BIG Fat Gypsy Wedding dress designer Thelma Madine was on our television screens again on Tuesday in a new show featuring her work with the traveller community.
Channel Four programme My Big Fat Gypsy Christmas followed Ormskirk-based Thelma and her assistant Pauline as she was invited to two gypsy weddings in Rathkeale in Ireland.
The show featured the marriages of two brides that Thelma had designed dresses for.
The bridal gown for Charlene, 18, was the biggest Thelma had made this year.
According to the programme more than a mile of fabric was used in making her bridal gown.
Seventeen-year-old Lavinia was marrying 24-year-old Edward. Her dress was held up by more than 20 underskirts.
At the start of the programme narrator Barbara Flynn explained that many of the estimated 23,000 travellers in Ireland travel abroad most of the year. But couples come back to Rathkeale in the South West of Ireland every Christmas to get married.
Thelma told the programme this time of year is very busy: “Most weekends I sleep here (at her shop) I don’t go home over the weekend there’s that much to get out.
“We have done wedding dresses for travellers for years. We used to get orders for dresses to be picked up November and December without knowing why. The traveller community like to keep everything hidden. This is the first time we have been invited to Rathkeale for weddings.”
The programme shows Thelma in Lavnina’s house putting the finishing touches to her dress.
Thelma also goes along to the church and helps the teenager out of her horsedrawn carriage.
She can also be seen helping Lavnia with her dress and was particularly proud of that creation. She told the programme: “They all really loved the dress. They say they have never seen anything like it in their lives. She does look amazing.”
Thelma’s efforts to create the dream dresses for the gypsy brides are usually featured in the series my Big Fat Gyspy Wedding.
Tuesday’s show also featured many people who have been on previous shows including Celebrity Big Brother winner Paddy Doherty as he spent Christmas with his wife Roseanne.
Young couple Josie and Charnley are also on the show and viewers learn they are expecting their first baby.