A Real Wedding Elopement in Malta, with Mark Dolby Photography PART 2

Part two today of the real wedding trilogy in Malta, with Mark Dolby Photography.  You may have already caught Part 1 on the blog earlier in the week.  Its really exciting today as I get to share the wedding day pictures, all I can say is love, love, LOVE!

I have never been to Malta, but it looks stunning, and a pretty amazing wedding venue.  The two stars of the show are Jonny and Emma, and without further ado I will hand over to let them tell us about their day and their love story….

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Tell us about your love story:

We met at university in 1994 in Newcastle – at Emma’s first week. We became firm friends immediately. We kept in touch after graduation, and Emma finally succumbed to my charms when we were back in Leeds in 1999 (both of us were from Leeds originally).

Everything happened very quickly then – we moved in together within 6 months and bought our first house within a year. We were engaged in 2001, however that’s when things slowed down significantly, as it took us nearly another 13 years to actually tie the knot. There were many reasons for the delay in getting married (non of which were second thoughts!), with us both working away for a period, and spending the money we should have used on the wedding on our house, holidays and having fun. We also never quite found the venue we were looking for.

We knew we wanted to get married abroad, but had few ideas other then that. We finally found the venue in Malta, which was perfect for us.

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How was the proposal?

We went to the North East, under the guise of Christmas shopping, and I booked a night at Lumley Castle near Durham, where Emma had visited whilst at University and is a beautify hotel. We were engaged on the 2nd December 2001, I did the traditional thing and got on one knee by a bench, under a tree with Christmas lights, so it was a great setting.


It was a total surprise to Emma – however despite my planning, I did not manage a memorable speech, and neither of us can remember what I said (probably a good thing), but I got a yes, so it was the right result! Going back to the North East seemed right, as that was where we had first met, and spend a lot of happy times.

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When was the wedding date / venue?

We were married on the 30th September 2014 at the Palazzo Pariso in Nexaar, Malta. It is an amazing venue, truly stunning – build in the 18th Century it is now used as a restaurant, gardens and venue for weddings. Despite the grandeur of the building, we wanted an intimate wedding, so it was just the two of us for our wedding day (plus Mark, our fantastic photographer), then a party back at home for friends and family afterwards.

As we had spent so long being engaged, we did want the venue to be right when we finally were married. We did not specifically chose Malta, but through a lot of research (by Emma), found the ballroom in the Palazzo, knew it was perfect, and then booked the wedding/ holiday on the basis of that venue. Fortunately, we also really enjoyed our two weeks in Malta, although Emma is insisting that was not our honeymoon…

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How did you plan and organise your day?

After leaving it so long to finally get married, we wanted a memorable wedding, and we certainly got that. We booked the holiday and wedding through Thomson’s. Part of the package was that we had a wedding co-ordinator who was based in Malta – Amanda Balzan was great,. She was very helpful before the trip, giving us all the information we needed. We met her the day we flew out, and she explained all the processes, and legal requirements, and sorted out all the paperwork for us. She was also a part of our special day, being a witness and doing a reading.


Despite Amanda’s help, and the fact that it was only the two of us, it still required quite a lot of research, and organising – and this took up much of our spare time in the months building up to the wedding, but it was worth it.


One of the best decisions we made was to use Mark Dolby as our photographer. We could have had a photographer over in Malta as part of the package, but we were not sure the quality of the photos we would receive. We remembered Mark from a wedding show, and really loved the style of his photos. Mark gave us a great quote, and flew out to Malta for a couple of days, plus did the photos for our wedding party. The photos were fantastic, they really reflected the day, and Mark understood what we were looking for.

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Any great tips for our brides planning their own wedding?

Leaving a gap between the wedding and the party was good, but we spent more time focusing on the wedding and holiday and should have spent more time before the wedding focusing on the party – the three weeks between coming home and the party just flew as we spent a lot of time sorting out the details for the party, so our first few weeks as a married couple were not particularly relaxing!


Do what you want. It’s your special day. We knew our family would have preferred to be there, but we stuck to our guns and did it our way, which made it very personal for us and wouldn’t have done it any other way! Our families are still speaking to us, they knew we would do something different, and were just surprised and happy we were finally getting married after such a long time engaged!

20140930-Jonny and Emma-Wedding-7920140930-Jonny and Emma-Wedding-90Try on as many dresses as you need to, to feel like you are confident with the decision you made. Emma found her dress very quickly in the second shop but then returned a second time and tried on several different styles before coming back to ‘the one’ before making a firm decision. Sue at Limelight occasions was brilliant at making Emma feel comfortable and confident in her choice and allowing her to try on different styles just to be sure.


