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My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding's Sondra Celli On Rhinestoning 'Everything'

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Image via <a href="http://boston.racked.com/archives/2014/06/12/sondra-celli-gypsy-dress-designer.php">Racked Boston</a>
Image via Racked Boston

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Sondra Celli knows bling. The wedding dress designer behind TLC's My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding creates one of the main attractions of the show—wildly frothy, sparkly, neon-y dresses that are so big that the brides have to be trucked to their weddings. Racked Boston caught up with Celli in her Waltham, Massachusetts studio where she gave a behind-the-scenes look at her business, from the moment the gypsies discovered her to the possible mass-market line in the future.

Celli graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology's first-ever menswear class and moved on to work in New York, Italy and Hong Kong. When the gypsies discovered her, she didn't even know what gypsies were. "They never told me they were gypsies," Celli told Racked. "Within weeks I had orders going to stores all on the same street in the same town. I called a friend who was older than me and she said I was shipping to gypsies in a trailer park; that's why they were all going to the same address."

Image via Racked Boston

Now the gypsies are the core of her business and while they may live in trailer parks, no expense is spared on creating the perfect "crystal couture" gown. Oftentimes, thousands of crystals from old wedding dresses will be ripped off and used again in the next gown. "It could be 15,000 or 20,000 [crystals]," said Celli. "We just did a boy's suit jacket that had 63,000."

Her favorite store is Target and her team can regularly be found hunting around in the "couture department" of Home Depot. Nothing is out of bounds when it comes to the bling possibilities. "We've rhinestoned everything: toilet plungers, paper, pots and pans," Celli told Racked. "A basketball. People ask us to bling everything."

The New England Patriots cheerleading uniform designed by Sondra. Image via

Although her work gets the most recognition through the TLC show, her customers extend well beyond the gypsy core. "Communion, christening, Bat Mitzvah, quinceañeras," said Celli. "I get Italians, Greeks, Lebanese—ethnic groups that love bling." She's even designed a cheerleading outfit for the New England Patriots.

Image via Racked Boston

As for the future, Celli has been mulling plans to move out of the niche market and hit the mainstream consumer, possibly through a future designer collaboration. The only problem is figuring out how to get the price down. "Well, we've already talked to Swarovski and we would use crystal with less facets but still is Swarovski. And I would be very on top of it, "said Celli. "But there are ways to do it for less; we do it all the time. We can't be $500, but we can come down a little bit."

· My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding's Sondra Celli Talks Gowns [Racked Boston]
· Five Reasons It's a Great Time to Be An Alt-Bride [Racked]
· Racked's Wedding Giveaway: Inside the Dreamy Ceremony [Racked]