While they wouldn’t call it love at first sight, the story of science and biology teacher Alexia Micallef Gatt and creative director Matthew Spiteri starts back in University, when the pair began working together on student events. “We loved spending time together, and things grew slowly from there,” say the couple, who admit realising early in their relationship that they’d eventually get married.
The proposal came some time later – a romantic yet private affair on Florence’s Ponte Vecchio “after an amazing dinner” – and the pair set about planning their big day. How romantic is that?
“We were both very hands on and made all the decisions together,” they recall, adding that not being tied down by any specific date helped keep stress levels at bay. “Luckily, all our top choices were available on the date we picked,” the newlyweds continue, and having nine months to plan also helped them to be efficient and decisive.
The date chosen was 27th October 2019, with mass celebrated at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Paul followed by a reception at Villa Arrigo. “The church was particularly special to Matt as his father's side of the family is from Mdina,” they explain, while Villa Arrigo was chosen as their reception venue “because we feel their service is impeccable and the food is always a showstopper.”
And while the pair didn’t have any major disagreements throughout the planning process, they agree that one of the biggest sources of stress was their guest list. “We didn't clash but we found it hard to finalise, as you have to make sure that where you draw the line is fair and doesn’t exclude anyone that should be invited,” they say.
As for the decision to engage a wedding planner, the couple admits that using a venue which provides its own catering cuts out a lot of logistical problems, and having a good team of groomsmen to help keep everything running smoothly meant that they didn’t feel the need to enlist a planner. Since the wedding was in late October, they decided on a fall theme, which was mostly reflected in their flower arrangements which “literally transformed the church and venue”. To help set the scene, they enlisted the help of visual artist Andrew Borg Wirth “to make our visions come to life.”
With Alexia’s experience of modelling in bridal shows, the couple wanting something that felt unique for their own big day, describing their vision as “fresh and modern, but still timeless”. Above all, they agree, “we wanted to make the wedding as fun as possible for us and for everyone invited.”
But when the day finally rolled round, the couple faced a little hiccup they describe as “pretty much every couple’s nightmare” – heavy rainfall.
“When I woke up that morning, I remember trying to calm myself as I looked outside and rain clouds were looming. I was sure it was going to rain, and it did,” says Matthew, admitting that he was mostly worried about Alexia and her dress. But the bride was adamant not to let it dampen her spirits. “The heavy rain in the morning was a bit of a concern, but I was determined not to let it ruin the fun! I was also sure I would remain calm and composed throughout the day, but I ended up crying a million times!” she laughs. “I am really not a crier… but I cried so much! I was very happy and overwhelmed with both love and happiness.”
The mass was celebrated by Father Clinton, the rector of the school Alexia teaches in, and Father Samuel Yohannes, a priest from the Dioceses in Ethiopia, which Matthew visits regularly, making the ceremony a personal experience for both. It is also where the couple’s vision for the day began coming to life: “the décor gave the cathedral that extra touch which made it look special, and Alexia's dress, together with the church and decorations came together and fit like a glove. The singing voice of Sandrina echoing in the cathedral also elevated the ceremony.”
The bride glowed in her custom gown by designer Luke Azzopardi, who created the unique look she was after following her experience of many different wedding dresses in her modelling days. “I wanted it to be very me and fresh, but nothing so trendy that I would regret in a few years,” she says, admitting that, having worked with Luke, who is also a personal friend, for years, there was really no other choice! “I knew he understood me as a person, my tastes and style, but that he also understood my body, so I trusted him completely,” she says, describing the gown as “a work of art”.
To complete the look, Alexia had her make-up done by celebrated make-up artist Jennifer Dimech and worked with artist Kane Cali on a custom headpiece which would serve as her crowning glory. “Even though I had never met Kane before, he understood me immediately,” she says.
Meanwhile, “the heavy rainfall right at the moment we arrived at the church was definitely not in our plan, but it was even more special when the mass finished, and the sun was blazing. It lifted everyone up,” the pair share.
And a true celebration followed, once the couple were whizzed off to their reception venue in their beautiful Percius wedding car. The couple shared their first dance to Crystal Fighters’ Plage, interpreted by Red Electrick. “This song means a lot to us and goes back to the beginning of our relationship,” they say, admitting that while it’s not a traditional first dance song, they went for it anyway, and “the way it becomes gradually upbeat made people join in the fun immediately.” And once again, it brought the bride to tears. “Alexia cried so much because this has been our song since day one and has so many memories associated with it.”
Looking back on it all, Alexia pinpoints three distinct parts of the day that she’ll always remember. “Walking down the aisle and seeing all our family and friends, and obviously Matt at the end, I remember literally feeling the love, almost as if it were tangible,” she begins, adding, “changing into my after-party suit and spending some chill time with my girls was also really special, and the fun photo booth pictures with my brother and our cousins.”
Matthew, meanwhile, admits that while “the party was probably the most fun”, it’s impossible to overlook the ceremony as a favourite part “because it was so emotional.” As for his most touching memory, “it was when Alexia walked through the door of the cathedral. She was a sight.”
For the after-party, Alexia wore a white Zara tuxedo style suit with chunky silver sneakers so she could dance the night away. “I literally couldn’t believe it when I saw it in the store the summer before the wedding!” she recalls.
Their wedding has unique from head to toe; they even added a personal touch to their wedding invitations. Having started out as a graphic designer, the groom wanted to put his own spin on the wedding invitations. “I tried to make the invite as simple as possible and bring out the design with the materials and finishing methods,” he says.
Instead of souvenirs, the couple decided to donate money to a project Matthew is overseeing in Bonga, Ethiopia. “The womenofbonga.com project aims to construct and fund the running of a women's skills development centre to help them become more employable and independent. We made arrangements to visit Bonga as the first stop of our honeymoon over Easter, but due to the pandemic, we postponed this to December,” he says.