How those 20st wedding gowns have made Gypsy dressmaker her fortune

Weighing 20 stone or more and covered in mechanical butterflies and flashing hearts, the wedding dresses featured in Big Fat Gypsy Weddings  cost as much as £50,000 and can leave their wearers with scars they regard as a badge of honour.
Dressmaker Thelma Madine, 59, is behind the outlandish creations and has become such a star she has her own spin-off show in the pipeline.
Dubbed the Elizabeth Emanuel of the gypsy world, she is the only designer for traveller brides who want to make a show-stopping entrance.
There is little doubt Thelma is now making a fortune. She began dressmaking 16 years ago after a divorce.
She sold christening outfits at a Liverpool market while claiming benefits and was jailed after being convicted of false accounting in 2001.
The judge accused her of using the money to fund her ‘lavish lifestyle, expensive flat and BMW car’.
‘I did four months but it was the making of me,’ she has insisted. ‘I’m not proud of what I did but I learned when I was inside not to judge. That’s why I’m supportive of travellers.’
After her release, her work became popular with traveller families and eventually she was asked to make a wedding dress with a 200ft train.
Her business took off and she opened her Liverpool shop, Nico’s, now the favoured destination for young gypsy brides-to-be.
‘They all want something better than anyone else’s dress,’ says Thelma.
Wedded to fantasy: Thelma Madine puts the finishing touches to bride Bridget's lavish dress
Wedded to fantasy: Thelma Madine puts the finishing touches to bride Bridget's lavish dress
Big and bold: The girls take great pride in their lavish wedding dresses
Big and bold: The girls take great pride in their lavish wedding dresses
Among her most famous creations have been a 20st dress covered in fairy lights worn by Sam Norton, one of the brides featured in the first series of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, and another for tiny Carly O’Brien, weighing 25st and consisting of 30,000 Swarovski crystals, 400ft of silk and 5,250ft of tulle. Ten guests had to push her up the aisle.  
Most of the weight of the dresses is borne by the girls’ hips, which are scarred as a result of the boning cutting into their flesh.
Most brides wrap themselves in bandages to make the dresses less painful to wear, but the series has spawned the catchphrase ‘The more bleeds, the better the dress’.


Bargain Designer Wedding Dresses

Axia Taverna in Tenafly is offering a Greek dinner paired with Greek wines, presented by Greek cuisine expert Diane Kochilas and Axia chef Alex Gorant at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Satin-Back Taffeta V-Neck A-Line Sleeveless Wedding Dress with Chapel Train AB8679

* Bargain wedding dresses: Now that Running of the Brides is gone, where will you go for bargain designer wedding dresses? Nordstrom Rack at Bergen Town Center is having a bridal bash today, where you can get dresses by designers like Tadashi Shoji and Nicole Miller at up to 75 percent off. Visit bergentowncenter.com for more information. LordandTaylor.com is also having an online "Clicking of the Brides" sale through Sunday.
* Prom dress models needed: Lord & Taylor is looking for models for its 2012 Prom Fashion Show. High school junior and senior girls are welcome to come by the store today to apply. Teens must be accompanied by their parent or guardian and should bring one current color full-length photo or head shot. Casting call will be held at Garden State Plaza from noon to 2 p.m.; Ridgewood Fashion Center from noon to 2 p.m.; Willowbrook Mall from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The annual Prom Fashion Show will be held on March 24. For more information, visit lordandtaylor.com/promevent.
* Private shopping party: Madewell at The Mall at Short Hills is hosting a private shopping party from 6 to 8 p.m. Sundayto benefit the Make A Wish Foundation. Customers will receive 20 percent off purchases of $125 or more and receive a Madewell signature gift with purchase. Ten percent of sales during the event will go to the Make A Wish Foundation; refreshments will be served. Visit the store before the event to receive the invite.


T-Ara Hyo Min's Wedding Dress - Fu Xin Bo Disapproves!

On the 25th of February, a special episode of "We're Married was aired. The episode featured T-Ara's Hyo Min and Super Junior Gyu Hyun.
Hyo Min and her pretent husband Fu Xin Bo visited a wedding dress shop to pick out a dress. Hyo Min first tried on a long elegant wedding gown and appeared in front of her pretend husband. Fu Xin Bo responded, "So beautiful!" and couldn't take his eyes off of her. He even started to take photos of her.
Continuing on her search for the perfect wedding dress, she tried on another dress. This time it was a very short modern wedding dress. When she appeared for Fu Xin Bo's approval, his face expression changed and seemed to disapprove.
This day, to honor the 20th anniversary of the Chinese version of "We're Married" an episode of T-Ara Hyo Min and Super Junior Gyu Hyun's pretend marriages in China were aired.