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Thread: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

  1. #31
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiz View Post
    I just watched the repeats of the first shows this afternoon. I found it very fascinating. Not all of them live in the tiny caravans, but it appears that many of them do. The girls seem to have extensive wardrobes. Besides the humongous first communion and wedding dresses, they have dresses for the numerous weddings they attend. I wonder where they store everything. They do make up for the gigantic dresses with skimpy next to nothing everyday wear.
    I can't believe I never thought of that. Where do they keep those huge wedding gowns afterwards? Or do they just not keep them? And if they don't, what do they do with them? Is there a market for used gypsy wedding dresses? I'm not being facetious--I know some people do sell their wedding gowns, so I guess travelers could too.

  2. #32
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Tilden, now I'm wondering if they don't rent a big warehouse space for all their fancy clothes or maybe they do sell them. I don't think one of those wedding dresses would even fit in those tiny trailers.
    You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style. ~Humbert

  3. #33
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Where do they keep those huge wedding gowns afterwards? Or do they just not keep them? And if they don't, what do they do with them?
    Dismantled and sold for parts?

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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Quote Originally Posted by MizDaisy View Post
    Dismantled and sold for parts?
    Those crazy wedding dresses could go for both software and hardware at the local discount store.
    You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style. ~Humbert

  5. #35
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    I thought that the ones that have the humongous dresses have families that live in houses, not RVs. Mom/Dad probably keep the dresses for them. Maybe.
    "Quotes on the internet may not be accurate." - Abraham Lincoln

  6. #36
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Quote Originally Posted by mom2 View Post
    I thought that the ones that have the humongous dresses have families that live in houses, not RVs. Mom/Dad probably keep the dresses for them. Maybe.
    I'm kind of tired and have been having some eyestrain issues (I'm waiting on new glasses), and I swear when I first read this message, I somehow read it as families living in the dresses themselves. Got this weird mental image of huge chiffon gypsy tents going now... I like the idea of them being dismantled and sold for parts, however. A lot of them do look somewhat alike, so maybe that's what happens to them. I can't imagine saving them, unless some girls are married in their mother or grandmother's dresses. The impression they were giving was that every girl wanted her own specially designed dress, but I don't know whether that's accurate or not.

    I did a little checking on the connection between Travelers and the Catholic Church, just because I was curious. I'm not Catholic, but I went to a Catholic college, and I've always had Catholic friends, so I was wondering about things like premarital counseling with the priests (I think they were called pre-Canaan classes or something like that at one point), Sunday school, confirmation classes etc., given that the Travelers seem to want to stay separate and given the really young ages of some of those brides. Didn't find much out on that account, but I did find a site that indicated that the gender separation is evident in religion too. If what I read is accurate, the men show up for major holidays and major events (like first communions), but the women are more likely to be the ones in church on a weekly, even daily basis. The particular site I looked at said that the most popular subjects for intercessions on the part of Traveler women are that their daughters get married, that their married daughters get pregnant, that their men stop drinking. The drinking is a big issue because of the mobility of the Travelers and how often the men's occupations involve driving. The site didn't say this, but I also immediately started thinking about the combination of the bare knuckle fighting and alcohol. That can't be good. Made me worry, too, about whether there might be women in those trailers scared about their husbands coming home drunk and whaling away on them, particularly given the attitude some of the grooms had about "owning" their women. I'm not suggesting Travelers or Roma are more likely to be abusive, since there's plenty of spousal abuse going on in supposedly nice, traditional homes. I just wonder if the Traveler/Roma women are in a particular bind if they are in an abusive situation, since they would be trapped in a small trailer with their abusers and may not even be aware of what agencies are available to help them--and might not trust them if they were aware of them.

  7. #37
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    mom2, that's a good point about the parents possibly keeping the very large dresses we saw (and to Tilden's point, if they're kept at all). If I remember correctly, at least the two girls (and sadly, they were only girls, in my opinion, at 16/17) who were married wearing the largest dresses did have parents who lived in houses. The one girl wasn't a Traveller. At least a couple of girls with the big first communion dresses lived in the tiny caravans though. I know it's not a big issue, and you never know about reality TV slight of hand (maybe those dresses are often passed from girl to girl, for instance, rather than specialty made).

