The Perfect Alternative to Italy

Eager to find an alternative to Italy for couples looking for the ultimate romantic Catholic wedding in the sun, Wedding Planner Rosemarie Meleady visited the Maltese Islands and was pleasantly surprised by what she found!

 

With fantastic scenery, a good climate and an abundance of catholic churches Italy is still the number one choice for Irish couples looking for a destination wedding. However planning a wedding in Italy has its cons: Its vastness can be mind boggling for couples who are not familiar with the country’s regions, there is a language barrier, its bureaucracy and paperwork can be cumbersome and many services are more expensive than Ireland so it is often not the most cost effective, easiest option for Irish couples wishing to marry abroad.

 

So think how happy I was when I recently discovered an equally beautiful Mediterranean destination wedding alternative which has none of the ‘cons’ of Italy – Malta!

 

Malta is an island of only 320 sq km (124 sq miles) located in the heart of the Mediterranean – 53km south of Sicily and 288 km north of North Africa. With year round sun you can be nearly guaranteed a beautiful day for your wedding, while the gentle sea breezes keeps it from being unbearable. Malta’s scenery is dipped in a striking palate of honey coloured stone served against a spectrum of Mediterranean blues viewed through crystal clear waters. It’s sister island Gozo offers a more rural island experience but equally great options as its bigger sibling.

 

Boasting an array of over 365 beautiful Catholic churches (one for everyday of the year) and no residency requirement for civil ceremonies, the Maltese islands are the perfect island locations for a couple looking for a wedding in the sun.

 

For those wanting a church wedding, the priests are very open to welcoming couples from abroad to their parishes and they all speak English so there is not the problem of having to bring your own priest or having to have a translator during your ceremony which can often be the case with Italy. If you would prefer a civil ceremony, officials are only too happy to marry you in an endless number of possible locations – castles, villas, beautiful gardens or historic sites. Practically everyone speaks English and weddings celebrated in Malta are legally binding in most countries which recognise weddings performed abroad.

 

Wherever you go in Malta, the Islands’ scenery and architecture illustrating their 7000 years of history, provides a spectacular backdrop for your wedding. Its main wedding attraction is the fabulous range of venues from magnificent castles, hotels, villas and country farmhouses to choose from for wedding ceremonies, receptions and guest accommodation.

 

Couples are also attracted to Malta as a cost effective option to a fabulous destination wedding. With a decent three course meal in a high rated hotel starting at 25 euro, your guests and pocket will be very happy! Airlines have now regular low cost flights to Valletta (Malta’s capital) making it an accessible option for your family and friends.

 

Hotel Venues

 

The Hilton Oceana and The Westin Dragonara Resort are two of the beautiful 5 star hotel options in the lively Bay area of St Julian’s. While the Hilton excels in the quality of its luxurious rooms with ample terraces and massive sea views, I feel The Westin excelled as a wedding venue option its variety of al fresco wedding options and friendliness of service.

 

Situated on its own peninsula the Westin shares its stunning sea views with the prestigious casino on its grounds. With eight outdoor banqueting venues and eight restaurants which are all very different there is bound to be a reception venue of your dreams amongst them. The Sunken Garden is particularly beautiful as it was the original garden of the villa where the Westin now stands. I particularly liked the Hippy chic Bedouin Bar. It has just the right atmosphere for casual yet elegant wedding celebration with the fantastic background scene of the St. Julian’s peninsula.
Capacity: banquets 70-120.

 

The Sunken Garden are the original villa’s gardens and are still kept in their same original condition. Old paving stones weave their way among the trees, while its sunken position, below street level, adds to its allure and discreetness. Capacity 60 – 100

 

Quadro Restaurant with its sea view verandah offers an intimate reception for 2 – 70 people. It is also the only ‘by the sea’ venue recognised by the Wedding Registry of Malta.

 

The Reef Club Sundeck is modern and stylish and the resort’s main wedding venue, facing the open Mediterranean Sea with a breath-taking view. This area can accommodate up to 2000 guests! However due to the clever design of the area a more conservative guest list of 70 can also be accommodated without being lost.

 

Le Meridian Phoenica

 

Located just outside the capital of Valletta the historic hotel is surrounded by 7 acres of mature gardens which offers both beautiful and romantic settings for civil wedding ceremonies and receptions. The Gazebo is a perfect venue for civil ceremonies or a champagne reception, while the Bastion Pool area, set away from the hotel offers a private poolside reception option which has breathtaking views of the harbour and is backlit by the ancient fortified walls of Valletta. If you would prefer to have your reception indoors, the beautiful 1930′s ballroom offers oodles of romantic charm alternatively the Palm Court Lounge is a large airy venue originally an open-air courtyard that is now covered with a high dome ceiling can seat up to 490 guests.

 

Worlds apart from the main resorts and the capital Valletta, are the Islands’ villages and its smaller sister island Gozo. They are the epitome of Mediterranean life – The soul of the Islands’ past. Yet with their lively festas with fireworks going off practically every night during Easter and the summer season, their unique everyday life is very much part of the Islands’ culture today.

 

While the Maltese islands are small there is a lot to do with markets and shopping areas, a good night life around Valletta and St Julian’s, lots of restaurants amazing historical and beauty spots, you’ll just about fit everything in two weeks. The water is perfect for water sports and I would well recommend trying your hand at scuba diving in one of its many diving centres or a boat trip to the blue lagoon. If you feel you have to fit Italy into your destination wedding, take the three hour boat trip to Sicily, but you’ll be longing to get back to Malta – as I am!

 

For more information contact:

 

The Wedding Planner – 053 94 29679
info@thweddingplanner.ie
www.theweddingplanner.ie