Reception venue – if you have a firm idea of what you want make sure it is written down. Make sure you meet the person in charge of setting it up on the day and not just the sales person for the venue, and make sure they know your vision.

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Most memorable part of the wedding?

It is very difficult to say one part was the most memorable. We just had an amazing , perfect day, and it is so hard to focus on one thing. Before the wedding, the hairdresser and person doing the make up were great, and Emma had a fun relaxed morning – doing it in the hotel room was good as it meant less running about. Our hotel (the George Urban Boutique in St Julians) were also fantastic, really helpful and even gave us a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate the big day.


The ceremony was fairly brief, and as we were a bit nervous, it just flew, but after the wedding we got time to explore the building and the gardens, and take some great photos. We also managed a (poor) waltz in the ballroom, which was fun and special. After the photos, we had afternoon tea in the gardens, which was great just to have some time together and switch off for an hour. We then travelled to a town called Medina, which is a beautiful old walled town, where we strolled round and took some memorable photos. All the locals and tourists were so friendly, making a fuss of us – acouple even wanted their photos taking with us, which made us feel like minor celebrities!

20140930-Jonny and Emma-Wedding-11220140930-Jonny and Emma-Wedding-130After the visit to Medina, Mark finally took his leave (he had an early flight the next day), and we went for a lovely meal at St Julians – the Dolce Viata, overlooking the harbour, with a bottle of champagne and again royally treated by the staff there. It was a perfect end to a perfect day.


If I had to say the most memorable thing, it was not a particular part of the wedding, but just how beautiful Emma looked, and how happy she was throughout the day. I knew she would look great, and chose the perfect dress, but I was really knocked out when I saw her for the first time in the dress, nearly 4 months later, its still hard to put it into words how I felt, and looking at the photos still has the same effect now.

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There’s loads of photographers to choose from, how did you select The photographer? What makes them stand out?

There were several things that made Mark stand out. Firstly we remembered his photos from a wedding show, and his style was what we were looking for. We had not yet decided on the date/ venue when we spoke to Mark there, but we knew we were going to get married abroad, and Mark was interested in photographing abroad, and was interested in what we were suggesting. Once we had the wedding booked and decided to try book a photographer from the UK, we thought of Mark straight away. We contacted him with details of the venue to see if he would be interested in coming out to Malta, which thankfully he did. We then met Mark to discuss what we needed, and he understood the type of photos we were looking for.


As well as his enthusiasm for our ideas, and his style of photography, just as importantly, Mark is a great guy. On the day, as it was just the two of us and Mark , we were going to be spending a lot of time together and it was important that we got on with each other, and did not feel awkward – as posing for photos is certainly not something Im good at, although Emma loved it! Mark was great, on the night before the wedding, we went out to a beautiful beach on the other side of the island and took some photos. It got some great shots, got us used to being photographed and also took our mind off the next day!


On the day Mark ended up being a big part of the wedding – as it was only the two of us, he helped with some of the running about jobs, such as getting me little things such as my shirt, cufflinks and the rings, which I had forgotten and left in our room – I was using Marks room to get changed.


A testimony for the kind of person Mark is was that he managed to get one of those photos developed and framed, and left it with us as a gift when he flew back to the UK, which was very kind of him. The main thing though was the quality of the photos – we are delighted with them, and have had great feedback from our friends and family,

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Big shout-Outs!

Dress – Limelight Occasions, based at Lepton in West Yorkshire http:// www.limelightoccasions.co.uk/ . Sue and Jane helped Emma with the choice of dress. Once it was delivered, Rita made it fit perfectly. They did a great job in helping Emma choose the right dress and made the whole experience seem fun and not too stressful!

For Emma’s hair accessory, she went to Lou Lou Puchalka (http://www.louloupuchalka.com/). 
 Emma showed her the dress and gave an idea of what she wanted and Lou Lou made a beautiful bespoke headpiece. She is a very warm friendly lady, and very talented – she did a wonderful job, exactly what Emma asked for.

For our party we used the Yorkshire Cake Fairy – http://yorkshirecakefairy.co.uk/. We came to her at very short notice (whilst Sue was on holiday!), and she did a fantastic job producing a cake, pop cakes and cup cakes, designed to fit in with our colour scheme. they were beautiful, and tasted great.


Wedding day full image gallery:

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