12 Things You’ve Always Wondered About Those Blingtastic Gypsy Wedding Dresses

posted: 03/27/14
by: TLC
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Gypsies call designer Sondra Celli when they need a glam gown.

Gypsy dressmaker Sondra Celli has heard -- and seen -- everything. When gypsies need a party dress or bridal gown, they call Sondra. Every gypsy wants the biggest, most beautiful dress. She wants to be prettier than every bride that came before her and every bride that will come after her. Sondra manages to accommodate by making each dress distinctive and incorporating details that speak to each bride's personality. Gypsy wild child Mellie Stanley got a hot pink gown trimmed in cheetah print. Young singer Jackie D wanted to light up the room on her birthday, so Sondra built her a pair of angel wings that literally illuminated with battery-powered lights.

There's no real secret to gypsy dressmaking. Put simply, "Whoever has the most rhinestones wins," Sondra says. But how expensive are these gowns? How long does it take to make them? And how much do they weigh?

Sondra answers your burning questions about gypsy dresses in this exclusive interview. Read on for more from the queen of bling herself!

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An orange flower detail on a gypsy wedding dress.

How does a gypsy wedding dress differ from your typical wedding gown?

Gypsy wedding dresses usually have more volume in the skirt, incorporate more vibrant colors and are very often packed with more Swarovski crystals than any typical wedding gown.

When it comes to bling, the gypsy wedding dresses I design feature genuine, precision-cut Swarovski crystals. Sequins and plastic stones that are often found on factory-made dresses just don't make the cut. Swarovski crystals add brilliance and movement to a design. When light reflects off the stones, the dress or accessory jumps to life!

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Sondra doesn't just make gowns -- she makes wedding day ensembles with every imaginable accessory.

What are the three defining characteristics of a gypsy wedding dress?

Size, style and Swarovski!

Gypsies love over-the-top dresses, and when it comes to size, bigger is better! When a bride-to-be makes her entrance, she wants all eyes in the room to be on her. (How can you miss anyone wearing a huge gown?) The hour-glass silhouette of these gowns accentuates the figure and reflects not only the ideal princess look that so many young brides want to achieve, but also suggest the young girl is now a woman.

As for style, gypsies love bright colors for their dream dresses and the immensely popular sweetheart neckline and corset top that laces up the back.

Finally, as I always say, "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that bling!" Here's where it's hard to compete with a gypsy bride. She's wearing Swarovski crystals on her gown, shoes, veil, garter, bouquet and accessories.

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The bigger the dress, the more it weighs. Obviously.

How much does a typical gypsy wedding dress weigh?

Gypsy wedding gowns get their volume from lots of material and multiple custom petticoats. Before you even add the crystals (which are stones, don't forget), it's going to weigh quite a bit.

I'd say the average dress weighs about 80 pounds until you pack it in crystals. Then you can probably hit the 100 pound mark -- or higher! When we pack up the dresses for shipping, we have to combine two large boxes and secure them with quite a lot of tape.

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When a bride is fitted at Sondra's, she tries on her dress and all her accessories.

What is the average length of time it takes to create a gypsy wedding dress?

The short answer is that we can accommodate rush orders (and gypsies don't give much advance notice), but it takes a lot of work and a lot of hands to create one of these gowns.

We start by drafting a pattern. Each dress we make is so unique that there are no patterns you can buy at your local fabric store. Then we order in materials overnight and begin to cut the fabric. After that, we sew, assemble and embellish.

Adding the bling is very time-consuming because the stones are applied one by one by hand. I usually put a team of girls on one dress; sometimes, we work from early morning to late at night to get it all done. It's exhausting but the look on the bride's face when she sees her dress for the very first time is worth it all!

I do have to add one very important note here. Most people who call and want me to custom design their prom, quincea?era, bat mitzvah or party dress in less than a week need to understand that I have many orders coming in all at once from all over the world -- and I need advance notice. So, if anyone wants to place an order with me, give me as much time as possible!

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Sondra Celli Q&A

How much does a gypsy wedding dress cost?

