For newlyweds Philippa and Julian Naudi, a carefully planned May wedding turned into a swift June celebration with daily changes until the big day – but what transpired in the end was a beautiful and intimate wedding that the Naudis wouldn’t change for the world.
Philippa, who forms one half of artistic duo The New Victorians with sister Bettina, tells Bliss Magazine how the pandemic literally upended all their wedding plans. “We didn’t deal too well at first, but then decided we’d rather not keep living in limbo and just go for it!”
Before getting into wedding details, the couple shared their first encounter which wasn’t love at first sight, Philippa says. “I was very naive and had friend-zoned him for a couple of years. Then, one summer, after we travelled to the UK together for a festival with a group of friends, it all started snowballing. We clicked, he had a growth spurt, and before you know it – he was confessing his love,” she teases.
Fast forward to June 2019, and Philippa was in for a big surprise. Soon after wrapping up the hugely popular show VII (Sette) at Fort St Elmo, which she directed with her sister, Julian, 23, suggested they go on holiday the day after the show closed, knowing just how much his girlfriend was in need of a break. “It all seemed like a very innocent, obvious thing to do. As it turned out, he had been planning this proposal in Budapest for a while and it was the perfect excuse to get me there without suspecting anything! He proposed at Budapest Castle on 19th June 2019, exactly a year before we made it official on 19th June 2020.”
Of changing wedding dates
Originally, the couple set the date for 17th May 2020, with a reception to be held at Razzett L-Abjad, but “the pandemic stuffed all our plans,” Philippa says. Before settling on their final date, the couple considered moving everything to 1st November, but the prolonged unknown and delaying starting their life together proved too exhausting. “We felt ready to take the step, and understood that at the end of the day, it was never really about the decorations, cake, or a massive dance party. It was about the love between us two, and that could go ahead under these circumstances. So, six weeks before, we headed to the public registry and locked in 19th June as our new date.”
With a new date came a new location for the nuptials and reception – an intimate mass was held at the Bidnija parish church, followed by a gathering at Philippa’s family home in Bidnija. Although her heart was set on the original venue, Philippa still fulfilled her wish of getting married at a venue that she had never performed at, making her childhood home a perfect fit.
“When we first decided on the date, restrictions had only allowed for small groups to gather and we were ready to proceed with a seated dinner with just our immediate families. However, four days before, restrictions lifted, so we could invite our 120 nearest and dearest,” says Philippa. Given the constraints at the time, no other venue was available for them to have their wedding reception, “and so we figured that doing it in a private place would give us flexibility and ownership to go about it as safely as we possibly could.”
With Bidnija chapel merely 300 metres away from her home, and since large gatherings inside the church weren’t possible, the couple chose to be wed in the small, intimate chapel of her hometown, arriving there by horse-drawn carriage.
“The ceremony was lovely – super prayerful, meaningful and overwhelming. My siblings, Bettina and Sam, took care of the music. They were patient enough to learn all the songs we had asked for and sounded heavenly,” she says. “It felt so intimate and emotional. I always expected to be a bride that would laugh through the ceremony, but there were moments where I couldn’t hold back the tears!”
In keeping with the location’s surroundings, Philippa and Julian opted for a farm theme, featuring hay bales, wheelbarrows, barrels, a horse-drawn carriage and fairy lights as décor. “I wanted it to feel like a genuine, homegrown celebration of love, and in that sense, I think it did.”
The stunning dress
Much like many of her other wedding-related decisions, Philippa was swift about choosing her wedding gown – a mermaid dress with lace at the top, tulle at the bottom and illusion mesh fabric on the back, which she picked from Natasha’s. “I had never thought I’d buy a dress like that – I thought I would look too serious and stuffy, and wanted something much more chill and playful. But they convinced me to give it a try and they were super helpful with making slight alterations to make it feel more like me,” she says. “My mother was the only one there to help me that day. We’re both very decisive and don’t really like lingering, so we bought the dress, shoes, veil and headpiece all at once, and sealed the deal in about one hour flat.”
With restrictions being lifted close to their wedding date, the couple had to think on their feet, as the limits of what they could and could not do were constantly changing. “We had planned really cute home-made olive-oil souvenirs in jars, and personally illustrated invites by Michaela Mifsud, for our original May wedding. Unfortunately, neither of these came to pass in the end since restrictions were only lifted four days before. So, we actually invited our guests on Facebook with a good old Facebook event,” laughs Philippa. “We were also wary of giving out souvenirs since everyone was so touch-conscious at the time, so we avoided that altogether. And yes, we now have 400 baby bottles of olive oil in our garage.”
As the couple were planning their June wedding before restrictions were lifted, they organised a seated dinner with their immediate families. Chef Michael Cauchi created a memorable five-course meal tailored to their liking – canapés, grilled calamari, an asparagus and pancetta risotto, lamb shanks and tagliata, followed by a chocolate fondant.
“Never did I expect to be stuffed at my wedding! When the restrictions ended up easing, and we were able to have an after-party, Chef Michael even went on to create some COVID-19-safe party food for our guests, which was super last minute.”
Asked if there were any mishaps on the day, Philippa says she was told after the wedding that, just before she got out of the house to leave on the horse-drawn carriage with her father, the horses did their business right at the entrance of the house, where guests were expected to enter within an hour or so. “My poor cousin, who’d come over to help out with last minute preparations, ended up shovelling poop in the June sunshine, whilst my bridesmaids distracted me and managed to keep it a secret.”
“It was such a relief to finally be there, and to be going ahead in such different circumstances than we’d ever imagined. It was prayerful, intimate and homegrown, and just overwhelmingly emotional,” Philippa shares when tasked with picking her highlight of the day. For couples going through a similar situation with their wedding, she suggests remembering what it’s all about. “Confetti, cake, flowers and friends are all wonderful, but it was never about them. It’s about the love between you both, and nothing will take that from you unless you let it.”
Malta Wedding Films