Before the days of Tinder and following on Instagram, bars and clubs were the standard backdrop for most couples’ first meetings. Lara and William Camilleri were no different when it all began. “It was 2009 and it was on a Wednesday night out in Havana,” Lara smiles, half-embarrassed. “I was with my friends and William was with his, when his friend pulled me aside to introduce us. The rest is history,” she beams. 

While Lara refrains from describing the moment as ‘love at first sight’, “there was definitely something ‘different’ about William. There was an immediate spark,” she remembers fondly. “We got along really well, right from the start.” What followed were nine years of friendship, fun and travel. But even with all those years under their belt, William still managed to construct the elaborate production that was the couple’s proposal.

It happened last year, when Lara and William were putting the final touches on the apartment that would become their marital home. “We were so tired. It was the last day. The workers had just left and the place was a mess,” Lara recalls. Cleaning was the last thing she wanted to do, so when her mother Gladys and sister Janelle called with plans to go to Sliema for some shopping and girl time, Lara leapt at the opportunity. Then, at around 7pm, her phone rang. It was William.

“His voice was urgent and panicked. ‘Lar, I have a problem in the apartment,’ he said. ‘There’s a leak in the toilet, and I don’t know what to do. You have to come’,” Lara recalls. Upon arriving, she realised what was happening. “The apartment was clean. He brought a maid in to clean the place for us in the afternoon, while my mother and sister distracted me. It was all planned. There were candles and rose petals everywhere. He really went out of his way,” she gushes, adding, “he’s not usually a romantic so I was really impressed. I didn’t expect it.”

And with that, a year of intense wedding planning kicked off. “We didn’t want to waste two years planning and I wasn’t very fussy about the date, so we moved quickly,” Lara quips. It also helped that the couple knew what they wanted, especially when it came to venue, food and entertainment. 

“We live in Malta and we have all these beautiful backdrops. I wanted a view,” Lara explains. After some sightseeing, they landed at Villa Bighi. For food, Osborne Caterers were the only choice Lara even considered: “we love their food and we didn’t consider other caterers,” she says. The Big Band Brothers were the cherry on the pristine, almond-flavoured wedding cake. “I wanted a lively and fun wedding. I didn’t want people to sit down at all.” 

When the fateful day finally arrived – June 28th, marking 10 years almost to the day since that first encounter in Paceville – Lara was surprisingly cool. “I consider myself a very stressed person, I get very nervous, but on the day I was rather calm.” It also helped that wedding planner Sarah Young was there to take the reins at that point, and all Lara had to focus on at that point was herself. 

While she may have had her emotions under control during the ceremony at St Edward’s Chapel in Birgu, unlike William and everyone else in attendance, the bride cried her eyes out when her father Roger saw her in her dress for the very first time. Lara wore a beautiful A-line gown with delicate embroidered flowers and long sleeves, which was completed by the talented team at camilleriparismode.

Walking into the reception, Lara was blown away by the results of all their preparations. Her vision for a pristine white wedding had come to life, topped off with gorgeous flowers from Alistair Floral Design. “It was more than I could have expected,” Lara sighs.

Even the nerves she and William had about being the centre of attention flew right out the window when they stepped onto the dancefloor for their first dance. “We’re not dancers; we didn’t do choreography, so we had planned for all our friends to join us after 30 seconds. But that didn’t happen,” she says. “We were just in the moment, me and him, and it was so much fun. We’ll remember it forever.” 

The party went off without a hitch, and the couple danced the night away surrounded by all their friends and family. In the end, the day turned into a most fitting microcosm of their life as a married couple, full of joy, music and love. “I would change nothing about the day. Nothing at all,” Lara concludes. And there is no doubt about that. 

Brian Grech

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