    Tilden, I really appreciate you sharing the information you found about the Travellers and the Catholic church. I was really very curious about those very same issues. I married in the Catholic church and later became Catholic and our children were baptized in the church, although my husband, children and I are now Lutheran, so I was wondering as I watched the program just how they might manage the premarital/baptismal/first communion classes and church attendance that we were required. We didn't make it as far as the baptism classes with our children before we became Lutheran, but the class requirements are very similar. Confirmation classes was a big one lasting two to three years. I wonder how that's handled too, or if they're able to fulfill the requirements another way.

    I can't get over their very diligent lifestyle of keeping their girls "pure" until marriage, while on the other hand, dressing even their very young girls in clothes fit for a prostitute (if you haven't seen the show, skimpy doesn't even come close to describing it) with full makeup to match. The girls (at least as young as six) would put dancers you see on MTV to shame with their moves). It's an interesting juxtaposition.

    Also, Tilden, you brought up the violence and alcohol. It did appear that alcohol fueled the flames, so to speak. A few girls and women talk about spousal abuse, which seemed to be an ugly issue in their community.
    You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style. ~Humbert

  8. #38
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Tilden, I really appreciate you sharing the information you found about the Travellers and the Catholic church. I was really very curious about those very same issues. I married in the Catholic church and later became Catholic and our children were baptized in the church, although my husband, children and I are now Lutheran, so I was wondering as I watched the program just how they might manage the premarital/baptismal/first communion classes and church attendance that we were required. We didn't make it as far as the baptism classes with our children before we became Lutheran, but the class requirements are very similar. Confirmation classes was a big one lasting two to three years. I wonder how that's handled too, or if they're able to fulfill the requirements another way.

    I'm Lutheran myself, so I totally understand what you're saying, and because of my Catholic friends (including a number of college professors who were nuns or priests), I know the requirements for confirmation and marriage by a minister or priest in a Lutheran or Catholic church are similar (or at least they are in the ELCA; there are a number of Lutheran synods, but the ELCA is the one I'm familiar with, and it's the largest). Lutheran and Catholic kids don't get first communion without instruction of some kind. Confirmation doesn't happen without multiple years of instruction. And, as someone with generations of Lutheran ministers in the family history, I'm definitely sure that pre-marital counseling sessions/classes are a requirement in the majority of Lutheran churches (and Catholic friends have assured me it's the same in their church). Most ministers also are pretty careful to ask about wedding music, readings etc., often because of problems they've encountered in the past. For instance, one minister I know had quite the tussle with a young woman who wanted a "Disney princess" wedding; she didn't seem to understand that you can't just use copyrighted images on your invitations, programs etc. without putting yourself (and potentially the church) at risk. I know another pastor who makes sure that all wedding and funeral music is all religious in nature after an embarrassing situation at a funeral when the soloist, in full cowboy gear, put his booted, spurred foot up on the casket before launching into "Home on the Range." His basic rule is that secular music is fine at receptions, but not at actual services, as he's found that particular rule just saves a lot of trouble.

    They haven't said much about music, vows etc. at these weddings, but some of the attire of the female guests might certainly raise eyebrows as being inappropriate at many churches. Most of the wedding dresses, while ridiculously poufy, IMO, aren't inappropriate, but I could see some ministers/priests wondering if the the overly fussy first communion outfits were really in the spirit of the moment, as it's meant to be a moment about the sacrament, not a fashion show (and I can totally hear some priests/ministers saying that--not to mention what a lot of female Lutheran ministers would have to say about the inherently sexist attitudes that might come up during premarital classes, though, obviously, traditional Travelers wouldn't be Lutheran, nor would they likely have anything to do with female clergy). As for the grooms showing up with beers in their hands, having obviously been drinking before the wedding...at most ELCA churches I've been to, no alcohol is allowed, even at receptions held at the churches, beyond communion wine. Besides, if anyone's been drinking before a wedding ceremony, I should think that might cast doubts on whether the marriage would be legal, as one of the parties involved would be entering into the arrangement while under the influence.

    I'm still curious about what would happen if a Traveler child expressed a wish to be a nun or a priest too. If they're devout Catholics, you'd think they'd approve, but it would definitely mean that child would be leaving the culture--and that any young woman wishing to enter a religious order would definitely not be marrying (except the symbolic marriage to Christ) or having children.

