Swarovski crystals, five stone dresses and whitey Nikies, it can only be a Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, writes Natalie Voorheis
A new five part documentary series on Channel 4, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, offers an up close and personal account of the lives of Irish gypsies living in Britain today. Channel 4 offers unprecedented access to one of the most secretive communities in Britain.
With modern influences threatening the future of the gypsy way of life, this series examines the measures a community will go to in order to keep tradition alive. Behind the caravan door lies a world of surreal extravagance that will have you glued to the screen as the gypsy community strive to prove their pride.
Young gypsy girls marry at seventeen years old, having remained completely pure until their wedding day. Pre-marital sex is completely unheard of and most brides have never even eaten in front of their new husbands before they tie the knot, let alone lived together.
The process of courtship in the gypsy community centers around a tradition called “grabbing” where the guy forcibly steals a kiss from the girl he likes, while ignoring her frantic protests. This sounds a bit ‘rapey’, and looks it too, but that’s just how it’s done, and is condoned by the whole community.
Once you have been grabbed by a guy wedding bells are never far off and this is where the TV goldmine begins. Money is no object, and for women who take pride in being reared to be housewives the wedding day is their moment to shine. The parties these girls plan are, I guarantee, beyond any extravagance you’ve ever heard of.
According to tradition, for example, a truly great wedding dress will weigh more than the grooms father, has thirty five underskirts, gets you stuck in the stairway, the pink hummer door and the wedding aisle, leaves permanent scars on your hips due to its weight, requires you to wear Nikes underneath it instead of heels, has Swarovski crystals on every available inch and lights up because of the fiber optic detailing. Honestly none of this is made up.
My personal highlight of the series so far is without a doubt bride Josie’s ‘hoochy’ dancing in her wedding dress to musical artist extraordinaire Tinie Tempah. Considering her dress weighs five stone and is wider than she is tall, this girl brings it. It really must be seen to be believed.
Big Fat Gypsy Weddings airs on Channel 4 on Tuesday nights at 9pm. If you’ve missed an episode or simply want to relive the best bits, never fear. The full content is online on 4oD.