Irish Traveller brides spend the most on their big, fat weddings
IRISH Traveller brides are more extravagant than newlyweds from any other community, according to a popular dressmaker.
Thelma Madine, who owns Nico, the dress shop often featured on Channel 4's Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, has revealed that her Irish clients are always more imaginative than her other customers.
The Liverpool-based businesswoman admitted that her most "outrageous" order so far -- dresses shaped like a palm tree and a pineapple -- had been ordered by a young woman from the Republic.
"Irish Travellers are a lot more flamboyant than the English Travellers. It's all to do with pride, and it's like that thing, 'look at us we're doing well. My husband does well he looks after me. And this is what he can do, he can dress us like this' -- because the outfits aren't cheap," she said.
"And if there's ever an unusual request, where you sort of sit back and go, 'oh right, okay' and you do it -- that's usually an Irish Traveller who wants to have something that nobody else has ever had."
Thelma admitted that she was taken aback when 21-year-old Dolores Quilligan ordered two Spanish-inspired confections for celebrations before the wedding.
"I've got to be honest -- when they said a palm tree and a pineapple, it was a bit 'now you're going too far', but when you see it, it looks quite nice," Thelma said.
She added: "We think of Travellers as being unconventional, unpredictable and uncontrollable, probably.
"Usually people have restrictions on what they want or what they can wear or what they can do -- not them."
The dressmaker has become so popular since the series started that she has moved to a bigger studio.
Her clients contact her from as far as the US and her workshop has been so busy that she has brought onboard 10 young dressmakers, whom she is training.
Thelma will be releasing her autobiography, Tales Of The Gypsy Dressmaker, on March 1 where she will reveal some of the incredible requests she has had -- including a dress with 57,600 Swarovski crystals, and 107ft train.
A television insider revealed that she would be featured extensively in this season of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings.