8th July 2019
Lifting Us Higher – Noella & Matthew
A long romance led to a dream wedding for photographer Noella Agius and waterpolo player Matthew Zammit.
Noella Agius and Matthew Zammit go back a very long way. They first met around 15 years ago through their shared passion for waterpolo – he was a player for the St Julian’s team and she was a staunch Sliema supporter. “Back then I despised him!” Noella grins.
A few years later, Matthew returned from his waterpolo journey in Italy and the duo bumped into each other in Paceville, and they got together. Sadly, this preluded a very chaotic period in their lives, when Noella’s father was tragically killed in an accident. “We had only been together a year at the time,” she recalls. “And instead of being able to focus on the future I fell into a very dark place and wasn’t able to appreciate the person who was by my side. It was a very difficult time.”
The couple was on-again off-again for seven years after that. They both had other relationships, and Noella gave birth to her daughter, Giorgia. “One day, out of the blue, Giorgia and I were in Sliema and she ran off. I had no idea where she was and was panicking, until I found her standing by Matthew, hugging him. That got us talking again, and we decided to give our relationship another go. From then on, we knew it was true love, and we’ve never looked back.”
It’s been a busy time for the family since then. Matthew and Noella got serious very quickly, and he immediately started to help her raise Giorgia, along with Giorgia’s dad. “Matthew would do anything for that little girl,” Noella smiles. “It’s one of the things I love most about him.”
A proposal wasn’t far off either. “Admittedly it wasn’t the most romantic proposal ever!” Noella quips. “I was lying in bed and Matthew came over, handed me a ring, and smiling, said ‘that’s the next step for us, right?’, I said yes, of course! It wasn’t exactly a fairytale ending, but it was very us.”
With wedding bells now ringing, the couple got down to planning their fun-filled big day – 27th April 2019 - with the help of wedding planner Katia at KG Events. They chose to tie the knot at Ta’ Giezu Church in Valletta for the simple reason that Noella absolutely loves the capital and its views. “I wanted to have a bar open right outside the church, and am lucky that my cousin owns Bridge Bar close by, so the vibe as we walked outside was wonderful.”
As an experienced photographer, Noella knows a thing or two about weddings, and she knew she didn’t want to be stressed on the day. “I wanted to love every second, so I wasn’t fussy at all. I just went with the flow and didn’t complicate things; it’s when you panic that things start to go wrong. With that in mind, I chose to work with top professionals and left everything in their hands so it would all run smoothly – and it did. I had my mind at rest throughout and it was all top notch. I am so glad we did it that way.”
After the church ceremony and street party, guests jumped aboard an old Maltese bus to make their way to Villa Arrigo in Naxxar – another aspect that Noella says went beautifully. “The venue is so convenient and charming!” she enthuses. “Working with Veronica and the team there was so seamless from the get-go that I didn’t bother going anywhere else – especially when I tasted the menu by Osborne Caterers, which was delicious! We danced the night away with our fabulous band, the Brass House Unit. It was such fun and absolutely perfect.”
Looking back, Noella says that one of the most important elements for her was having her children present – both her daughter Giorgia, and the couple’s son Jamie, who is eight months old. “The excitement on their faces was an absolute picture,” she beams. “Overall, I think one of the most special moments was seeing Giorgia hold the blue rose we had taken to church in memory of my dad, as he died while holding a blue rose just like that one,”
Noella says, adding that all the bouquet arrangements designed for her by Alistair were gorgeous. “Giorgia hadn’t been told to hold it, but says that she was thinking about nannu while it was in her hand – even though she never met him. It made me sure that he was there with us, and lifted my spirits even higher. His presence made everything come together even more.
Given the emotional start to their relationship all those years ago, it’s no surprise that emotions were running high on the day, too. “Walking down the aisle, I could see people weeping as though they were at a funeral! Then I looked at Matthew and he was sobbing too. He wept for so long that, eventually, our priest – Father Claude – suggested it might be time to stop crying! I guess we were all so happy and equally overwhelmed.”
Another highlight came when – after cutting their beautiful cake – Noella was ushered upstairs to change. “My bridesmaids and the wedding planner were rushing me away and I kept telling them to slow down – little did I know that Ira Losco and Ivan Grech were waiting back downstairs to surprise me! They sang the beautiful duet Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, which means a lot to Matthew and I.”
“Then, Ivan also performed Miss You – a song he doesn’t usually sing at weddings but which always reminds me of my father. I so wanted dad to be a part of our day, so that meant the world. I had mentioned it to Matthew but had no idea he would surprise me in that way. It was another incredible moment and, of course, everyone started sobbing again!”
Looking back now, Noella says she wouldn’t change a thing about her and Matthew’s special day. From the traditional band playing them into their new married life, to her stunning dress (a Chiara Ferragni design with shorts underneath that perfectly matched her tomboy personality, bought from Wedding Bells), it was all exactly as they’d hoped. The suits for the gentlemen in the party, meanwhile, were from The Groom, and they also looked fantastic.
“I love being married and look forward to everything that life will hopefully bring us. As for my future? Well, this relationship has literally taken me from A to Z, and I couldn’t be happier!”