My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding premiered on TLC tonight. The introduction explained that 200 years ago, Gypsies were forced to leave their European homes to come to America. The most notable thing in the introduction, aside from the historical intro, is that the American Gypsies are very similar to their British and Irish counterparts.
After the introduction, we met Sondra Celli, the American equivalent of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding's Thelma Madine. She is the primary dressmaker for many of the American Gyspies and Travelers.
Next, we met the episode's first bride. Seventeen year old Shyanne, a Romanichal Gypsy, recently got engaged to 18 year old Michael. She doesn't know her fiance well (they've only met twice but dated online), but she's okay with the risk and is excited to marry. Like the girls on the British show, Shyanne commissioned a giant dress for her wedding, and she's remained virginal until her wedding day. In fact, her first kiss will be at the altar.
14 year old Hope is planning a 15th birthday celebration. She wants a big party, regardless of the cost. It was noted that Gypsy girls can't date until engaged, so parties are big news because girls can socialize with boys and may meet their future husbands. Fortunately, Hope's mom Moncella is reasonable - she says this party is not saying her daughter is ready to date and she won't allow the dress to be too revealing. She also wants her daughter to stick to the strict Gypsy culture - no kissing boys until marriage. It was noted that it's common in the Romany culture for girls to run away or elope, and Hope made it clear that she wouldn't be opposed to doing that one day.
We flipped back to Shyanne, and it was revealed that Romany girls are kept in the dark about sex until they're married. Therefore, Shyanne was very nervous about her wedding night. She said that the wedding night isn't the motivator for girls to get married, although she isn't sure about the guys.
At their wedding rehearsal, Chrissy, Shyanne's mom, pulled Michael aside to let him know that he better never hurt Shyanne, and if he has any negative intentions, he better say it now. Fortunately, Michael was sincere about his intentions to marry, so things went smoothly. Chrissy and Shyanne were lucky, apparently, because it was mentioned that Romany men can tend to have bad tempers.
Hope and some cousins (her chaperones) went to the mall, because Gypsy girls can't go out unattended. Hope's allowed to look at guys, but she's not allowed to talk to them. On the flip side, Romany guys are allowed to talk to anyone they want. Because they can't talk to Gypsy girls, they talk to the non-Gypsies.
Hope fits the mold of a Gyspy woman - she aims to marry young and wants to be a housewife and depend on a man. While that idea may seem backwards to traditional Americans, it's a quintessential piece of Gypsy culture.
Michael's family called Shyanne the week before her wedding and said they wouldn't be attending. We then found out that many of Michael's family members won't be attending because they don't approve of the wedding. Some family members threatened to come to
the wedding and jump members of Shyanne's family.
Hope went outside before her party, where onlookers were gathered to see her dress. She seemed to love the attention. She also loved the attention she received from guys at her party. Her mom tried to keep the guys from dancing too close for fear of Hope meeting a guy and running off with him. Hope's dad was also concerned about Hope marrying young. He said she should marry at 30, but if Hope waits until 18 or 19, he'll know he did something right. Unfortunately for her parents, Hope set her sights on 17 year old Romany Gypsy Cole, and the pair exchanged numbers. Cole soon after offered Hope an opportunity to move forward with a relationship, she held back so she could finish school and not disappoint her mom.
Shyanne's wedding day arrived and she was excited to see her carriage outside. Unfortunately, she was running behind schedule and couldn't move quickly in her giant dress. Although Shyanne was late, Michael had a surprise: his mother and sister came to the wedding, despite their earlier protests. Although she arrived 40 minutes late, Shyanne wasn't ready to walk down the aisle - she began to cry tears of nervousness. She also had to use the bathroom, which was no easy task in her wedding dress. Fortunately, at 3 PM, the bride was ready to walk down the aisle. After the vows were spoken, Shyanne had the first kiss that she feared. It was awkward, but she was able to go through with it.
After the wedding ceremony, Shyanne got a surprise - she met her mother-in-law. Fortunately, Michael's mother could see that he's happy and she supported the marriage, although she initially thought Michael married too young. Shyanne and Michael's mothers seem to get along after all was said and done, promising to love the other's child like their own.
Takeaways from the show:
Guests at Shyanne's wedding seemed to be dressed more conservatively than those on the British version of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, although I saw some more revealing outfits in the previews.
The violence in Gypsy culture seems to be shown more prevalently on the American version of this series than the original.
Like with violence, it looks like cattiness will be more of an issue in the American series.
Like the British and Irish Gypsies and Travelers, American Gypsies have very high morals.
The mothers on the American show seem to have more reservations about marrying young than their British counterparts. They also seem to try to keep their kids in school longer, although that could just be an initial impression from the first episode.