Thinking Inside the Box: Big Fat Gypsy Weddings

Gypsy

There are many times when ‘bigger equals better’. When you make too much brownie mix and have to make a dozen extra ones. When you get an unexpected upgrade from a single to double bed. When you buy the March or September issues of fashion magazines. Gypsy brides and grooms, too, like livin’ it large.

I expected ‘gypsy dress-maker’ Thelma Madine to out-do herself in this second series of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. I anticipated more diamantes, more netting, and a record-breaking seventeen bridal underskirts. But no. The second series (taking its name from one of my top ten favourite films now available in its entirety on YouTube complete with Greek subtitles, FYI) has, dare I say it, disappointed me.

Maybe it’s because my own expectations have been raised. As it so happens, I am being a bridesmaid this year. I’ve never been to a wedding, or a hen do, and the whole preparation process has overwhelmed me in ways I could never have imagined. Have you ever found yourself contemplating whether a deep orchard or Cadbury purple is more suitable for buttonhole flowers? I have. It’s all felt quite inaugural, but I now know what a wedding breakfast is and I’ve perfected my bridesmaid’s photo pose. What more can there possibly be to master?

It’s really not a surprise that the travellers featured go so over the top. Making a cake with so many tiers that half of them have to be made of polystyrene, out of practical necessity, is really just like monogramming your wedding/baptism/first Holy Communion. You can get so many things personalised: your laptop case, towels, nappy bags… why not a wedding? Even world cage fighting champ Tony wanted to specifically “go a more oaky colour” last week, in his quest for the perfect tan. As long as you don’t flash the world your knickers whilst getting into the horse-drawn carriage, there’s no such thing as ‘too big’.

It’s easy to blend into the crowds, all walking around in navy coats and tan coloured chinos. I’ve certainly mistaken my fair share of people. Yelling excitedly across a hundred meters for no less than thirty seconds to a friend seemed like a perfectly normal thing to do, before he approached and it turned out to be someone else wearing a similar hat. (With a group of twelve prospective students bearing witness, laughing like no tomorrow at my unfortunately loud mistake.) “It happens,” grumbled the unperturbed doppel-ganger. This much I know: it’d be hard to mistake a traveller bride. In a high enough density, the colour pink suddenly becomes very visible. I might suggest this potential wardrobe change to my friend, a lover of the monochrome wardrobe.

I’ve had my own personalisation frenzy of late, at none other than a paint-your-own ceramics shop. With two friends, we were quite likely the only non-parent adults there, but after the misrecognition incident I have no shame. Choosing a blank egg cup or three-tier piggy bank is just the beginning. The real freedom lies in painting anything you want whatsoever with no limits of one hundred and forty characters, and no restrictions of ‘only comes in size twenty-two fuschia’. Unbounded possibilities.

Traveller girls would probably love the independence, nothing like the confinement of cleaning their caravans for the fourth time that day before their husbands get home. The prescriptive life of a traveller and marrying outside the community are both issues that Series Two addresses, but as always, the only thing that’s really clear is that we’re not getting the full picture. I’m sure there’s ten times more temper tantrums and thousands of forlorn discarded diamante studs than Channel 4 make us privy to.
And does my bridesmaid dress have diamantes on? I couldn’t possibly say – it’s a Big Fat Secret.

Image – Channel4