Gretna Green magnet for Valentine’s Day weddings

DOZENS of couples celebrated Valentine’s Day by tying the knot at Gretna Green.

Valentine's Day wedding couple Siobhan and Mark Blincow. Picture: PA

A total of 42 ceremonies were carried out in Gretna Green, in Dumfries and Galloway, with couples travelling from across the country to make their vows.

Its popularity as a marriage venue dates back to 1754 when the Marriage Act, which required parental consent to marry under the age of 21, came into force in England and Wales.

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Many young couples crossed the border to Gretna Green, the closest village, to take advantage of Scotland’s lower marriage age, which remained at 16.

Allan and Karen Farr. Picture: PA

One couple who made the journey to Gretna today were Londoners Amerjit Walia, 52, and his now-wife Sarah, 33.

Mr Walia, a keen Sikh martial artist, carried a Gatka sword while dressed in a red tartan kilt and matching red dastar turban.

He said: “I’ve always wanted to wear a kilt as it’s similar to what the Gatka warriors wear.”

His new wife said they chose the Anvil Hall in the village as their wedding venue due to the “history, romance and symbolic nature” which suited how they felt.

Amerjit and Sarah Walia tie the knot at Gretna Green. Picture: Getty

Anne Downie, an exhibition guide at the Blacksmith’s Shop, said that “tradition and history” are the most important reasons for people coming to Gretna Green to get married.

She added: “With young couples not being able to marry without consent in England, speed was usually of the essence, so they would come to Gretna in hot pursuit by their parents to get married.”

The Anvil Hall, registration office, Blacksmith’s Cottage, Mill Forge, and the many hotels in the area are all popular wedding venues.

Allan Farr, 39, and his bride Karen, 35, travelled from Hereford to tie the knot in the Blacksmith’s Cottage.

Mrs Farr said: “It’s a secret wedding, so no-one knows. We felt it was appropriate as it’s Allan’s birthday and it’s Valentine’s Day.”

The happy couple posted a picture of themselves on Facebook once they were married to let friends and family know their news.

Around 5,000 weddings are held in the area each year, but only 20% are said to involve Scottish couples, with 60% coming over the border from England and Wales and the rest from overseas.

Another couple to get married today were Mark Blincow, 26, from Inverness, and his wife Siobhan, 25, from Bedfordshire.

They chose Gretna due to the romantic history behind the town. They plan to travel to Sri Lanka with their family later this year for their honeymoon.