“Robert and I met around 10 years ago, when we both used to model, and we instantly hit it off. We remained friends for many years until, around five years ago, we started dating,” says Nicole, 27. “However, it didn’t last. We were in different places in our lives and weren’t ready to settle down, so we parted ways but still remained good friends.”
Two years later, Nicole and a friend met for a coffee, which led to a bottle of wine, which unexpectedly led them to a club in the middle of the week on the eve of a public holiday. “The last thing I expected was to bump into someone I knew, but Robert was at the same club, and I hadn’t seen him in a few years. That night was the start of our relationship – I’d never guess that I would end up meeting my future husband at a club, and that my future husband would be Robert!”
Merely eight months into the relationship, Robert set a plan in motion which would eventually lead to an unforgettable proposal at Le Jules Verne, the famed fine-dining restaurant on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. He gifted Nicole with a Christmas present – a handbag that contained tickets to watch her favourite band, Coldplay, the following July in Paris.
On the night of the proposal, dressed to the nines for a fancy dinner in Paris, Nicole and Robert arrived outside the Eiffel Tower where they met a security person who escorted them to the restaurant. The couple eventually settled at their table at Le Jules Verne, where they enjoyed what Nicole describes as “the most romantic dinner of my life – the food, the view, the sunset; it was the real Paris experience.”
Just before dessert, Nicole headed to the restroom, and when she returned, Robert got down on one knee in front of a restaurant packed with people. “It took a while for the words to come out – everyone was looking at us and waiting for me to answer – when I said yes, everyone started clapping. It was quite an experience and the ultimate proposal. Robert planned it all so well.”
On their return, the couple set about planning their wedding. They set their sights on 2019, but they reached their first stumbling block when trying to find a date. “We wanted Versatile as our wedding band but they were booked on most of the dates we wanted – their only availability was 20th July 2019, so that became our wedding date.”
Other than the band, they were both set on the venue too: they opted for Villa Bighi in Kalkara due to its stunning views of the Grand Harbour, and because it was a relatively new venue for weddings.
They opted for a white wedding theme, which they committed to all the way. “I even told the florist I didn’t want any greenery in the arrangements, just white! Only the groomsmen and the bridal party weren’t in white – Robert wore a white tux and the groomsmen wore black, while the bridal party wore champagne dresses, which added a shimmering touch to the whole wedding ensemble.”
Nicole adds that both she and Robert were after a luxurious ambiance on their wedding day, but with a ‘less is more’ approach. “For instance, we only had one bar, but it was a large, 360-degree bar set up with nothing more than some flower arrangements for decoration. We didn’t want to use furniture to fill up the space, and this arrangement made quite an impact.”
On the day, Nicole woke up feeling cool and calm, and had ample time to get ready with mass at 5pm at the Parish Church of Burmarrad. The wedding ceremony was celebrated by Nicole’s uncle, Fr Joe Saliba, who she jokes was the only person who couldn’t tell her no. “It was the part I was looking forward to the most, also knowing it’s the most intimate part of the wedding.”
Walking up the aisle, Nicole kept her eyes on Robert, who was beaming at the other end, at the sight of his stunning bride. “I held it together while walking to the altar and made it a point to walk slowly, because I wanted the train of my dress and the veil – both of which were really long – to remain in place,” she laughs. “But I broke down during the vows, and made everyone in church cry too.”
Speaking of a long train, Nicole’s journey to finding her dream dress was quite an unforgettable experience. She was due to travel to New York with her family, and her mother insisted she wait until then to buy her dress, even though she found one in Malta that she absolutely fell in love with.
On the advice of her mother, Nicole booked an appointment at Kleinfeld Bridal, the Manhattan-based bridal salon where the popular series Say Yes to the Dress is filmed. “The place itself is impressive, it’s like a lavish wedding venue! I knew they had dresses by designer Randy Fenoli, the man behind the popular series, so at the back of my mind I knew that Kleinfeld would probably have the dress that I tried on in Malta because it was by the same designer.”
Sure enough, Nicole asked to try it on, and she and her mum agreed that it was the one. “The dress was a perfect mix of what I love and what I knew Robert would too – although I wanted a ball gown, this dress had all the elements of a sexy, fitted dress, but with a big, mermaid bottom, combining both our tastes!” For the after party, Nicole changed into an equally sexy outfit: a custom tutu-style dress designed by her close friend, Drew & Crew.
The newlyweds partied the night away, and although a power cut occurred right as it was warming up, Nicole says they had such a good vibe going that it didn’t make a difference. “Even without sound and light, guests continued singing and dancing, then when the lights came back on, they went wild! The feeling was incredible, and from start to finish, the whole day was a dream come true.”