Real wedding

13th November 2018

A wedding by the water – Eliza & Cris

Five months after tying the knot, Eliza Calleja and Cris Borg relive memories from their fun-filled wedding day

When pastry chef Eliza Calleja attended a New Year’s Eve party a few years ago, little did she imagine it would be there that she’d meet her future husband. “I was working as a lawyer at the time, and Cris is an aircraft engineer. Cris’s friends organised a small party in Valletta, and – as I’m not a fan of NYE parties – I wasn’t sure whether I even wanted to go out until a couple of hours before it started, but I did,” she says. “It turned out that Cris was going to DJ together with a friend of his that night (quite amateur but great fun!), and our eyes met when I first arrived. He didn’t get around to speaking to me, but it was only the morning after that I received a ‘friend request’ on Facebook and we started going out after that.”

A few months after they started dating, Eliza and Cris were faced with the opportunity to pack their bags and pursue their passions overseas. “I got an opportunity to move to Dubai and go to culinary school there and, as luck would have it, around the same time, Cris was offered a position with a local airline in Abu Dhabi. So, eight months into our relationship, we found ourselves moving to a different continent together. We had never openly discussed tying the knot but we both knew, from early on, that this was where the relationship was heading.”

Two years in, the couple got engaged, and although there was no official proposal, Eliza explains that Cris was hoping to pop the question during a visit back home. “The thought of having to choose a ring for me became too daunting for Cris, and after several fruitless attempts at buying a ring on his own, he decided it would be more prudent to rope me into the decision-making,” she says. “I found him very distressed one evening, a few nights before we were meant to fly back to Malta for a visit before Christmas, and he confessed that the main goal of the trip was for him to buy me a ring and propose. Not exactly romantic, but it was sweet how concerned he was about getting the perfect ring for me!”

The couple set the date for 3rd June 2018, with a ceremony at St John of the Cross Parish Church, Ta’ Xbiex, followed by a reception at the Ballroom Terrace at the Radisson Blu Golden Sands. Eliza explains that the wedding preparations were truly a joint effort, with Cris being even more involved in some aspects of the wedding than she was!

“I wanted a very small wedding while he wanted the typical Maltese one – since we hadn’t met many of our family members and friends since we had moved abroad, I caved, and we ended up hosting a wedding for around 300 people. I was dead set on having a very relaxed day, from beginning to end, so I insisted on having Rene Rossignaud as our photographer,” says Eliza. “We agreed on choosing a venue as close to the sea as possible, so the choice of reception venue was quite straightforward. I was also dead set on having doughnuts as part of the sweets table and, with the help of my father and Cris, even managed to fit in making a DIY doughnut stand – I ended up painting the stand after I had my wedding manicure done two nights before the wedding. That’s true doughnut dedication!”

Being her area of expertise, Eliza also gave some extra attention to the wedding cake. “I wanted it to be classic but different at the same time, so I asked a very talented cake decorator, Rita Knowles, who had taught me how to make edible sugar flowers, to make the flowers for us from scratch, and I was so pleased with the end result!”

While they didn’t choose a formal theme for their wedding day, Eliza says that, in keeping with her love for flowers, she wanted much of the wedding to revolve around them. “From the invites to the flowers on the cake to floral décor at the venue, various aspects featured flowers, which glued the theme together. I brought some dried baby roses and lavender from Dubai to throw after the ceremony, and decided early on to have fresh flowers in my hair. We also included blue in the theme; my sister, who was my maid of honour, wore a blue dress, and I chose a subtle blue colour for some of the flowers. I even had my grandma’s wedding ring sewn onto the inside of the dress as my ‘something old’, and to have a special something to remember her by on the day.”

The couple kept their respective wedding parties small and intimate – Eliza had her sister as maid of honour and brother as usher, while Cris had his bother as best man on the day. “While the wedding was proper traditional overall, we did have four witnesses in total which is somewhat unusual – Cris’s sisters and my two best friends,” says Eliza. “We wanted to involve all our siblings in one way or other and I couldn’t leave out my two closest friends who were instrumental in making the whole day perfect, and most importantly, keeping me sane!”

As for the bride’s dress, Eliza explains that her wedding dress shopping experience was not entirely plain sailing. “I found it very stressful, especially after my sister and I had gone to practically all the bridal shops in Dubai, trying on one elaborate dress after another. I knew I didn’t want a strapless dress or a dress with lace, and I ended up choosing just that!” she says. “I really wanted an off-the-shoulder dress, but I just couldn’t find the right one, so we decided to customise a strapless gown. It was more complicated than we thought as I had to do fittings months apart, every time I was in Malta, and had to order additional lace for the sleeves, but in the end, with the help of a very good seamstress and amazing staff at Alamango Bridal, we managed to pull it off.”

Their special day went off without a hitch – almost! Eliza elaborates, “One of the few guests who managed to come to our wedding all the way from Dubai missed the ceremony as the driver who was meant to pick up all our guests from abroad skipped her name on the list. It was only while we were greeting our guests outside the church that my sister’s and my eyes met, and we shouted, “Where’s Pauline?!!” – kind of like that famous scene from Home Alone!”

From start to finish, Eliza and Cris had an incredible time at their wedding and struggle to pick a favourite part of day. “We truly enjoyed spending the day with people who we hadn’t seen in a long time, from family abroad to friends from home. It was the reason for having a traditional wedding in the first place, and we don’t regret it for a second.”

Image Credits

Rene Rossignaud

Wedding Directory