My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding Review: Caravan Chic

February 18, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

MY BIG FAT GYPSY WEDDING: Thursday 18th February, Channel 4, 9pm ALERT ME

“There is one group of people who want perfection more than most…”

No, not the X Factor judges (that dream went out the window circa Chico) but gypsy brides-to-be. This film uncovers the extravagant world of 21st century gypsy and traveller weddings and ways of life, where ancient traditions and modern fashions collide.

For ‘modern fashions’ read ‘Dresses the size of hot air balloons’ and ‘Ibiza chic’.

Thelma Madine, the number one dressmaker for the travelling community, is responsible for the former. “Nothing is more important for them than the dress”, she says. The average age of gypsy brides is 17 and dreaming up the perfect outfit begins at a young age, a fact that gives them a distorted view of what’s actually wearable.

“Some dresses weigh more than the bride – the heaviest was 27 stone” recalls Madine. That’ll be the Swarovski crystals.

Besides access to their glamorous gowns, ‘Gypsy spokesperson’ Billy Welch gives the lowdown on traveller couples. “They’re forbidden to live together before marriage; anything like this would be shame to the family”. This is made all-too clear at the wedding of Bridget, 16, and Patrick by his sprint up the stairs post-nuptials.

We also meet Paddy, who runs a Manchester-based caravan site with his wife. Retired from a successful career in bare-knuckle fighting, the journalist interviewing him decides not to question Paddy’s dubious lingo.

“Travelling life is dying out, it’s like black and white tellies”, Paddy laments. On the way to his nephews wedding (one of 25 marriage ceremonies he attends per year) he details how there are no invites at gypsy weddings, just word of mouth. “I haven’t got a clue how many are turning up – could be 100, 500 or 5,000!”

“He doesn’t even know where the chapel is!” Paddy says of the groom’s father. This is made all the more baffling when we see him jabbering on the phone at a petrol station. “Oh, in Wrexham!… where’s Wrexham?”

The doc further follows Sammy Jo’s wedding preparations in Blackburn. They reveal to hairstylist Zonya how it’s normal to marry within the family (FYI, Zonya “probably wouldn’t”). As we see Sammy try on her wedding dress (with a trail the length of the M25) her mum says the reception venue has pulled out after hearing it’s a ‘gypsy’ affair. Apparently this is all-too common, and sadly so – the documentary exposes travellers as perfectly decent individuals who go against media stereotypes.

Yes – they look like they’re out for a night in Ayia Napa at the annual Appleby horse fair, which sees 10,000 gypsies come together, but considering gypsies don’t really ‘date’ it’s the perfect venue to meet their husband or wife-to-be, says Welch.

“People might call us slutty but we’re not the type to go out clubbing and end up with anyone”, says bride-to-be Joan, 22, who’s saved up every penny for her dream wedding.

Looks like she confused the word ‘Bridesmaid’ with ‘Mermaid’, though – viewers can be the judge of that one.

Deb says:

I wish I could contact someone from the Rom lineage who could help me find out if we decend from gypsys..My Auntie told me before she passed that she traced us to the Romas in ireland but i was young and never got the info from her..But Ive always thought we did decend from gypsys because the entire family has never settled anywhere always moving,and are very clannish. If anyone with the surname Bales is reading this contact me at. we are 4th generation americans with an irish background.Thanks Dh

city851 says:

the gipsys are nice once you get to know them

Nicky says:

I love the show and don’t think you are bad people. The girls have lovely figures and lovely long hair (I’m so jealous). Hope all of u live happy lives once ur married. Xxxxx

niixxiieeeee says:

p.s. Im a good english girl…I’m 21…I’ve been with my boy friend for 4 years & we got married 3 weeks ago & yes I did have a big dress!!!
Please don’t think were all bad people us “gorges” coz we ent its just the certain stero-typical cunts that make us all look bad!!!

niixxiieeeee says:

