18th February 2019
Partners in life and love – Josette & Georges
The couple have been married for 44 years
When Josette and Georges Magri bumped into each other in 1966, it wasn’t a case of love at first sight. “My girlfriend at the time was actually Josette’s best friend,” says Georges, “but the relationship only lasted a few months. Josette and I met some time later at a party, and our relationship gradually took its course from there.”
I meet the couple at their Rabat home, Casa Bernard, a stunning 16th century palace that is open to visitors. The home is brimming with collectibles and objets d’art, as well as picture frames filled with family photos, including ones from the couple’s wedding day in 1974.
“By the standards of those days, we took a long time to get married. We were engaged in 1972, but waited a couple more years until the wedding because we both wanted to spend a few years teaching after graduating from University before getting married,” they explain. While both were teachers, Josette also worked as a Legal Procurator (LP). “I decided to stop working as an LP, and it was then, before we were married, that Georges persuaded me to start giving private lessons, which I started doing at my mother’s house. Georges then started too, and we both gave private lessons in languages until recently.”
The couple set their wedding date for 26th October 1974. Mass was held at the church of St Gregory in Sliema, which was Josette’s parish, followed by a reception at The Palms in St Julian’s. “The Palms was immensely popular at the time, and also quite new. Josette’s father couldn’t understand why we wanted to get married there because it was more expensive than the other available options at the time, but we were set on it!”
The bride and her mother were equally involved in the wedding preparations, and the groom too. “Georges even saw the material of my dress before the wedding!” says Josette. “I knew I wanted lots of flowers on the day, and had Marie Louise Mifsud, who was one of the best floral designers at the time, together with my aunt, prepare the flower arrangements. The venue itself had a beautiful garden setting with many tall palm trees.”
The bride wore a gown designed by a famed local seamstress from Hamrun, who created a long-sleeved dress with a fitted top and soft skirt complete with lace and sequin detailing. Josette had six bridesmaids on the day, whose dresses were made from a floral white and pink fabric that wouldn’t look out of place at a modern-day wedding.
The couple had a ball on the day, which was sprinkled with some unforgettable and spontaneous moments. “We had invited some students from our private lessons to the wedding, but obviously couldn’t invite them all,” they say. “However, after the mass, we invited any of our students who had turned up at the church to come to the reception too, without advising the caterers.” Georges adds, “there was also a dare gone wrong between my sister and her nephew, Chris Grech, which ended with her being thrown into the pool in October in full wedding attire, hat and all. She had to go home and change!”
The couple went on their honeymoon the following December, spending a week in London followed by a weekend in Paris just after Christmas. Two years later, in 1976, they welcomed their son, Max, who today has two daughters of his own. Their advice after 44 years of marriage? “Patience, with a capital P, and a touch of humour,” says Josette. “Patience, tolerance and self-sacrifice,” adds Georges. “With those, marriage can go a long way.”