You no longer have to runaway to get married at Gretna Green:
We were returning to England from Glasgow when our coach called into Gretna Green, a small village near the Scottish/English border. I have never heard of Gretna Green before, but obviously many runaway couples have as this village was famous for its runaway marriages.
Gretna Green’s History
Why Gretna Green is one of Scotland’s most popular wedding destinations was because of an Act of Parliament passed in 1753. The Act made the legal age of marriage in England 21 years old and if both parties to a marriage were not at least 21 years old, then they had to get parental consent.
This law did not apply to Scotland and it was possible for boys to get married at 14 and girls at 12 years old with or without parental consent. This led to many young couples eloping from England to Scotland and the first Scottish village they came to was Gretna Green.Scottish law at the time also allowed for almost anybody to conduct the marriage ceremony as long as the declaration was made before two witnesses. Gretna’s two blacksmiths’ shops became the main centre for the marriage trade and the blacksmiths in Gretna became known as ‘anvil priests’. The nearby inns and smallholdings became the backdrops for hundreds of thousands of weddings.
The laws changed in 1929 and both parties had to be at least 16 years old but they still did not need parental consent. This compared to England and Wales where couples could get married at age 16 with consent and 18 without.
Getting Married in Gretna Green
Today, Gretna Green remains one of the world’s most popular wedding venues, and couples from all over the world still come for a Gretna Green wedding over the iconic ‘Blacksmith’s anvil’, even though they are not runaways. Several wedding catering businesses have cropped up in and around Gretna Green, that cater to weddings, vow renewals, etc. If you are lucky, you may just get some blue skies, but on the two occasions that we stopped here, it was grey!
At Gretna Green you can visit The World Famous Old Blacksmith’s Shop and see the Marriage Room. There is a shopping centre here which covers 30,000 square feet of shopping space. It includes an impressive Tartan Shop, the Blacksmiths’ Exhibition Shop (where you can purchase smaller gift items to remind you of your visit), the Whisky House, Arts and Crafts Shops and the Border Fine Arts Gallery.
Gretna Green also has a foodhall where you can have freshly made rolls or you can get take-away refreshments and snacks from nearby food outlets or dine at a restaurant.
Gretna Green Hotels
If you are looking for hotels in Gretna Green, Smiths at Gretna Green Hotel, Gretna Hall Hotel and the Gables Hotel are four and three-star hotels close to the famous Gretna Green Blacksmith’s Courtyard. For the complete list of Gretna Green hotels, see Here.
Dumfries & Galloway
From the M74 or A75. Come off at the Gretna/Gretna Green junction and follow the brown tourist signs to the ‘Old Blacksmith’s Shop Visitor Centre’
Trains from Carlisle and Glasgow stop at the Gretna Green station. The visitor centre is a 5 minute walk away.
The ‘Old Blacksmith’s Shop Visitor Centre’ is 90 miles from Glasgow Airport, 70 miles from Newcastle Airport and 150 miles from Manchester Airport.