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Wander Lord

Interesting on art, nature, people, history

Britain’s Wedding Capital

Britain’s Wedding Capital

Britain’s Wedding Capital


There is a small village on Scotland’s border with England. Thousands of people travel to it every St Valentine’s Day. Some people get married there and many couples go through mock wedding ceremonies to “renew their marriage vows”. This village, Gretna Green, is sometimes called Britain’s wedding capital.
Its romantic reputation began 250 years ago. In 1754, English Parliament passed a law banning young people under the age of twenty – one to get married without their parents’ permission. In Scotland, however, this law did not apply. Traditionally, a man and a woman over the age of sixteen could get married by declaring themselves husband and wife in front of two witnesses.
So, young couples under 21 flee to Scotland. And the first village on the Scottish side of the border was Gretna Green. Early Gretna runaways got married in the local Blacksmith’s Shop. Gretna’s blacksmith was the most important person in the village and Scotland’s marriage law allowed any responsible adult to conduct wedding ceremonies.

The ceremony was short and simple. The young people were asked their names and addresses, asked if they were single and if they were both there of their own free will. On their “yes” answers, blacksmith filled out the certificate and proceeded to the heart of the ceremony including the groom placing a ring on his bride’s left hand, and an admonition, “What God joins together let no man put asunder.” Then he declared the couple husband and wife.
The weddings in Gretna Green became so popular that the blacksmith could no longer satisfy the demand on his own and the village had to get more “priests”. And if a couple had come unaccompanied, the witnesses were quickly found. One of the last “priests”, Richard Rennison, married 5,147 couples in the Blacksmith’s Shop! Couples have been delivered to the anvil by all kinds of transport: lorry, fire engine, horseback. Sometimes the wedding parties arrive on motorbikes dressed in black leather. And traditional kilts for Scottish bride-grooms are still popular.
Weddings for St Valentine’s Day have to be booked three months in advance.

Britain’s Wedding Capital

Gretna Green

Gretna Green

Gretna Green

Gretna Green

Gretna Green

Gretna Green

Gretna Green

Gretna Green