19th July 2018
From a One-way ticket to Australia to the Altar – Christine & Fabio
“As time went by, I realised I could not live without Christine, and I decided to pop the question.”
Christine Pace and Fabio Bonnici were long-time friends before there was even a spark of romance between them. “We got to know each other through my brother, Mark,” says Christine. “He and Fabio used to work at a language school in summer and got to know each other from there. We would meet casually sometimes in Paceville with our friends – Fabio used to message me to see whether I would be going out, so he and his friends can tag along with our group.”
One fateful day, Fabio was at a wedding with Mark, the first one of two on the day, and Mark asked Fabio if he wanted to be Christine’s guest at the second wedding. “I didn’t really have a choice – when my brother called to see if I was bringing a guest with me, he told me he had told Fabio to come with us!” Christine laughs. During the wedding, Fabio mentioned to Christine that he was interested in taking a one-year sabbatical in Australia. “At the time, I was still waiting for my final ACCA result, and I told him that if I passed, I would be in. I got the result in August, and in September, we bought a one-way ticket to Australia.”
Backpacking around Australia meant that the two got very close, very fast. “As soon as we started ‘dating’ – well, it was more like living together automatically – during our trip around Australia, we really hit it off,” says Fabio. “Like any other couple, we had our ups and downs, but as time went by, I realised I could not live without Christine, and I decided to pop the question. It was her 28th birthday and I fooled her into believing that we were going to watch sunset near the Red Tower in Mellieha, followed by dinner. A family friend owns a field nearby, and I arranged everything there with my parents – setting up the décor with lots of pictures, and preparing a romantic dinner for sunset. At first, she didn’t want to enter, because she thought that we were trespassing, but she was really surprised with everything, including the fireworks from a feast in Gozo to top the night off!”
When it came to planning the wedding, Fabio says choosing the church was no problem. “I attended St Edward’s College when I was a kid, and it was always one of my dreams to get married in the school’s beautiful chapel. Once Christine saw it, she fell in love with it too, and it was an easy decision.” The venue was a little bit trickier. “We practically viewed each and every wedding venue in Malta, which got exhausting because each one had something which we both did not like – either the strict hours, the food, or the layout of the venue,” Christine says. “Then we went to Xara Lodge and we loved both the venue layout and the mouth-watering food. We couldn’t have asked for a better service from them.”
The night before the big day rolled around, both Christine and Fabio said that they had trouble getting enough rest. “I couldn’t sleep the night before, I was really excited,” Fabio says, “but, on the day, after my groomsmen came over, I was quite relaxed.”
“I couldn’t sleep either,” confirms Christine. “I was closing my eyes and opening them every five seconds, contemplating every single bit of the wedding, mostly the weather. The weather page was my first thing in the morning ritual, especially the week of the wedding – we had a plan B in case it rained, but we had our hearts set on an outdoor wedding! Everyone was trying to put my mind at rest that the weather would be good, but still I just wanted the night to be over so that I could confirm it. On the day, I was quite calm, but I would still burst into tears now and then. The worst was when I was doing my make-up. ‘No, don’t cry now!’ my make-up artist begged. ‘Two more minutes and you’ll be ready!’”
It was all worth it for the moment that Fabio saw Christine walking down the aisle, in a gorgeous gown from Camilleri Paris Mode. “Throughout the vows and during my speech, my heart beat a bit faster than usual, but it was all just an incredible feeling.” The moment was all the more touching for the fact that Christine’s father, who suffers from post-polio syndrome, managed to walk the beautiful bride down the aisle.
Christine says that the day was one of the best of her life. “Fabio’s surprise speech was the cherry on the cake, it really came from the heart and it left all the guests in tears. And his sister made a magazine for us, surprising us both with it on the day. It had photos, messages from friends and family, and ‘adverts’ featuring us.
They also had a replica of the van they owned in Australia – made by Christine’s neighbour Jonny – where they had shared so many happy memories, and where their love story had really started to bloom. The couple shared their first dance to Magic by Coldplay, and only stopped dancing to cut the cake – the party kept going until after midnight.
“We can’t really believe that we’re saying this, because nothing is ever perfect in life, but everything turned out the way we pictured it,” says Christine. “If we had to get married again, there’s nothing we would change.”