Gypsy Romany caravan restored

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A Real Gypsy Wedding.

Anyone watch “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding”?

Anyone wonder if the show is actually representative of the traditional Gypsy culture and W-day styling?

I have. And so did Rock My Wedding sponsors Christian and Erica from Christian Ward Photography. So much so in fact that they researched the subject to create a beautiful inspiration shoot based around original Romany traditions and recommendations from real-life travellers themselves.

This is truly a fascinating read as well as a deliciously whimsical dose of pretty, not to mention offering a plethora of ideas for your own Big Day. These are without doubt some of the most delectable vintage-inspired accessories and gowns I have ever seen. And it makes a nice change to feature some gorgeous ideas for your Groom too.

You may have seen a selection of these images in a recent edition of YAYW magazine, congratulations to the team behind the shoot for going all out glossy – you deserve it.

Enjoy lovelies.

Christian and Erica: We’d been looking to carry out a creative shoot for some time, though we were wanting to create something based on an original theme where there would be a story. We admit to having watched a few episodes of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, and for me that was the spark that set light to the idea of a creative shoot inspired by a gypsy theme.

I had always thought that the picture painted by the TV show was most likely far-fetched and not representative of the gypsy culture, and so I began to research gypsy weddings not of the Big Fat type but of times gone by. The idea for the shoot for me always centred on being able to find an original Romany gypsy wagon, and this proved difficult as did finding much information about old-fashioned gypsy weddings.

Eventually we managed to locate 2 or 3 wagons across the UK, but in each case there was something that wasn’t ideal about each of them and didn’t quite match up to the picture I had in my mind. By chance I stumbled across a website for a gypsy wagon restorer, and I sent them a quick email to see if they could help us, not really expecting to hear back. A week passed and I had given up on that avenue when an email came through late one Saturday night just saying that they could help and to give them a call. I called them back straight away, and the following morning we were setting off at 8am for the 2 hour drive to Blackpool to see Walter – the real, bone fide gypsy- and the 2 wagons he had in mind.

It transpired that Walter and his family are the most revered restorers of Romany wagons internationally, and as we sat over a cup of tea in their kitchen we looked through photos of him with Ronnie Wood (who is actually descended from Romany blood) who had just bought a restored wagon from him.

We also took the opportunity to talk to Walter and his wife Mary about traditional gypsy weddings, and within minutes they’d found a fascinating old leather-bound album full of black and white family photos from gypsy weddings, and so we began to form a picture of what a REAL gypsy wedding would’ve looked like. Walter took us though to his barn, and it was an exciting moment to come face to face with what would become the centrepiece of our shoot- a gorgeous, original ‘Doors & Windows’ Romany caravan, hand-carved and covered in gold leaf.

We finished the day by strolling across the land that Walter and his family owned, as he had agreed that when the time was right for us we could carry the shoot out anywhere on his land and they would set us up with everything we needed. A special mention must go to Walter and Mary for being so welcoming and helpful, despite their initial reservations given the perception of gypsy weddings created by the TV show.

With the main ‘prop’ arranged, we then set about properly forming the theme. Gypsy, Romantic, Country, Folk, and Whimsical were at the top of our list of what wanted to achieve with our styling. The next few weeks were spent researching and liaising with suppliers across the UK who we felt fitted with our theme and who we would be interested in working with on the shoot.

I have to say that without fail all the suppliers we worked with were absolutely brilliant and we feel really lucky that we managed to assemble such a great list of suppliers who fitted so well with what we wanted to achieve, and who trusted us to look after their valuable stock (and in some cases one-off, irreplaceable pieces) and to create something worthwhile. We would happily recommend any of them to brides and grooms planning their wedding.

While bringing together the many different articles of original vintage clothing and props, we also had to set about finding 2 models. For us, despite many creative shoots being only ‘bridal’, we knew we always wanted to go the ‘whole hog’ and have both a model bride and groom to complete our picture. For the bride to be in-keeping with the Romany look we needed somebody with dark hair and a light complexion, whilst for the groom, our main criterion was for hair not cropped too short. This actually proved quite difficult as the majority of male models we came across had short hair cropped in a very modern style that would’ve been difficult to create something convincing with on the day.

We eventually found two amazing models who were perfect for our theme. The only problem we came across was trying to find vintage clothing to fit a male model standing 6ft 3″ tall…most vintage clothing is of fairly small proportions, but Denise at Vintage Whistles was great at finding what we needed!

Flo and Percy designed and created original pieces to match the vintage dresses that Helena from Heavenly Vintage Brides had kindly agreed to supply us with, and once our shoot team was complete with make-up and hair stylists, we set about a styling session to bring together every item and decide on the final ‘looks’ that we’d be using on the day.

The day of the shoot finally came and we could not have asked for better weather. It was a pretty cold day in March but with gorgeous early Spring light and we all worked together brilliantly as a team…definitely a day to remember!

And if you lovelies have been admiring the Flo and Percy headpieces here are the finer details should you fancy making a purchase for W-day:

Authentic gypsy wagon – adzlee@btinternet.com

Vintage Wedding Dresses – Heavenly Vintage Brides

Vintage Headpieces – Flo and Percy

Crockery – Felicity’s Vintage Tea Party

Blooms – The Blossom Tree

Make-up Artist – Gemma Lees

Hair Stylist – Emma Buck

Boutonnieres – D C Bouquets

Cakes – Rachel Edwards

Vintage Suitcases – Fountain Pen Emporium

Bridal Knitwear – Makepiece at Evangeline Rose

Groom’s Vintage Suits – Vintage Whistles

Stationery – Tim Ward Design

Wedding Favours – Vintage Twee

Models – Cirila Zorenc and Charles Durnian at Model Mayhem

Photography and Styling – Christian and Erica at Christian Ward Photography

That lace and pearl headband rocks my world…. and the knitwear? so delicate and feminine.

This is a truly beautifully styled shoot and I would love to see a W-day with similar design aspects and muted colour scheme grace these pages one day.

So if you’re planning on a gypsy-esque affair make sure you send it in ok?

Big Romany Love

Charlotte xxx

P.S I know I’m married and all but I’m allowed to say how much the groom has (ahem) brightened up my Monday afternoon right?