Brides go gypsy and boofy

By Kathryn Powley

Barbara Williams, 23, chose a wedding dress inspired by Disney fairy tales. Photo / Janna Dixon
Barbara Williams, 23, chose a wedding dress inspired by Disney fairy tales. Photo / Janna Dixon

Watch out New Zealand, gypsy-style wedding gowns are here - complete with huge skirts, big sparkly tiaras and glittery sequins.

The reason for this sudden departure from Kate Middleton-inspired tasteful lacy numbers is the hit British television show Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, which shows the spectacularly over-the-top weddings of Irish Travellers.

On Thursday night it was the most-watched programme on TV with an average audience of 278,600, according to Nielsen audience figures.

When bride-to-be Barbara Williams, 23, decided to marry her sweetheart, Fakaanga Mapa, she knew exactly what she wanted in a dress: "I just want it to be huge."

And just like the gypsy brides from the show, her inspiration came from Disney fairy tales.

"It's one of those childhood things. You grow up watching Cinderella, you want a tiara and to sparkle," she said.

The dress she bought for her January wedding - not the one she wore for our picture - reminded her of marshmallows and pavlovas: "It's a meringue."

But how does one find such a gown? For Williams it was in Henderson at Colleen Aalbers' store, Ballgowns, Bridal and Beyond.

Aalbers said many customers were talking about the show. "Barbara would be one of about three people in the last six weeks that have come in and said, 'I want a big boofy dress.'

"We get these young ladies come in, they want something slinky and slim, then they try on a princess dress and they go, 'Hang on a minute, I want to be princess for a day.'

"I always say, 'You are a bride one day of your life, the rest of it you are a wife'."

Aalbers encourages customers to fulfil their dream on their wedding day.

Auckland Roma gypsy Jiri Demeter said the TV weddings were similar but more extravagant than in his native Czech Republic. But he did concede that puffy dresses were popular in his culture. "The puffier the dress, the wealthier the bride's family," he said.

BIG FAT SPEND-UP

Want your own gypsy wedding? At the minimum you'll need:
* sparkly 'meringue style' gown $2500
* five bridesmaids dresses $10,000
* tiara $150
* gigantic tiered cake $3500+
* horse and carriage $2000
* a reception open to all $15,000+

- Herald on Sunday

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