Real Weddings

18th June 2018

Of blind dates, lost shoes & a spectacular spring wedding – Jessica & Pablo

Newlyweds Pablo and Jessica Kuilboer share unforgettable memories from their stunning April wedding.

The story behind Jessica and Pablo’s first meeting is reminiscent of a romantic tale set in an altogether different era, a time when phones and Facebook didn’t exist. “We actually met through Pablo’s aunt, Moira,” says Jessica, 27, an interior and product designer. “We used to work together and she had suggested we meet up for a drink. In other words, it was a blind date!”


“With technology and all the dating apps that exist, it was strange going out on a blind date. I literally knew nothing about her,” says Pablo, 33, a business entrepreneur who co-owns and operates Malta Warehouse, Salumeria and Starcross Project. “Her mother, I later found out, wanted to send her sister out as a chaperone with us… imagine that!”

It didn’t take too long for the couple to know that they wanted a future together, and Jessica admits that she knew she wanted to marry Pablo from the first time they met. “The connection was instant,” Pablo agrees, “but I proposed after three years of dating because, as the Maltese proverb goes, ‘fuq tlieta toqghod il-borma’!”


As their three-year anniversary rolled around, Pablo believed he had the proposal all figured out, but things didn’t quite go as planned. Jessica explains, “We went to Gozo for our anniversary and after a nice dinner, and unexpected drinks with my grandmother’s brother who we randomly bumped into at the hotel, he casually popped the question when we arrived at our hotel room, in the least romantic way or place possible!”

Pablo chimes in to set the record straight. “I had spent a while searching for the perfect ring and made sure I had it in time for our three-year anniversary on 28th April. We headed to Gozo and drove to many scenic spots – all the while with the boxed engagement ring on me – but they all seemed too cheesy and impersonal. I wanted this to be our moment and not one for spectators,” he recounts. “After dinner, we strolled into the hotel we were staying at. Past the foyer, there was a cosy bar which seemed like a perfect spot, and as we headed to a booth with drinks in hand (to take the edge off a little), we bumped into Jess’s grandmother’s brother and his wife. We spent all evening chatting and drinking, but the ring stayed in my pocket!”


Soon after their engagement, the couple set the date for 21st April 2018, with a mass celebrated at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish Church in St Paul’s Bay – an easy choice for Jessica, whose family was born and raised there – followed by a reception at Villa Arrigo. “We planned the wedding two years in advance, which gave us plenty of time,” says Jessica. “I did stress out a few times towards the end, what with writing the invites and preparing the souvenirs, but nothing too crazy.”

With most of the preparations in Jessica’s hands, she knew what she wanted to achieve for their wedding day. “Although we didn't have a particular theme, we opted for pastel colours and a touch of succulents to give our wedding a spring and Mediterranean feel. Pablo and I didn’t really have any clashes throughout the planning process – he agreed to everything.” There was, however, one thing he was insistent about – “I wanted us to have fun on our special day. We had to take the formal photos, yes, but after that, it was party time!”


The couple were hoping to tie the knot on the same date they met, but the venue they wanted wasn’t available, so they settled for the weekend before, which worked out well, as it turned out to be a beautiful day. “We visited one wedding venue, Villa Arrigo, and we loved it. It offered the right mix of inside and outside space, and the food is top class every time,” says Pablo. “In addition to the food by Osborne Caterers, my brother and I – who run Salumeria, a cheese and charcuterie service for weddings and events – did our best to set up a nice table for my own wedding, and it was definitely well-received, as there was absolutely nothing left.”

Jessica opted for small succulent plants as souvenirs while the invitations were custom-made by Bloom Creative, which is co-owned by one of Pablo’s best friends. “It was always my plan to ask him to create our invitations, however, it was amazing that he offered,” says Pablo. “His company did a super job – the invites set the mood of the wedding, and they nailed it.”


On the morning of their wedding day, Jessica thought she was calm, but was told afterwards that she kept pacing around while getting ready. “I felt extremely nervous as soon as we arrived at the church – I can’t even describe what I was feeling, but it was incredible.” Pablo, however, admits that nervous feelings started on the eve. “That’s when it hit me,” he says, although the following morning, things started off with a hiccup – “a treasure hunt for my wedding shoes, to be specific. They were the only thing I had to take care of – Jessica meticulously organised everything else – and I somehow lost them on our wedding day! Luckily, Mattias, one of the groomsmen, had another pair of smart black shoes which I borrowed, albeit a size too large!”


Mass was celebrated by Father Bernard, who is an old friend of Jessica’s sister, and who the couple met socially and instantly connected with. Despite a quick rehearsal a few days prior, Pablo adds that emotions still got the better of him during the ceremony. “Between bawling as my wife-to-be walked up the aisle and a whirlwind of emotions, I was not in the right frame of mind to know when to sit, kneel or crouch. I normally do what people in front of me do, but I had no one to follow this time. I have to thank our videographer, Mauro D’Amato of Ready Set Go, who instructed us with small signals throughout.”


The couple celebrated their wedding day with 400 guests, including Pablo’s father’s Dutch side of the family, who came to Malta for the special occasion. Later in the day they kicked off the dancing with a slow number to Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli’s ‘Perfect Symphony’. “Pablo's mother had suggested it as our first dance song, and since I wanted my cousin, tenor Cliff Zammit Stevens, to sing our first dance together with Petra Micallef, it couldn't have been more perfect,” says Jessica. “It was truly one of the best and most emotional moments of my life.” Pablo agrees, adding that none of the dance was rehearsed, and as everyone gathered around them, Cliff's strong voice gave the crowd chills.


Their wedding day was bliss from beginning to end, but the couple agree that one of the most touching parts of the day was a stop at Burmarrad Cemetery en route to the reception to pay their respects to Jessica’s grandmother and aunt, who both passed away unexpectedly last year. “It was a very sad and difficult time for the family as we are all very close,” says Jessica. “Stopping at the cemetery for a few minutes was special, and a moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life.” Pablo adds, “we laid our wedding flowers next to them, and we felt their presence with us on our special day. They would have loved to be there.”


Looking back, Jessica and Pablo say that seeing so many happy faces around them that day was unforgettable, and they couldn’t have pulled it off without the help of everyone involved. “Aside from having to spend the day in Mattias’ size 44s and two pairs of socks, I think the whole day went down like a charm,” says Pablo. “I wouldn’t change a thing,” Jessica agrees, “apart from making sure that Pablo had his shoes the day before the wedding!”

Image Credits

Nicky Scicluna and Kris Micallef 

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