18th December 2017
A Sunset Celebration: Maria and James
Maria Camilleri and James Psaila wanted to create a wedding that was just as beautiful as their love story, right down to the last detail.
Maria Camilleri was feeling slightly queasy at a boat party when she first met James Psaila. He noticed that she was looking unwell, and went over to check if she was alright – and as they started talking, her seasickness made way for a different kind of butterflies in her stomach. The couple, both 27, have been together for nearly seven years. They wed on 27th May, in a stunning ceremony at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Paul in Mdina, followed by a lavish reception at Villa Rosa in St Julian’s.
James asked Maria to marry him in 2014, during a holiday in Santorini. “I booked a restaurant with sunset views, to make sure it was as romantic as possible, but we got lost on the way there and by the time we arrived, the sun had already set,” James laughs. The sunset certainly wasn’t a deal breaker – Maria said yes and the two set out on planning the wedding of their dreams. “We wanted to do everything ourselves,” Maria said. “It was a huge project, but in the end, we knew that it would be totally ours.”
Choosing the church and the venue was easy – the perfect dress however, proved more elusive. The two travelled all over the fashion capitals of Europe, from Barcelona to London to Milan; and Maria tried on creations by Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad and Berta, but nothing ready-made would do. Armed with a clear picture of what she wanted her dress to look like, she turned to Gozitan virtuoso designer Luke Azzopardi, who created a gown just for her, with a blend of hand-beaded Chantilly lace laid over pure silk satin and pure silk organza from Camilleriparismode. The whole gown and Maria’s beautiful mantilla veil were adorned with 3D georgette flowers, hand-beaded and hand-applied.
The silhouette was finished off with a cathedral-length silk chiffon double-cape, which, needless to say, looked incredible as she glided down the aisle of St Paul’s. The bride wore Louboutins which had to be imported from the United States – no stockist in Europe carried a size so petite – and she carried a perfectly round bouquet which matched the groom’s boutonniere. As Maria and James exited the church as husband and wife, guests released clouds of white balloons into the clear blue sky amid thunderous applause. “The ceremony was so beautiful, it was the best part of the wedding for me,” Maria says.
The gardens of Villa Rosa, already a gorgeous venue to begin with, were dressed up to the nines for the occasion, which only took on a more magical air as the sun went down. Maria and James were influenced by the work of Jeff Leatham, the Kardashians’ florist of choice, and came up with the idea of a heart-shaped flower wall made of pink and white blooms; they turned to Bjorn Borg from Floreal to execute it. It was a decadent and romantic choice, as well as the perfect photo opportunity for guests.
Speaking of photo opportunities, besides the photographer and videographer, a Polaroid photographer took instant snaps of the guests that they could take home to cherish the memories. Guests dined on sushi and live-cooked shrimps and prawns to churrasco-style meat. Whiskey aficionados and champagne lovers were well catered for as well, with dedicated bars for each drink, while the dessert table was filled with enough treats to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Music was one of the top priorities for James and Maria on their big day – they had a custom-designed stage built over the swimming pool that could support the band, singers and guests on the dancefloor. Gianni and Pamela Bezzina entertained guests until it came to the first dance – then, local legends Ira Losco and Ivan Grech from Winter Moods took to the stage to sing a duet of Xemx, as fireworks set off from the rooftop of Villa Rosa lit up the sky behind them. The effect was nothing short of magical. Meanwhile, brass band Versatile made sure the crowd made good use of their dancing shoes, playing a medley of hits that got the whole party dancing.
The celebrations were topped off with an after party inside the villa itself, with Ziggy on the decks. Maria changed into another Luke Azzopardi creation, a shorter but equally stunning dress, while James took to the dancefloor in a Burberry suit. The party kept going strong until two in the morning. “For me, it was the best part of the wedding,” James says. “We could finally relax and let loose, knowing every single part of the day had turned out just the way we wanted.”