Two and a half years ago my hubby and I got married and because we wanted it to just be the two of us without all the fuss of a big wedding and inviting loads of friends and relations we opted to get married in Gretna. Well actually we were married at the Mill Forge in Kirkpatrick Fleming which is three miles away from the actual Gretna Green.
We stayed in Gretna the night before going to the Mill Forge for our 5 o'clock wedding.
Upon arrival at Gretna railway station we were met by a bleak looking place, unmanned and no character to the place at all. We quickly found our hotel which was nice but as for Gretna itself, it left a lot to be desired. What people did before the Gateway outlet village was built I have no idea but apart from that there is very little to do. Of course there is the usual touristy things to visit such as the Blacksmiths but there seemed to be only one pub and a little row of highly priced shops. We spent a good deal of our time in the shopping village which was tiny in comparison to Cheshire Oaks. The shops sold designer brands at reduced prices and there was a few nice places for coffee.
I do not think Gretna is at all attractive or romantic and it was such a disappointment after going to Edinburgh as a child and being enchanted by the place and visiting Port Patrick and Newton Stewart when I was in my twenties and loving these Scottish towns. I suppose I expected Gretna to be like other towns in Scotland I have visited. No way was it. I did not like it at all. Kirkpatrick Fleming was nice though and we did have a nice wedding ceremony but I wouldn't go back to Gretna again as it is sorely in need of some atmosphere.
When my then boyfriend proposed to me back in 2006 I wanted to get married straight away. We had already been together nearly 5 years and had a 1 year old son, I was not bothered about a big wedding costing thousands of pounds I just wanted to get married. After much thought I decided that Gretna Green would be the ideal place and leaving our son with my parents we went and got married in Gretna Green, just the two of us.
Gretna Green is a village in Annandale and Eskdale district in the Dunfries and Galloway. It is just above the border between England and Scotland and it is easy to get to. I live in Yorkshire so I think it only took about 2 hours to get there and it was an easy drive.
I organised the wedding myself and booked everything after receiving a couple of brochures. We stayed in a nice small hotel where everyone was really friendly and welcoming. We were to be married at The Anvil Hall, which is one of a couple of places you can get married. There is also the famous Blacksmiths Shop and other larger hotels that will let you marry there.
The Anvil Hall was such a beautiful place inside and out, I was amazed at how loverly it was when I first walked in. We had two witnesses who had been arranged for us and we had all of our photo's taken outside the Hall which were all really beautiful.
Our wedding was perfect but I must admit and my husband will agree with me that Gretna Green was such a small quiet place with no where to go and nothing to see. I think we were quite unprepared for how small Gretna Green really is. There is one row of shops with a cake shop, newsagents, hairdressers and a few other shops. There is no where to really go on a night.
The first night when we arrived we walked for ages looking for somewhere to eat and I think we ended up in another hotel, once we had eaten there was nothing else to do. There was one pub near where we were staying but we left after one drink as it was full of locals who kind of made you feel that you weren't welcome. After our wedding which was 4 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon we went for a meal and then spent our wedding night watching television because we had no where to go.
Maybe if I had the choice again of where to get married I would choose somewhere abroad because although Anvil Hall where we got married was beautiful our trip was spoiled by the lack of things to do. I think I got swept away with the romantic idea of 'running away' to Gretna Green that I actually didn't research what there is to do in Gretna.
If you want to get married then lock yourself away in your hotel room then Gretna Green would be ideal for you but if you want a bit of nightlife and somewhere to eat then I wouldn't recommend Gretna Green. It is a loverly, small and quiet village though.
Gretna Green is a town just over the English border. It is a small town and has a certain charm about it. Famous for its Blacksmith shop where years ago couples used to elope to get married at the age of sixteen without the consent of their parents. You can still get married at the famous blacksmith shop today if you book well in advance. I was there last year and saw a wedding with all the trimmings and a Scottish Piper giving his all for the guests, it was quite nice to see. You can tour the Blacksmith Shop for £2.00 per adult and half price for children. It is worth the entry fee because there are quite a few old carriages and anvils that are very impressive. You can if you wish pay to have a photograph with your beloved dressed up in old-fashioned clothes next to the Smiths Anvil; it costs £12.00 but a nice photograph to keep. The Blacksmith Shop and Tartan Centre are in a complex geared up for tourists, there is plenty of car park spaces free of charge, a couple of gift shops, The famous Scotch Wool Shop, A large cafeteria, and a smashing play area for the kids. It is worth the visit for a couple of hours. If you are in Gretna on a Sunday you must have a browse around the market. Parking the car near to the market is quite difficult with it being so busy, but they do have a car park about 500 yard away and provide a courtesy bus to and fro from the market entrance. There are stalls selling all the normal stuff you would get in a market but every so often you fall upon some bargains. The meat wagon is very popular and for a fiver you can get a carrier bag full of pork chops. Hot doughnuts are another one of my favourites, Ten for a pound, I can eat about six, and then I allow hubby the remainder. There is a huge tool store, and the carpet man offers some bargains, you can always strike a deal with him. If you go to Gretna Market in the winter months wear two pairs of socks and a woolly hat covering you
r ears because it is freezing cold. Avoid the café in the big hall because it is not very clean at all. The ladies with the tea and coffee urns stand right between the toilet doors and the whole set up is not very nice. There are quite a few tea and coffee wagons scattered around the market that are nice. A new Shopping centre opened two years ago called the ‘Gateway Centre’ if you are into designer clothes then it is worth calling in because you can certainly pick up a bargain. It is easy to find because the Gretna people are very proud of their new complex and there are signs everywhere giving you directions. Oh I forgot, as you come out of the Blacksmith complex turn right and one hundred yards up the road is a small local pub, very quaint, very Scottish, and the landlord serves a mean Whiskey Mac! I cant for the life of me remember the name, but we sat for an hour defrosting one November Sunday and the locals entertained us with their stories, we will certainly go back.
Dumfries and Galloway is where you'll find the legendary Gretna Green. This small town, just across the border between England and Scotland became famous for runaway marriages. When the marriage laws in England and Scotland were different, couples could marry in Scotland at the age of sixteen without parental consent. Gretna Green became synonymous with elopements and young marriages. There isn't actually much at Gretna except for the Blacksmith's shop and Tartan Centre which are set in a complex geared to visitors. The whole object, of course, is to part you from your money. There is also a fairly new shopping complex just outside Gretna. The Gretna Gateway Centre is well signposted from the town centre. You will find a host of designer shops here, all selling at greatly reduced prices. Certainly worth a look if you are passing through Gretna. There is a fairly good Sunday market in Gretna and this is also well sign posted. You will find the usual range of goods on sale here. Prices are very good but don't be tempted to use the cafe which is not very clean, dark, and very poor. (I asked for coffee here and really couldn't tell what was in my cup!) There is little of interest in Gretna once you have seen these things. You really couldn't spend more than a few hours there without getting bored.