When TLC introduced American audiences to the eye-popping U.K. series My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding last spring, more than 45 million viewers (me! me!) tuned in — making international celebrities of fearless dressmaker Thelma Madine, proud Irish Traveller daddy Paddy Doherty, and a bevy of young beauties trundling down the aisle in supersized, one-of-a-kind gowns.
Now the network invites you into the homes and celebrations of some of the estimated 1 million Roma and Travellers who live right here in the U.S., with the eight-episode series My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding. Filmed in West Virginia, Georgia and Maryland, and narrated by “On Air With Ryan Seacrest” radio personality Ellen K, the series will also spotlight over-the-top festivities that go beyond weddings, including a boisterous family reunion, an extravagant vow renewal, a blinged-out baptism (featuring a specially commissioned Swarovski-crystal pacifier) — and even a massive mixer intended to flush out a future fiancé for a 14-year-old girl.
In Madine’s role as the American travellers’ mega-dress and micro-outfit maker of choice is Boston-based Sondra Celli (whose web site is currently curiously void of the flamboyant creations).
Like the U.K. original, the gowns are ginormous, the outfits over-the-top and the dance moves enough to make your mama cry. But the American tempers — ladies included! — make Paddy D. and his Irish bare-knuckle brawlers look like veritable pussycats.
Here’s a taste of what you can expect:
In the April 29 premiere, West Virginia teen Hope is prepping an extravagant party for her 15th birthday, while in Virginia, 17-year-old Shyanne is preparing to wed the boy she agreed to marry the second time they met.
In the second episode, Georgia gypsy “Pat Baby” is working around-the-clock on a Halloween party for more than 300 guests in the hopes of finding a suitor for his daughter, the afore-mentioned 14-year-old Priscilla. But there will be no ordinary costume for Priscilla — she’ll be decked out in a crystal-encrusted dream creation in the hopes of catching the eye of the perfect man.
Season 2 of My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding airs Fridays at 9pm ET on TLC
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding premieres Sunday, April 29 on TLC
Images and Video: ©2012 Discovery Communications