Kylie, an eight-year-old bridesmaid, has burnt herself badly on a sunbed and
the best man has thrown a strop over having to wear a pink suit.
As I wipe away Kylie’s tears, another bridesmaid asks me if I can help her
put on her diamante-tipped fake eyelashes while her friend wails that her
fake tan has turned her too orange and she’s going to clash with her baby
pink bridesmaid frock.
In among the frenzy of fake eyelashes, fake tan and total madness of ten
bridesmaids trying to get ready at the same time sits bride Cheyenne
And considering she is only 16, she is remarkably calm.
She hit the headlines when she was shown being “grabbed” by fellow traveller
John McFadyen, 17, at another wedding last year in the C4 show Big Fat Gypsy
Viewers were shocked when Cheyenne, then just 15, was dragged to the dark
corner of a car park where John tried to kiss her.
But it worked and within weeks the couple were engaged. Now it’s the big
day and what a day.
A white stretch Hummer has been ordered for the bridesmaids but there isn’t
going to be room in there for Cheyenne in her big fat wedding dress. So
she’s due to travel to church in a white Rolls-Royce.
She designed her own wedding dress, which features a huge Victorian-style
skirt hoop and three petticoats. The see-through bodice is decorated with
Swarovski crystals, as are the hearts on the billowing skirt.
As she proudly shows off the show-stopping dress, Cheyenne tells me how she
turned down an offer from Thelma Madine, the top gypsy wedding gown maker.
She says: “She called me after she heard I was engaged but I was like, ‘No
thanks!’ I hate her dresses, they’re too sticky-outie.
“So I designed my own and two little old local ladies made it all in a shed in
their garden.” Cheyenne says she is “high maintenance” and that any man
would have to keep her in the style she is accustomed to.
She wanted a white and pink theme for the wedding which is where the best
man trouble comes in. He is still refusing to wear the pink suit.
She says: “He doesn’t like suits and he certainly didn’t want a pink one. But
now he’s only got to wear a pink waistcoat, so he’s agreed.”
Four hairdressers and a make-up artist are battling to get all the girls ready
in time. Even the two-year-old and five-year-old bridesmaids are getting
made up with mascara, lip gloss and loads of glitter.
Baby Doll, five, is busy practising her best Katie Price pose, telling me: “I
love her. I want to be her when I grow up.”
Cheyenne also designed the bridesmaids’ dresses a pretty tutu style for the
younger ones and sexy tight-fitting fish-tailed ones for the older girls.
All of it is accessorised with enough bling to make you wish you’d brought
along a pair of sunglasses.
A huge crowd gathers outside her home and there are at least 1,000 people
waiting to see Cheyenne arrive at St Peter’s Church in Hersham, Surrey.
Cheyenne starts to panic. She says: “I’m not a royal bride, this is crazy.”
Her mum Julie died last year of cancer. Cheyenne is feeling her loss keenly
today and there will be collection buckets at the church in aid of the Royal
Marsden hospital where Julie was treated.
Dad Colin, who has been left to bring up six girls, is trying his best to give
Cheyenne the best big day, which mainly means footing the massive bill.
He tells me: “I’ve got five more of these to go. I think I’m going to have
It’s time to get Cheyenne in her huge dress.
Two of her friends and I battle to get the hoop in place avoiding her double
diamante belly button piercing. Asked if she’s got something borrowed,
something blue and something old, she says: “Only something old my
“I haven’t brought any sexy new ones, so John’s out of luck.”
We struggle to get the super-tight bodice on as Cheyenne shrieks: “I’m going
to faint, I’m going to faint.”
All ready, we are about to go outside when we hit another problem Cheyenne’s
massive dress won’t fit through the front door.
As I push, someone else pulls and finally she pops through.
Outside, we find a livid Colin shouting into the phone: “You don’t know who
you’re dealing with. You’d better have a car here in five minutes.”
It turns out that the Rolls-Royce has been in a smash-up and hasn’t arrived.
Cheyenne bursts into tears.
We wait for over an hour a nervous John paces around at the church while his
mates joke that he has been stood up. I spend my time poking around
underneath Cheyenne’s huge dress trying to get the hoop in the right place
while she wails: “Its all going wrong.”
Finally, Cheyenne arrives at the church in a replacement Rolls-Royce to find
herself in the middle of a paparazzi frenzy and to cheers from the huge
Inside, the congregation consists of women in thigh-split glittering gowns,
skin-tight miniskirts and sky-high stilettos.
One woman called Barbara is wearing a blinged up electronic tag on her ankle
which she tells me “is just an ankle chain”.
Josie who found fame with hubby Swanley on TV has managed to have her tag
removed for the day. It was put on after she was convicted of assaulting a
woman at another wedding.
The blokes in the congregation look like they are wearing their best probation
suits or they have dressed down in tracksuit bottoms and trainers.
At the service the Rev Jonathan Andrew reveals: “The preparations for Cheyenne
and John’s wedding have certainly been interesting!” The congregation cheer
as he adds that John and Cheyenne are by far the youngest couple he has ever
married but he has “no doubt that their marriage will be a success. They
are clearly in love.”
John gives Cheyenne a snog and it is on to the serious part of the proceedings
the reception at a nearby social club.
It is decorated in pink and white, with fake diamonds showered over the
tables. The centrepiece is a massive cake featuring sweeping staircases and
three lit-up fountains.
There is a free bar and lobster at the buffet. Cheyenne grabs a bottle of blue
WKD and starts dancing.
I am challenged to a dance-off by eight-year-old Kylie, who has recovered from
her sunburn, her six-year-old friend and two-year-old Dolly, another
The girls bust moves better than Rihanna and burst out laughing at my feeble
efforts. As Eminem blasts out of the speakers, Kylie tells me: “You gorgas (non-
gypsies) don’t know how to dance!” Josie has dumped their baby on
Swanley and has changed into her evening outfit, an eye-popping tiny bra and
Mayor John Sheldon pops in with his wife Mary and is soon dancing away happily
on the floor with Cheyenne and Josie.
Mary says she thinks the wedding is “absolutely spectacular totally
Apart from the bride and groom’s first dance, the music at the reception is
hip-hop and rap. The kids even the toddlers seem to know every word of
I dance with Cheyenne, who tells me the wedding was “exactly everything I
Married life for her now means settling down in a chalet in the back garden of
her dad’s house, where she will happily spend her life cooking and cleaning
while John goes out to work. Normally, if I had attended a wedding between a
16 and 17-year-old, I would leave feeling depressed and sure that their
marriage would not last.
But with John and Cheyenne I feel there is real hope travellers hold
marriage dear and divorce is rare.
As for the wedding itself, as a huge fan of the Channel 4 series, I was
worried that the real thing would be a let-down. Instead, it was madder than
I could ever have expected and so much fun.
Forget the arguments over seating plans and guest lists that we gorgas
normally have just have a Big Fat Gypsy Wedding instead.
Cheyenne and John’s big day will feature on Big Fat Gypsy Weddings on
Channel 4 on March 27.