I’ve been to a few weddings in Malta now, in my 9 years on the island, and there were definitely a few surprises along the way, so I thought it’d be helpful to give you a rundown on a traditional Maltese wedding.
Of course, not everyone is going to follow this formula, plenty of Maltese people go their own way when planning a wedding, but I’d say, for the most part, if the couple is Maltese and the wedding is being held in Malta, then at least some of these points will be important for you to know.
How to dress for the heat
Most Maltese weddings are held in summer. I can understand it, as at least you can rely on the weather to be sunny and bright, with no risk of rain, but it also means you’ll need to consider the temperature. If it’s a day wedding, especially. Will you be outside during the day? Is it a church wedding? Churches are rarely fitted with AC so a thick, heavy dress or stiff, hot suit is going to be absolutely unbearable.
But, most likely the couple will expect formal attire and you don’t find so many smart suits coming with shorts! Do what you can to make the outfit as cool as possible. Look into linen options, wear a shirt that looks good with and without the jacket, so you can take off the suit jacket once the most formal part is over. Choose a light, flowy dress, not something skin tight.
But still keep it formal
Even though you’re likely to be sweltering all day, you’ll still need to keep it pretty formal. That means no shorts, no mini skirts and, if it’s a church wedding, women will need to cover their shoulders. This one drives me absolutely insane, but if you don’t abide by it, you may well be asked to leave the church and miss the service entirely. I’d recommend wearing a strappy dress, one that lets your arms breathe, but bring a thin shawl that you can wear around your shoulders in the church and that won’t be too cumbersome to carry with you for the rest of the day/night.
Where to sit?
In England, there is often a ‘groom’ side and a ‘bride’ side and you sit on the side of the one who invited you. I’ve not seen this in Malta. The first few rows are reserved for immediate family, bridesmaids and the best man, then everyone else can sit wherever they like.
Do I need to bring a gift to a wedding in Malta?
Kind of. Mostly it’ll be stated in the invite, but the general rule is that the happy couple will expect money. And how much money you gift is directly proportional to how well you know them. How much to give is always a tough one but in my opinion, give what you want. What you can afford and what you won’t resent giving!
Will there be food at a Maltese wedding?
As with all of the points raised here, any wedding can differ and, based on the couples preferences, may not follow the ‘standard’ formula, but as a guest, it’s good to know what usually happens in Malta. In the UK, for example, at a wedding there will mostly be a sit down meal, but that’s rarely the case in Malta. But never fear, you wont be going hungry! In my experience, here they favour the buffet and/or finger foods, sometimes even ‘food truck’ style offerings. So rather than a formal, sit down dinner, there will be a constant flow of food once the ceremony is done.
How long will it last?
Until it gets shut down. It doesn’t matter if the ceremony is at noon, or 6 in the evening, the party afterwards will go on until the police come and shut down the music. The usual schedule is something like:
- move to the reception location
- the bar will open and drinks will begin flowing
- buffet/finger food will start (and continue for some time!)
- a live band will begin
- the live band will continue
- the live band may never stop
- 2 AM: police will come to shut down the noise
Are Maltese weddings big?
Maltese weddings are huge! A small wedding might be 500 people. It’s common to invite just about every person that the couple ever met, and, of course, their entire family (including distant cousins and relatives they maybe have never even met). Don’t expect much time with the happy couple as they’ll be trying to spend a little time with everyone and it’s impossible with such huge gatherings of people.
The most important things to know about Maltese weddings
The most important things to know when attending a wedding in Malta are:
- If it’s a church wedding, women must cover their shoulders
- Gift usually = money
- No AC in church!
- Buffet or a flow of finger food, rather than a sit-down dinner
- Open bar
- Live music
- Will go on until 2AM at least, often even later.