29th March 2019
A beautiful bucolic day in autumn – Graziella & Dex
Graziella Cortis and Dex Carlos Zahra tied the knot in a very special location
Graziella Cortis and Dex Carlos Zahra were born on the same day, the 29th of June 1987, in the same hospital. But they didn’t need to wait too long to meet: at the tender age of 13, they got to know each other through common friends, and decided to start dating when they turned 17. They always knew, however, that they would, one day, walk up the aisle. “We always knew that marriage was on the table but between studies, work and establishing our home, we never got around to actually planning the big day,” Graziella remembers.
Indeed, it wasn’t until 2018 – just one year ago, and after 12 years of dating – that the couple firmly decided to take the big step. “Coming up to our lucky birthday, we decided to go on an unforgettable road trip to Iceland and, as part of the trip, we decided to engage a photographer to take some casual photos of us, since we wanted to do something special,” Graziella continues. The photoshoot – taking place on the rain-swept, dramatic Búðir landscape – couldn’t have gone any better. “Dex unexpectedly proposed! Having planned most of the trip and photoshoot myself, I always joke that I did all the planning and Dex simply found the right spot for the magical moment. Nevertheless, it was perfect, and I couldn’t have been happier.”
Back home in Malta, Graziella, an event planner by profession, threw herself into preparations. “I’ve studied and worked in Scotland and locally on a number of events, but this was definitely the most precious – and heart-felt – event to plan,” she says. While Graziella took care of most of the logistics and bookings, Dex was heavily involved in all aspects of the process, and together with family and friends, the couple created a day they would never forget. “We always wanted our wedding to represent us and every detail was important to deliver the vision,” the bride continues.
Selecting the wedding dress was the first order of service. “I felt the dress would help shape many elements of wedding planning so dress shopping was on the top of my list,” Graziella smiles. She thought she might go for a modern look, but, after trawling the shops, she eventually settled on a traditional design: an a-line Pronovias dress with a cathedral length veil. “I also purchased a custom-made crown and matching hair pins for my bridesmaids which I got all the way from New Zealand. It was my guilty splurge that completed my look” she describes.
The venue of their reception – the Mnarja Tent at Buskett Woodlands – was also one of the most important elements. However, the space is habitually used as a car park, so she knew convincing Dex might be a challenge. “I always saw the potential of the Mnarja tent as being the perfect place where to host our wedding, but the trick was to sell the idea to Dex. It was, surprisingly, very easy and he was on board from the get-go! It was very emotional for me to see him support the vision I had for the location,” she recalls.
The theme of the wedding – which Graziella calls a ‘natural wonderland’ – made the most of the setting by embellishing the venue and ensuring the bucolic feel of the proceedings. “We managed to do this by incorporating numerous natural elements such as olive trees, fresh flowers, and the right amount of lighting,” she explains.
And, since Dex works in the marble industry, the couple decided to feature backdrops made from the material in their set-up. “The band backdrop, for example, consisted of three slabs of backlit onyx. We also had custom-made coffee tables and serving trays made out of marble. Most items took hours to create, days to install and minutes to dismantle when all was over,” she laughs. Even the souvenirs had a personal touch. “We gave out custom marble coasters as souvenirs, and these were made by Dex’s marble family business,” the bride explains.
Moreover, it was important for the bride to incorporate some elements of her familial heritage into the couple’s big day. “My family owns vineyards and it was important for me to incorporate such a factor in our special day, so, to do this, we took photos after the ceremony at my dad’s fields. At the reception, we also had a self-service wine bar which became very popular with guests,” she describes.
In this way, the design of the day was filled with personalised elements, fulfilling the couple’s vision for their wedding. “I would say that our wedding was very detail oriented but when all put together it fit and seemed simple, as it was meant to be. The only factor that was beyond our control was the weather, even though we did have a plan B. But, we were lucky to have a beautiful, dry day, in one of the rainiest Octobers in years,” she says.
The day itself was filled with special moments, as the couple said their ‘I do’s’ in front of 320 guests at the church of Santa Marija ta' Ġieżu, Rabat. “As cheesy as it may sound, getting married to my best friend and soul mate was the best feeling ever,” Graziella smiles, as she goes on to describe the emotion of seeing the joy on their guests’ faces. “Their lovely comments about the set-up was also a special moment for me. Being so passionate about event planning, I felt so proud of our team effort and what we managed to create from such a blank space,” she enthuses.
Indeed, all the couple’s hard work paid off and they achieved a day they wouldn’t change for the world. “It was surreal and magical. I can still remember waking up the morning after and looking at the photos friends and family took. We both felt like it was all just a wonderful dream. I guess like most couples, I would have loved for these special moments to go on much longer,” Graziella smiles.