The A74 (M) might not mean much to many brides but for some of the 5000 married at Gretna Green in 2005 it will have been final road on their route to a wonderful married life!
As I make my frequent journey from Scotland to England I always try to imagine what it must feel like to be approaching Gretna on your wedding day, knowing that this is the marriage capital of the UK.
For those of you that can’t quite picture where Gretna is take a look at this link from Streetmap.co.uk
Just above Carlisle you will see “Hadrian’s Wall” , the border between Scotland And England.
Back in 1753 Lord Hardwicke passed a Marriage Act that if both parties were under the age of 21 they had to seek consent from their parents to get married. Thus this started the trend of young couples eloping to Scotland where this Act did not apply. In fact in Scotland as long as a girl was over 12 and the boy over 14 they could get married, with or without parental consent. This though was changed in 1929 when the The Age of Marriage Act 1929 (applying in Scotland, England & Wales but not in Northern Ireland) stated that both boy and girl had to be at least 16 years, still though no consent was required by their parents. Having read the General Register Office for Scotland web site they quote:
According to one early 20th-century source*, marriage in Scotland at such young ages was in practice almost unknown. No doubt if marriages between children had become common, there would have been public pressure to raise the legal minimum age of marriage earlier than 1929.
So there you have it couples have been speeding up and down the A74 (M) for over 250 years to get married before their parents found out!
Well maybe not so much now but the romantic idea is there all the same - for me anyway!
It takes over 5 hours to drive from London and the surrounding counties to Gretna so thinking back when ones only mode of transport was a horse it seems the trek to wedded bliss must have been quite a journey! We have it so easy nowadays.
I wanted for just a few minutes to imagine how easy it would be to arrange a marriage at Gretna Green. I have this notion that you can just turn up and get married, but deep down know this isn't the case.
So how easy is it to get married in Gretna, is it the answer to avoiding all the stress that far too many brides feel in the build up to their wedding day?
My first port of call was Google, as with most things on the internet.
It appears that main authority site on the subject of getting married in Gretna is GretnaWeddings.com. There seems to be a ton of information but the one page I was drawn to was the step by step guide to getting married at the Anvil Hall. Here is a link to the all important seven steps.
Scanning down the steps I found that number 7 states:
The two Marriage Notice Forms can be submitted up to 3 months and no later than 15 days before the wedding.
Thus any eloping bride and groom must firstly stop to read the small print and do some form filling before packing their bags and hailing a cab, bus, train or jet! In fact it is seriously recommended that you read these guidance notes before filling in a M10 Marriage Notice Form each. Further good bedtime reading can be found at this official Getting Married in Scotland Guide.
The GretnaWeddings.com web site also offers a number of packages you can choose from. Take a look at this page and choose from the Solway, Heather, Tartan, Highland, and Thistle wedding packages. The Thistle package seems to include everything you could imagine, apart from the reception - things certainly seem to have changed since 1753!
I could go on but one last thing, if the thought of motoring up the M6 and A74 (M) to catch a glimpe of a romantic wedding at Gretna seems to much - why not use this webcam to book a seat for the next wedding, I'm hoping there is one at 3 !
As ever good luck with all your wedding planning and if you are getting married at Gretna please let me know.Related Posts :
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