“We’re both not big believers in love at first sight, but since the day we met, our days apart from each other have been very few,” say Lara Runco, 31, and Carl Grech, 30, who first met at Lara’s cousin’s wedding. That day, Lara was a bridesmaid and Carl was a guest, and, after a few years of dating, it was their turn to take centre stage as bride and groom.
Carl proposed to Lara on the morning of her 30th birthday, and from then on, preparations began in earnest, albeit mostly by their chosen wedding planner, Sarah Young. “We were hardly ever stressed during the process as Sarah took care of everything, and as soon as we had a query, she had it sorted in no time! It was quite an enjoyable experience for us – we just had to point out what our preferences were,” Lara says.
The date was set for 8th December 2018 – exactly four years from the pair’s initial meeting, and their main aim, they reveal, was for the wedding to be fun, both for them and their guests. The first decision the couple made was their venue: the beautiful ballroom at the Phoenicia Hotel in Floriana. “My parents celebrated their wedding at the Phoenicia too – and the ballroom is a beautiful space,” Lara gushes.
The colours chosen for the elegant winter celebration were silver and white, and shone through several aspects of the décor – from Christmas tree ornaments the guests could personalise with well wishes for the couple to the expertly crafted flowers by Floreal and unique bridal party outfits. “The bridesmaids wore elegant ivory tuxedos with a silver camisole, while the groomsmen wore a black tuxedo with black tie” – a choice Lara and Carl describe as “classic and simple.”
While they admit that neither of them had ever really thought about what they wanted their wedding to look like before they started planning it, upon starting out, they “both decided it should be a ball, elegant and fun!” Still, asked if they had any disagreements when it came to pulling it off, the pair chuckle, “well, the bride kept pushing the budget, while the groom struggled to keep it within pre-established limits – we’re a cliché!”
And with all the plans in place, as the big day rolled round, Carl woke up feeling “super excited”, while Lara was, well, a little less than pleased. “I was actually angry because my mother woke me up too early because she was way too excited!” she laughs.
All set and ready to go, they enlisted eCabs to whisk them away to the ceremony, which was held at Santa Caterina d’Italia, where Lara had her first Holy Communion and Confirmation. It was celebrated by Dun Anton D’Amato, who took the time to get to know the couple before the wedding, they enthuse. “He made time for sessions with us before the big day in which we all got to know each other a bit more, making the ceremony very personal. Some of our closest relatives and friends read during the ceremony, and it was all topped up with beautiful music by The New Victorians. It was perfect,” the pair continue.
Lara wore an A-line embellished Jenny Packham gown which she purchased in London. “I wanted something different which was free of lace, and all the dresses I was seeing at first were very similar and full of lace. This dress stood out. It is nothing like I thought I wanted – I usually tend to go for much simpler and more classic styles – however, I believe a wedding dress should stand out, and this dress served that purpose without being a big princess dress or classic lace wedding gown,” she says. The bride’s look was also complemented by stunning make-up by Justin Brincat.
The pair went on to celebrate with their 480 guests, who included friends who came over from all over the world, from Norway to Mexico. And when it was time to open the dancefloor, the newlyweds chose ‘A Te’ by Jovanotti for their first dance: “the lyrics are a beautifully thought declaration of love.”
Meanwhile, the catering was left in the capable hands of the team at Phoenicia, who had a surprise in store: an amazing nine-tier almond cake that made quite the impression – so much so that its sheer size came as a surprise, even for the bride and groom! “It was bigger than we expected,” they laugh.
Reflecting on their special memories of the day, Lara and Carl agree that their expectations certainly became reality – “only it happened too fast” – and they had such a great time with their guests that “we just wish we could rewind and relive it!” In fact, what they wanted most out of their wedding day was simply to create these beautiful moments with the people they love, which is just what they did, adding, “moments such as these are priceless and should be marked and celebrated.”
For Lara, the best part of it all was the ceremony. “I was so happy I couldn’t stop smiling. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much! Having everyone I love in the same place, celebrating with me was everything,” she says, remembering the special moment her brother walked her down the aisle. “No tears were shed – just a big smile. And as soon as I got to the altar, everyone started clapping very unexpectedly! It was a good start.”
Meanwhile, Carl looks back on the exchanging of the vows to be the most touching part of the day, calling it “one of the most important moments of my life to date”, but admits his favourite part of it all was the dancing! “Both Lara and I did not stop dancing for a single second after our first dance,” he smiles.
And finally, looking back, is there anything you’d do differently? Their answer is priceless: “yes, it would be a three day thing!”