Gypsy Wedding

In Brighton Weddings, East Sussex, Wedding Stories by Stephen Cousins

My first travellers gypsy wedding as official wedding photographer was an experience and a half! Crystal and Charlie married in Hove, but for a time it looked like it might not happen!

Holiday Inn Brighton

The wedding was organised by Crystal’s mum, Maria, with whom I met a few days before the wedding. We planned to meet at the Holiday Inn, Brighton prior to the ceremony to photograph the bride leaving and getting in the car. Crystal was so nervous she could hardly breathe. I did my best to help her relax but a cigarette did the job far better than I.

The dress filled the back seats of the old Beauford car which set of to drive Crystal to the church at 2:30pm. The ceremony was due to start at 3pm. I arrived at 2:45, but by 3pm there was still no one in the church. The vicar had assumed the wedding was not going ahead as he had not had any official documents from the couple.

Is the Groom Coming?

By 3:15 guests were beginning to arrive and the Bride had arrived, but there was no sign of a Groom! Maria took it all in her stride and appeared perfectly calm and confident that Charlie would arrive, despite the vicar saying, “He’s not coming is he?”. His mobile phone was turned off and we waited for what seemed like an eternity for news. This particular gypsy wedding nearly never took place! However at 3:30pm Charlie turned up saying he’d been stuck in traffic.

The Catholic church on Portland Road is a red brick building which looks rather unimpressive from the outside, but very impressive on the inside. The ceremony itself was an extremely relaxed affair. Friends and family chatted away and children played in the aisle during the service. There were no hymns. I was able to get very close to Charlie and Crystal during the ceremony, which is sometimes frowned upon in Catholic churches, I hear. That said, it was rather dark up by the alter and I was glad of my fill in flash which became less fill in and more main light.

Gypsy Wedding

Because of the relaxed nature of the wedding, the group shots were taken right outside the church. The weather was not great and so spending time going down to the seafront or walking to a park were not options that appealed to many! Still, there was no shortage of colour because, as we know from Big Fat Gypsy Wedding the dresses worn are spectacular, flamboyant and bright. Crystal informed me that they had been offered quite a sum of money to appear on the Big Fat Gypsy Wedding tv show, but they had turned it down. They feel the show has done more harm than good to the traveller community. Crystal and her family are Romany Travellers and they could not have been more hospitable to me.

The reception was held back at the Holiday Inn where I juggled between being a wedding videographer and a wedding photographer to capture the first dance and cutting of the cake. The children were great fun, always striking poses whenever the camera was pointed at them. I got some great portrait style shots. All in all, a rather bizarre start to the proceedings but a fun days shooting and I will be very happy to do another Gypsy Wedding in the future.