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I’m getting married in the morning…

– SWMBO

SURPRISE!!! (Number 3)

 

We take time en route to our elopement to enjoy some ancient druid spirituality (Castlerigg Stone Circle, Lakes District, England)

We take time en route to our elopement to enjoy some ancient druid spirituality (Castlerigg Stone Circle, Lakes District, England)

In the mid 1700s, English laws changed so that people had to be 21 to marry without their parents’ consent and the ceremony had to be done in a church. In Scotland, anyone over the age of 16 could marry on the spot in a simple “hand fasting” ceremony.  Hand fasting involved two witnesses and a declaration by the couple that they were of age and free to marry.  Young English couples flocked to Scotland to elope and Gretna Green happened to be the first convenient village over the border.

Runaway bride

Runaway bride

Many couples were not only running towards marriage but also away from the irate parents.  It soon became known that the blacksmith would marry couples over the anvil for the price of a drink or two.  It became said that the blacksmith would forge the marriage in the heat of the moment but like iron, it would last into eternity.

Of course the church didn’t agree at all with Gretna Green’s blacksmith weddings and openly condemned them.  Mr. Richard Rennison, the last village blacksmith priest (1940) would point out that his last name, when spelled backwards, was “no sinner”.  Two centuries of church pressure on parliament to outlaw blacksmith weddings finally paid off and anvil (handfast) weddings were outlawed.

The marriage anvil

The marriage anvil

Our wedding rings on the anvil

Our wedding rings on the anvil

I do.

I do.

And now we smash the fingers (just joking - now we hammer on the anvil)

And now we smash the fingers (just joking – now we hammer on the anvil to symbolize the forging of our marriage)

A few Scottish blessings about love being like a peat fire

A few Scottish blessings about love being like a warm peat fire and we’re done

English couples continued to elope to Gretna Green though because they could still get married at 16 without parental consent.  Now they just had to go to the registry office instead of the blacksmith’s.  But many would still call in at the blacksmith’s for a formal anvil blessing after the official registry wedding.

Gretna Green is today a village built on weddings with people coming from all over the world to get married over the anvil in the blacksmith’s shop (with a real minister officiating to make it all legal).

We first heard about Gretna Green about 20 years ago when it played a role in a Coronation Street story line.  Nick and Leanne were about 17 and in love so they decided to run away to Scotland to get married.  Of course Nick’s mother, Gail was apoplectic at the news because Leanne was a Battersby and not good enough for her son and thus began two decades of rivalry between two quintesstial Corrie families.

We are piped out after our vow renewal

We are piped out after our vow renewal

We enjoy a laugh with our piper, Allan

We enjoy a laugh with our piper, Allan

In an homage to Coronation Street and in recognition of our twenty years of marriage, I arranged for Fahbio and I to renew our vows over the famous anvil with our beautiful children as witnesses.  From this we can conclude that soap operas strengthen marriages.  Or something like that.

Family portrait, Gretna Green (Scotland)

Family portrait, Gretna Green (Scotland)