “the unique richness of a national identity, the elegance of sophisticated architecture, the breath-taking beauty of widespread views and the glamour of old nobility”.
These sites – such as Fort St Elmo, Fort St Angelo and Vilhena Palace – are testament to “an endurance which has survived wars and withstood the test of time”. Yet, that ‘wow’ factor is only one part of the story – wedding venues must provide comfort to your guests, with accessibility, capacity, seating arrangements and the availability of restrooms being essential considerations. Some of Heritage Malta's venues even offer the option of hosting the wedding ceremony and reception at the same venue, such as Fort St Elmo, which has its very own historical chapel.
Here, we run through a pick of the most memorable.
1. Bighi Esplanade and Gardens, Kalkara
This 19th century building, which served as the Royal Naval Hospital during the First World War, offers spectacular views of Valletta, Fort St Angelo and the Grand Harbour, all of which can be enjoyed from the site’s esplanade and gardens. It boasts an open-plan layout which can cater to 1000 guests in a stand-up reception, or 600 for a seated event.
2. St Angelo Hall, Birgu
Malta’s maritime history comes into full view at St Angelo Hall in Birgu, a building originating from the 1800s, which originally housed the Naval Bakery for the British Navy, and today serves as the Malta Maritime Museum. The hall on offer for couples looking to set sail on the adventure of their lifetime can welcome 250 standing or 150 seated guests, while a terrace on the front of the building overlooks the popular, and picturesque, Birgu Marina.
3. Vilhena Palace Front Courtyard, Mdina
Situated just a few steps from the Main Gate of the silent city of Mdina, this venue whispers glamour. The elegant courtyard – with its elaborate flooring and the intricate limestone walls encasing the space, evocative of the Parisian baroque – can receive 400 standing or 200 seated guests. And, the location of the venue, just as you enter Mdina, also makes for an impressive start to your celebration.
4. Fort St Angelo, Birgu
Renowned as a national historic monument, Fort St Angelo is today, perhaps surprisingly, equipped to cater for a range of occasions thanks to its indoor and outdoor spaces. D’Homedes Bastion, Ferramolino’s Cavalier, Grunenbergh’s Bastion and the Parade Ground can host up to 1200 people for a stand-up occasion, or up to 700 seated guests. Inside, the Admirals’ Hall and Egmont Hall can take approximately 200 standing or 160 seated guests. The Officers’ Lounge and Terraces offer both indoor and outdoor options and can cater for 200 standing or 120 seated guests. However, whether you opt for an open-air space or not, the timelessness and grandeur of the fort will be unforgettable.
5. Fort St Elmo, Valletta
The words ‘Fort St Elmo’ conjure up images of battles, bravery and epic tales of love and loss. It might not, at first glance, seem like an obvious place to welcome your loved ones on your big day, but Heritage Malta has thrown the fort open to couples looking for something a little bit different. The venue boasts several squares and terraces – Piazza D’Armi, Cavalier Piazza, the Upper Museum Areas, the Casemates Area and the West Terrace – which can cater to a staggering 2000 guests in a reception-style event, or up to 800 for a sit-down meal. And, these also boast views of the Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour. Inside, the Conference Hall is more intimate, with space for 120 standing or 90 seated guests.
All Heritage Malta venues are easily accessible, also by wheelchair users. Although there is flexibility, any chosen decorations must be fully reversible due to the historical sensitivity of these venues. Since there is no exclusivity arrangements with any caterers, you can opt to operate with any caterer of your choice. For more information, visit Heritage Malta’s site on www.heritagemalta.org/venues