Have you met someone who hasn’t attended a wedding at Villa Arrigo, especially in recent years? Probably not. Following a series of investments in the stunning 19th century villa, along with a stellar reputation built over many years, this boutique venue has secured its place at the top, where it sits comfortably among the best wedding venues on the island.

But it isn’t just the venue itself that enamours potential clients. A big part of its success is that Veronica Zammit Tabona has been at the helm of its operation ever since she and her sisters purchased the villa over three decades ago. Before it looked as it does today, however, Villa Arrigo was an imposing residential home of the Garcin family.

“Originally called Villa Garcin, the summer home was built in 1887 in the neo-classical style, by Cesare Garcin.” Many generations later, the villa was sold to the Agius family, who were merchants, and in 1986, rented the property to Veronica’s father, Ralph Arrigo, who went on to change the name of the property from Villa Agius to Villa Arrigo. “The family later bought the villa and transformed it into a venue for events and weddings. This was 34 years ago, and it’s still a beautiful venue all these years later.”

Back in the 1980s however, the set-up was rather different. “When we first got started in the industry, I remember the marquee we had was a red and yellow tent with green poles – something you’re likelier to see in a circus than at a wedding!” Veronica laughs. “Set-ups were far less innovative at the time. Years later, we replaced it with a more modern white marquee, with zips on the sides, which was quite original and upmarket back then. As the years went on, we always sought to improve the set-up with more advanced equipment in line with industry standards and demands. Very recently, we implemented more changes to the venue and made it completely soundproof.”

Soundproofing the marquee was a significant investment aimed at keeping Villa Arrigo a step ahead of all competition, while respecting any future sound polution regulation. “We know that there will be changes in the law to this effect, and rather than being forced to implement a costly and sudden change all at once, we started investing in a new set-up at our own pace.”

After more than three decades in business, the villa naturally evolved, and so too have clients’ expectations. “Nowadays, couples pay an incredible amount of attention to detail, especially when compared to weddings of the past. Also, back in the day, weddings were much shorter, and it wasn’t unusual to host two weddings in one day. That would never happen today, as weddings often start in the morning and end late at night,” says Veronica.

“Catering too has evolved – people are far more health conscious than they were in the past, and couples take into consideration guests’ food intolerances and lifestyles, such as those who are vegetarian. In the past, there was a bigger emphasis on pastries too – and people used to eat everything!”

With a capacity to fit up to 1,200 people inside, and up to 600 people in the marquee alone, Villa Arrigo can be adapted to weddings of all sizes. “If you count the gardens, it can even take up to 2,000 people – but being completely weather dependent, the gardens are an added bonus for guests to use rather than the primary focus of the venue,” says Veronica. “The venue alone has everything a couple needs to host their wedding, and we make sure to provide them with everything.”

Synonymous with the venue’s outstanding set-up and service is the in-house catering by Osborne Caterers, which was established in 1978 and has served several distinguished guests over the years, including popes, foreign and Maltese dignitaries, ministers, prime ministers and presidents. The catering company has also made a lasting impression with countless couples as well as their guests, with its innovative delicacies, the quality of the food and the professional presentation.

Among the most popular catering requests are Osborne’s Tavola Toscana, which continues to be immensely sought after, as well as the much-loved shabby chic tea. “This is probably our top-seller, and I don’t think anyone has matched us yet with this offering,” she teases. “The table has an Alice in Wonderland theme – it’s so pretty and has a delicious selection of cakes, savoury items, Prosecco, strawberries and much more. On the beverages side, the gin bar is extremely popular.”

Alan Carville 

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