Im english born & bred…I have only ever met a few travellers/gypsy’s…I think their culture is amazing & wish every 1 could be brought up in this country with their morals. So what if they don’t pay tax at least they respect our country & our culture & religions…I wud rather have a 1000 gypsy’s live by me than 1 immagrant that don’t speak a word of english & talks about me & scrounges off the social & the NHS & Brings all their family to scrounge a bit more…At least the gypsy’s work bluddy hard…They are such respectful people & I only wish I could of been brought up in the travelling community….LAURA…I think your comment is the best thing I have ever heard…If people don’t understand from what your saying they must be dumb!!! Like I heard some1 say before if you cussed some one coz the colour of their skin, or their age/sex/religion you can be prosecuted for it so what’s the difference why do people get away with calling gypsy’s such names, there no different to me, Im a breathing human being that has the right to be respected by others same as anyone…RESPECT TO EVERY GYPSY/TRAVELLER!!!

jenny says:

I think the show is great, it is a good insight for us “gorgas” into your lifestyle, it is nice to see that although you dress like, i hate to say it, slappers, you are not, you have morals! I see many girls dressed worse on nights out in town, and they are happy enough to give it away to whom ever takes there fancy. As for the rubbish thing, yes, i have seen rubbish left behind after your vans have moved on, but then i have also seen rubbish, take-way containers and urine strewn all over the street of my town after a weekends clubbing is over. If I’m totally honest, I would say I’m a bit jelous really, I am a 30yr old single mum with a full-time job, If I’d been a gypsy I would be married by now, travelling and seeing the country and i wouldn’t have to work and clean a house every day, and i love caravans xx

100% gypsy says:




KATE says:


KATE says:


laurena says:

I LOVE IT!!!!! I think the programme is amaizing! some people need to judge less! From what I know Gypsy’s have very good morals and are lovely people and its so refreshing to see their culture! atleast they dont have a high rate of single teen moms! and NO SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE! not something that happens in the world today! we are all entitled to live of lives the way we want and i fully support it!
the dresses are fab i think they are so creative i only wish i had the guts to pull something like that off!
and Gypsys arent skavingers I happen to know a few and they are very very bloody hard working!

uggaaa x says:

Gypsy are no diffrent to us gorgys in fact iv been broght up with gypsys all my life they dont leav mess and if they do leav a little mess it will be cleared away you would never say them people to a african american would you ??no so dont say it about gypsys ..and gypsy gurls stay at home and the men gose out workig and bringing the money in the home not like you leaving you wife go out doing all the working and u stay at home thats evan if youv got a wife but by the likes of it no you havent cuz thy wouldent stick ur attitude !! so kev think twice befor you call gypsys skavingers

Luíseach says:

what the hell why dose everyone brush us with the same comb not all of us rob and stuff. at least we have repect for our selves and our families and louise, tracy smith and suck on that you are so right. IM A GYPSY AND PROUD.kev who ever you are, you should learn more about us and get your facts right. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

suck on that says:

To The Dearest Kevin! We Leave Trash Behind Because We Are Better Than You! Your nuthn but a straight gorja! You pick up the trash because you are trash! Yes I am a GYPSY and PROUD OF IT! You are a godja and pick up my litter! You also should be proud and honored to serve such a great race! 🙂 AND You Pay My Taxes! THANKS HUN! xoxo

tracy smith says:

gypsey” im with you 100 % its the poxey gorjers that need to go and fukin sort there lyfs out and how they could say us travelling gals are slutty we get a man nd sstay wiv im we end up growing old with em not lyk da gorjers they have a diffrent man each week da dirty gals ….!!!!

gypsey says:

this goes out for kev who ever he is how dare u insult me u r nothin but a wanna be so fu33k of u f33kin spaz we dont litter and if u wanna think that u f33kin think it

Dawn says:

I absolutely loved this documentary – it provided the majority of the public to get an insight into travellor traditions – would definately love to see another gypsy documentary.

haslam says:

Can anyone tell me. The girl that married PARR. She had her first dance with her father. Can anyone tell me what the record was called please and who by.