  9. #39
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Just found a master's thesis on-line that was written by a Catholic priest (though not a Roman Catholic priest) about American Irish Travelers. He has officiated at blessings of Traveler marriages. According to him, at least in the U.S., priests of the Roman Catholic church are not allowed to officiate at a blessing of a Traveler wedding and they are definitely not allowed to officiate at a wedding ceremony of same. I did not read the entire thesis (it's 74 pages long, and I'm waiting on new glasses), but the few pages I did read indicated that Irish Travelers have civil ceremonies which are followed by a blessing by a priest who is not Roman Catholic. The author of this piece is Old Catholic, not Roman Catholic. Roman Catholic churches will, however, rent out their facilities for these ceremonies.

    Not sure why there's a ban on actual Traveler weddings, because I haven't read the whole thesis, but my first impression is that it may have to do with a number of things. First, one couple that was turned down, despite having been baptized and confirmed by the Roman Catholic Church, involved a fifteen year old bride and a twenty-two year old groom. If they did go through any kind of pre-Canaan counseling, the priest in question might not have been comfortable with the girl being so young and perhaps unrealistic about what the marriage would entail. Second, if they truly were travelers in the sense of being itinerant, they may not have been in one place long enough for pre-Canaan counseling or for the priest to know them well enough to know whether they were good candidates for marriage or not.

    I did notice a reference to Irish Travelers in the U.S. being concentrated primarily in the southern states, though there was a comment made about Ohio Travelers too. I wonder if that has to to do with the weather. I would think it would be harder to be living as a mobile, trailer-dwelling community in areas where the winters can be harsh or the climate can be more extreme in general. The author also mentioned that part of it may have to do with the marriage rules in some Southern states allowing for marriages between younger people with or without the parents' permission and that the laws about marriages between cousins or second cousins vary from state to state and the laws in some Southern states are more closely aligned with the cultural mores of the Travelers. Also, there was a quote from one traveler woman who said that spousal abuse is rare, because they live so closely together as family units that everyone knows everyone else's business and they will not tolerate "their daughters" being abused. If a woman is abused, her husband will be "talked to" by the other men in the community. I didn't find that especially comforting myself, because it still puts all the power in the hands of the men of the community, not to mention the fact that the men seem inclined to settle their disagreements with their fists. What's to prevent the guy who is "talked to" from going back home and taking out his anger on being "talked to" on his wife or kids? They definitely are very, very opposed to divorce, so the woman is kind of stuck. They also tend not to trust those outside the community, aside from nuns or priests, so unless they go to a church-related agency, they have few alternatives for help.

    Oh, and I thought this was interesting: in the American Traveler community, more young women are actually marrying outside of the group, simply because there are more women than men in the community and the choice may come down to remaining single or getting married and having a family, which their community emphasizes is extremely important for women.

  10. #40
    Kiz
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    Re: My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

    Tilden, thank you so much for sharing your research. I'm also astounded at some of the questions that you've raised, because I was wondering about as well. I didn't write it my last post, but I was also curious about Travellers becoming nuns or priests and if it was acceptable in their culture. It sounds like they've historically not only lived on the fringe of society but also on the fringe of the church as well. As they begin to settle in one place, partially due to laws that make it hard for them to lead a nomadic lifestyle, I wonder if they'll begin to conform.

    The women really don't have anywhere to go, except maybe back to their parents, if they are in an abusive relationship, let alone if they've made a bad choice in choosing a lifelong mate at such an young age. They have very little education, and are not allowed to work outside the home the day they're married. Like you said, it's nice to say that the community would deal it, but it seems frightfully patriarchal, and the men are proudly violent in nature. Which reminds me of My Big Fat Greek Wedding when the mom said the dad was the "head" of the house, but she was the "neck", so maybe the men aren't as in charge as they might think.

    Speaking of the clothes the women wore to church, if you watch Real Housewives of NJ, you would have seen some rather risqué dresses on the women at a child's baptism. They weren't to the degree of the young girls on this show, but they were better suited, and wouldn't have raised an eyebrow, for a nightclub rather than religious ceremony. My husband comes from an Italian Catholic family, and I've never seen anything like it in real life. Which makes me wonder how much of this show is for shock value, and that they picked specific families that are somewhat out of the norm.

    (I did need to make a correction to my last post but it's past my edit time. Not that it matters, but I meant to say we became Lutheran just prior to time for first communion classes with my oldest child. My children were baptized in the Catholic church. We're also in the ELCA.)
    You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style. ~Humbert

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