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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Gretna Green wedding boom after 'unlucky' year

Romantic couples are flocking to Gretna Green this year to be married after an “unlucky” 2013.

Gretna wedding photo
Becky Hexley and Sean Clay with pastor Sandy Jamieson

The wedding capital’s Famous Blacksmiths Shop has seen a 20 per cent increase in bookings already compared with this time last year.

The shop – which started marrying eloping couples from England in 1754 after a controversial change in the law – already has 400 weddings on the books for the year.

Valentine’s Day on February 14 is itself booked solid with weddings every half hour as over the anvil couples seek a sense of romance and history for their special day.

Wedding manager Michelle Hall, said: “Our figures show a dramatic increase this year which we think is down to two things – last year’s perceived ‘unlucky’ 13 in the year and more optimism about the economy.

“We’ve been referenced in everything from Pride and Prejudice to Downton Abbey and we were even mentioned in an episode of Coronation Street last week.

“The historic anvil, which we still use in weddings, civil partnerships and blessings, has a special aura which couples absolutely love to touch and stand beside as they exchange their vows.”

Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop started marrying eloping couples after Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act raised the minimum marital age without parental consent to 21 in England.

As the law did not apply in Scotland, local blacksmith Joseph Paisley set himself up as a so-called ‘anvil priest’ and began conducting marriages over the anvil for a fee.

One of the most scandalous runaway weddings at Gretna Green involved Lord Thomas Erskine who at 66 married his housekeeper Sarah Buck – 30 years his junior – in 1818.

The couple had several illegitimate children at the time of the wedding and Erskine also had eight children with his first wife, who had died 11 years before.

Fearful of the impact on his inheritance, one of his sons arrived and went for his father’s new bride which resulted in a fight in front of a gathering crowd of villagers.

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