Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Going to the Chapel...

At Gretna Hall

Often the people we meet along our journey ask us where we are headed to next.  Gretna Green, by far, has received the most interesting comments: running away to get married are yeh?  are you going to get married there?  or we were married there thirty plus years ago!  Little did we know when we booked a house exchange with Nick and Sarah, that we were headed to one of the most popular marriage destinations in the world.  What better place to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. 
They say it is good luck to kiss under the gate...and we figured we better give it a try.
So far during our trip we have ruined a Teflon pot, broken a microwave and a figurine.
And we thought we wouldn't have to worry about maintenance and repairs for a year!
Unlike Niagara Falls and Vegas, Gretna Green is a tiny little village in the south of Scotland, so far south, that it is actually on the borderlands of England and Scotland.  The size doesn’t seem to matter though as Gretna Green hosts over 5000 weddings each year.  People from 91 (and counting) different countries have been married in the Old Blacksmith’s Shop since 1984 and 1 in every 6 Scottish weddings takes place here. Just so happened that the day we visited was the only day that week that there wasn’t a wedding planned, so we got to explore!
The Victorian Bridal Chamber where many a couple stayed, originally in the Gretna Hall Hotel,
now on display in the Old Blacksmith's Shop on the way to the anvil.

The anvil is at the front of the room in front of a carriage which was commissioned for Queen Victoria's coronation.
The room is wired with WiFi as all weddings are streamed live to the Web, unless chosen otherwise.

Gretna Green became popular for runaway weddings back in the 1700’s when English Law stated that you must be married in a church, with your parents consent and that the couple must be over the age of 21.  In Scotland none of these rules applied and the legal marrying age, still to this day, is 16.  The girls have each chosen a historic site that we have visited to write a History essay about, thankfully neither of them chose Gretna Green.  I’m not sure I want them to know that there is a place they can run away to and get married, without our consent. J
I do!
Today there are many establishments hosting weddings in Gretna Green, but the iconic blacksmith and his anvil have become lasting images.  And although we didn’t get married here, we have added these images to our wedding anniversary memories as we tried to recite our wedding vows to one another over the anvil (without much success I’m afraid). At least we remembered the meaning of the vows if not the actual words!  

At another Blacksmith's Shop around the corner, this newly married couple just made it into
the vehicle in time, before a huge downpour hit!


  1. Looking good...even after 17 years!! Any really old rich Scotsmen in those parts?? I would promise to give him the best last year of his life!!

  2. Great post! Now you get to have a year long honeymoon - ha ha. Lang may yer lum reek!
    Great country to try driving Lisa! Open winding roads. It just doesn't get any better.

  3. Hi John, I don't know about the long and open parts, but definitely windy roads here in Scotland. Mark keeps urging me to get behind the wheel, but I keep reminding him I value our lives too much. Mark has managed to pipe a few times in England, but it usually winds up in us getting chased down by security or angry Englishmen! We saw a bagpipe concert this week that you would have loved, it was the Inveraray District Pipe Band - there is a youtube link called The Ascension of Inveraray & District Pipe Band - 2004-2013 that shows the develpement from the junior band to the world class band they are today. The show was fantastic! Mark will try and send you an email with some pictures and more details.
    Miss you.


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