Wedding of the Week: Natalie Muscat and Stephen Williams

02 Apr 2018

A 'shoes optional' theme set the tone for Natalie Muscat and Stephen Williams' relaxed beach wedding in Malta

How did you meet?

We were on separate stag and hen dos in Magaulf (romantic!). Stephen’s hotel was over-booked so him and the stag party were moved to the hotel where the hens were. I spotted Stephen a mile off, strutting around in his Spurs shorts. I didn’t believe in love at first sight, until then.

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Tell us about the proposal.

We had booked a holiday to Barbados. On our first full day, we just relaxed on the beach, enjoying the most beautiful beach. We had researched hard for dinner ideas and picked somewhere we both liked. After watching an incredible sunset, we strolled back to our room. As I walked in, there were rose petals sprinkled all over the floor, leading to our bed upon which stood my ring box surrounded by rose petals. The ring was a 1940s diamond solitaire. He got down on one knee, and asked me to become his wife. He had also bagged the best seat in the house at Champers, a super romantic restaurant on the island.

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What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?

The theme was 'Shoes Optional'. We wanted a super relaxed day where our friends and family could really enjoy themselves. We got married at 5.30pm on the beach in Malta, which meant we could take the photos as the sun was setting. We didn’t have a strong colour theme, but as our plans developed our colours materialised as gold and dusty pink.

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What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?

We chose Paradise Bay Hotel, in Malta. My family are from Malta so I had always wanted to get married there. I took Stephen out there the year before and he fell in love with the island’s charm. The beach setting was really key for us; the position of the Island of Gozo and Comino sealed the deal for us at Paradise Bay.

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When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress?

I had a very strong image in my head of the dress I wanted that captured my style. I couldn’t find such dress anywhere. I was put into poofy dress after poofy dress, and although I felt like a princess, I didn’t feel like me. My friend took me to WED2B, just for a look. The assistant was amazing and picked something that she thought would suit my style; it was good but it certainly wasn’t my dream dress. My friend mentioned that she had taken her dress to a dress designer that lived around the corner from us; she was certain that Polka Fashions would be able to turn this dress into my something perfect. Teresa is an absolute genius. She understood my style, my body and my personality - I only wish I’d have gotten the whole dress designed and made by her. I felt like me; the most beautiful version of me.

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Did you have bridesmaids?

I didn't have bridesmaids but my girlfriends all (unplanned) looked stunning in various shades of bright, floral dresses.

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Where did you find your suits?

Again, we wanted something super relaxed – it was hot on that beach. Stephen chose a light, linen suit from M&S.

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

As we got married in Malta, it was difficult to choose seasonal flowers within a budget and also not knowing who or where to go for them. My step-mum, Karen, offered to design me a bespoke silk flower arrangement, so off we went to a wonderful garden centre. You wouldn’t believe these flowers weren’t real; they were absolutely magnificent, and proudly stand on my kitchen windowsill today.

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Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.

I am a fragrance advisor for Partylite, a candle company. Most people focus on the look and feel of the wedding, but the fragrance is so important. A fragrance can instantly bring back a memory. We had candles lining the aisle and had them as favours too, so our guests are transported back to the beach when they use them at home. We also had handmade nameplates as our favours, and a magnet thanking guests for coming.

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

Out of the two of us, I am the emotional one. As my dad and I walked onto the beach, my heart was just filled with joy. Seeing what my friends had been preparing while I was getting ready, and all our friends and family waiting there for me, made me very emotional. I couldn’t stop beaming with pride, my cheeks were so sore; although not a tear in sight, from me at least.

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What was your most memorable moment?

During our first dance. I had prepped my friend that at my signal, she would invite everyone up to dance. I remember being in the arms of my new husband, surrounded by our loved ones dancing away. It was such a wonderful moment.

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What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?

Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud. We were going to change it, as it had become so popular but it’s a special song to us. The words are full of meaning: “People fall in love in mysterious ways, maybe it’s all part of a plan?”. We were meant to meet in Magaluf that day. 

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

Not being in the same country. Having to put my trust in the hotel that everything would be the way we wanted, but I knew that I would have to take a very relaxed approach to organising.

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What was the most important investment for you? 

Food. We chose the top-end barbecue for the evening. If our guests had full bellies with delicious food, I was happy. We were keen not to serve up your standard chicken or fish sit-down meal. It was a huge barbecue with everything you could imagine.

Also, we weren’t going to have a photographer, but I met Lorna Newman at a wedding fair we were both working at. We hit it off instantly and developed a great friendship. So this was a chunk of budget that I didn’t account for, but actually the most important thing.

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Did you have any evening entertainment?

An amazing DJ. He 100% understood what we wanted and everyone danced all night long, it was incredible. At the end of the night, the last ones standing were sat chatting over the leftover booze and the DJ came over to say he’d never known a wedding like it, everyone dancing all evening.

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

We had two. One was a huge chocolate, nutty brownie Maltese cake. As a coeliac, I needed a gluten-free cake. We didn’t eat the cake at the wedding; the next day, 14 of us went on a boat trip to the Comino and the gluten-free cake came with us. It was a real special moment, on the beach munching the wedding cake.

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If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

Nothing, everything was perfect. The timings, the music, the food (so I’m told).

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Did anything go wrong on the day?

What didn't go wrong on the week leading up to the wedding? Stephen’s shirt got sent to the wrong room. My hairdresser was in tears. The registrar was late. I couldn’t hear the music as we walked down the isle. No one could hear us at the altar although we heard each other and that’s all that matters.

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Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

That we wouldn’t eat any of the food we spent all the money on.

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Where did you go on honeymoon?

Because we went abroad for the wedding, we wanted to spend a week at home just being married. We rented out a beautiful cottage in Rye for two nights. We took our dog, Jess, and spent our time walking along the quiet beaches.

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Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?

Don’t get wrapped up in what you think you should have, or other people's options. You want to go bare feet, do it. Don’t want to spend hundreds of pounds on invitations? Don’t. Just do 'you', and stay true to who you are as a couple.

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Steal their style:

Photography: Lorna Newman Weddings, http://lornanewmanweddings.com 
Make-up: ELLEM FX, https://laurenmuscat04.wixsite.com/website
Rings: Gatsby Jewellery, www.gatsbyjewellery.co.uk
Dress. Polka Fashions, Aveley, Essex; www.polkafashions.co.uk
Favours: Two Crafty Giraffes, www.twocraftygiraffes.com
Candles and centrepieces: Natalie Muscat, https://natalie-muscat.partylite.co.uk

For more destination wedding inspiration, pick up the latest edition of Bride magazine. 

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