Josie says:

I would just like to say louise i agree with everything you said and respect you for taking the time to say it. We aint all the same. I’m a gypsy but yeah i finished school, went to college and am now 20 and at university studying for a degree in criminology & criminal justice. I’ve lived in a house since i was 2 but i’m still a gypsy and proud of my heritage and my family!!!

AJ says:

The majority of the people in this program were of Irish origan with absolutely no Romany genes. They are given the tital Gypsy purely because they live in caravans , but have no more in common with English Gypsies/travellers than an Aboriginal would have to an Eskimo

louise says:

its great to see a more possitve view of travellers but its was alittle one sided, we dont all dress as shown on the program most of our dads would never let us dress like that!!! i would also like to respond to kev and say yes some do leave a awful mess but thats actaully only a very small % of us also to everyone else dont call us pikeys please its meaning is degrading you would NEVER dream of saying the disgusting ‘n’ word or ‘p’ word to a black or asian person its the same thing! im a romany gypsy my romany roots go back as far as can be traced which im very proud of, we some times call our selves travellers but there are many types of travellers new age/irish/fairground and then us romany gypsys and unlike commen belief being a gypsy is not a lifestyle choice its like any other race or ethnic group you are born in to it even tho most of us romas are seltled now we still respect our gypsy heritage i married a gorga (a non gypsy in our language) at 22 my family welcomed my husband with open arms and he accepts us even tho most gorjas only ever say bad things about us and yes there are bad one’s but there is also good we are not all out to rob ya, as the saying goes “who ever shouts loadest gets heard” i mean jus cos you only see the bad you think thats all there is you dont know that the person who lives in a house a few doors down from you that behaves in a respectable way is proberly a gypsy so you think they dont exsist but we do and those who say we are stupid we are not some of us finish school some dont but those who dont are home schooled. you ask why we can sometimes be angry….cos we ave always faced racisim and discrimination, everyone seems to forget that During the Holocaust Jews that were not the only ones NOT treated humanely Gypsies were to, Up to 270000 Roma gypsys were killed. They were used for cruel experiments and the Nazis also laboured prisoners to death. and when we came to england we were hung not for a crime just for being a gypsy every other race thats has been poorly treated or suffered abuse/slavery has been apologised to and laws have been brought in to protect um except for gypsys and travellers and altho we dont suffer the way we did we still face prejudice every day we get party venues cancelled at the last minute cos of who we are people avoid us and wont let their kids talk to ours we get missed treated judged and we get called bad names, i work in a shop (yer thats right i do honest work) and untill i explained to the people i work with about us everything as soon as they saw a gypsy/traveller come in to the store they would say pikeys watch um call security, you cant tar us all with the same brush yes some steal but some dont just like all the non travellers/gypsys in the world there is good and bad yet we are all hated but we still stand pround to say what we are now that says something!! dont judge what you dont understand try talking to us ask us questions and educate yourself you might be surprised!! for example i live in a house not a caravan i dont go on the rob or con or lie or cheat im not dirty or violent im not stupid or ignorant i cant read palms or tea leafs… not a bad person, i am a gypsy! thanks for taking the time to read my comment

Rebekah says:

To Zoe Pope, the dresses were from Nico’s in Liverpool. I never had a proper wedding so we’re renewing our vows next yr.

zoe pope says:

Amazing programme and i competely admire the way the children are brought up, I would be devastated if my girls we not as respectful!! The dresses are truely amazing and I wish I could find that dress maker for the renewal of my vows!!

Kev says:

The gypsy in the intro says that the publis has a bad view of gypsies because of certain tabloids and media coverage and that that view is wrong. Really? Well my experience is that gyspies leave behind an enormous amount of litter which has to be picked up and disposed of and the taxpayers foot the bill – this is despite the local authority suppling them with bins on site.
These people are scavengers and tax-avoiders.