My prices start at $5,000 and go up based on design, materials and the amount of bling.

Gypsy wedding dresses packed with crystals and constructed with multiple petticoats, long trains, elaborate veils and matching accessories are even pricier. If the bride is especially creative and wants her dress to light up or to have a special crystal pattern, those factors also contribute to the cost of the dress.

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Gypsies love coordinating outfits -- especially for a double wedding.

Do gypsy brides follow wedding dress trends, or do they make up their own rules when it comes to wedding fashion?

Gypsy brides don't follow trends: they create or combine them to make them their own statement. The great thing about working with my gypsy clients is that they dream big, have wonderfully wild ideas and are always willing to take chances. Also, they listen to my design expertise. I am never bored because each and every order I get is different.

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Sondra's brides sparkle from head to toe in gorgeous accessories.

When a gypsy bride orders her dress, what accessories come with it?

Along with her custom wedding dress, a gypsy bride, like any other bride, wants everything that goes with it to make her day truly special. Shoes are usually blinged out to match the dress, and I'll make coordinating chunky crystal necklaces and bracelets. Gypsy brides normally prefer chandelier earrings over something understated, like studs. For the headpiece, I'll make a tall, ornate crown or tiara and include a long veil with crystal monogram or special motif. Finally, the matching bouquet is equally extravagant and always boasts bling.

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Gypsy wedding dresses are totally unique, but some brides dress with a certain celebrity icon in mind.

Which celebrity style icon do gypsies reference most frequently when ordering their wedding dresses?

It's a surprising combination of legendary Hollywood icons and big-name pop artists. The gypsies I work with tend to love the glamorous styles reflected in the iconic fashions of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. However, they also like the unrestrained styles of Madonna and Katy Perry.

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A white and hot pink wedding dress is gypsy perfection.

Is it more common to make a gypsy wedding dress in white or color? And if color, what's the most popular?

The word "common" will never be used to describe a gypsy wedding dress! Color is key, and I'd say one of the most popular colors is pink -- from neon to bubble gum to every pink hue in between! However, I've also made dresses in navy blue, peach and even a coral and mint combination!

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For best results, ride in a limo.

Gypsy brides seem to have a hard time getting into the vehicles that transport them to their weddings. How do you recommend getting in and out of vehicles while wearing a giant dress?

Make sure you rent a very BIG vehicle and that you have at least two bridesmaids to help you climb inside!

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Sondra loves every dress she designs for her clients.

What is your favorite dress you've ever made for a gypsy bride?

My favorite dress is always the one I'm working on at the time. It's true! I love getting to know the bride and working closely with her on custom designing the dress of her dreams for her big day. Gypsy brides share a number of similarities when it comes to their taste in wedding dresses; however, each bride is unique and wants to bring her own special signature to the design.

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A gorger bride perfects her gypsy style just in time for her wedding day.

Have you noticed any gypsy styles making their way into the mainstream? Which elements of gypsy dresses do you think would be the easiest for a mainstream bride to incorporate into her look?

Gypsy style isn't only mainstream -- it's internationally hot! I recently designed a party dress for a young girl in Holland who wanted a pink gypsy-style dress. To her, that meant a big skirt with lots of bling. I get calls every day from clients wanting gypsy-style dresses to celebrate life's most memorable occasions: first birthdays, communions, bat mitzvahs, proms, quincea?eras and, of course, weddings.

The easiest gypsy element for a mainstream bride to incorporate into her look is bling. Any wedding dress accented with Swarovski crystals will spring to life. Our eyes are drawn to the sparkling stones because they elevate any design. You can use crystals to write a message on your veil like "Happily Ever After" or "Just The Beginning," or create a motif of intertwined hearts or rings. Accenting your shoes with crystals is really simple, and there's no limit to the designs you can create.

Gypsy-inspired bling isn't just for weddings, either. My shop is inundated with orders to bling out shoes, sneakers, iPhones, iPads, pet accessories and more! I just finished blinging out a client's headboard and bedspread. You can take the bling even further with accent pillows and frames.

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