The show opened by explaining the two main types of Gypsies in the US: Roma, from Romania, and Romanichal, from England in the 1800s.
Pete & Amber
In this episode, a pair of Gypsies from each culture got engaged, but this is stickier than it sounds. Amber, 17, the Romanichal girl, and her fiance Pete, 23, had problems before their marriage even began - the groom's family didn't approve of the marriage, and Amber's family refused to comply with Roma traditions, like taking a dowry for the marriage. Additionally, Amber went with a big wedding dress like she wanted, even though big dresses are not part of the Roma tradition. And her dress was big - the train was half the size of a football field!
Amber's family did agree to one Roma ritual - a ceremony where the bride's hand is asked in marriage. Because the dowry was denied, Pete's family refused to attend. During this ceremony, Pete asked for Amber's hand in marriage, he gives her a ring and a coin necklace (or so it seemed) and drank the wine. Amber's mom, Sugar, asked Pete what is his intentions are and made it clear that he better never lay a hand on her, which is important given the fact that we've heard of abuse in Gypsy culture.
Trouble continued at the wedding rehearsal - Pete's family didn't show up...or so he thought. At the last minute, Pete's mom showed up.
The day of the wedding didn't go smoothly either for Amber - her dress was missing a hook. Pete's day went better - he got ready and completed the tradition called "the knocking", in which Pete knocks on his bride's door to get her for the wedding. As tradition states, each other woman came out first, until the bride finally stepped out to meet her groom. Then, the groom's mom spun her around three times for luck.
Apparently the luck didn't stick, as Amber found gum in the train of her dress, and the train actually disconnected from the dress as she walked down the aisle. And Pete's mom was the only person in Pete's family to show up for the wedding.
Amber's family planned to make some calls to get Pete's family to attend the wedding reception, and it worked. Pete's sisters showed up, despite their dad's wishes. A wedding tradition is for the groom to dance with his sisters, and he forgot. So the sisters got drunk and angry. They called their brothers, who showed up, and Amber's cousin got jumped. The cops were called. After all was said and done, Amber said, "F*** your family, I'm your wife now," which apparently didn't have a negative effect because we were left with the couple being lovey-dovey before sharing their first night together.
The Jeffrey Family
The other featured family were Romanichal Gypsies that live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The family, the Jeffrey family, were dad Curtis, mom Mary, daughter Mary, son Beau and daughter Cassie. (I'm guessing on some spellings, please forgive any mistakes.) Cassie participates in beauty pageants against non-Gypsies in order to build work ethic, according to her dad. Grandma (called Meemaw) creates all of Cassie's outfits. The whole family attends the pageants and wears their coin jewelry for good luck.
We learned that in Romanichal culture, certain animals' names can not be spoken - specifically monkeys - because they're a bad omen. The family won't even say the word monkey.
Because they don't want their daughter changing clothes in front of others, they created a private, portable dressing room to bring to pageants. This theory wasn't accepted by all kids and parents - they seemed to think socializing with the other kids was important, whereas the Jeffrey family was more interested in winning. (And Cassie did win, by the way!)
Next, we met Pastor Anthony, who lives in South Chicago, Illinois who told us that 9 out of 10 Gypsies are going to hell because of their crooked businesses. He said he, like many others, had scammy businesses, and he and his wife used to even scam together. Eventually they were convinced of crimes and repented. Anthony is afraid that his son David (who was about to turn 15) will take his life in a negative direction, and hopes to find a good wife for him before he meets a negative person. Anthony and wife Gina talked to their son about the fact that they'd like to set him up with a girl, pay the dowry, and introduce the pair right before their wedding. David wasn't interested in that - he wanted to meet a girl on his own. If that was the case, Anthony would have to approve of her. At David's 15th birthday party, mom Gina actually pushed girls away from David because they didn't want the girls to think a proposal was coming when it wasn't.
And that was it for episode one of this season of My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding. It's sure to be an interesting season!
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