Gretna’s status as the ultimate wedding destination comes from its position just north of the Scottish border.
In 1754, an English law stopped couples under 21 marrying without their parents’ permission. But in Scotland it was permitted for girls from the age of 12, and for boys aged 14 or older. Moreover, anyone in Scotland could marry a couple by « declaration ».
Young star-crossed lovers in England would elope and Gretna was the first town they would come to, two miles over the border. Enterprising blacksmiths set themselves up as « anvil priests », carrying out the ceremony in return for a drink or a few guineas.