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Eloping forthe best; RELATIONSHIPS & FAMILY; Gretna Green no longer has the monopoly on runaway brides and grooms.. more and more couples from the UK and the rest of the world are having a get away from it all wedding day at venues all over Scotland.

Byline: SUZANNE OLIPHANT reporters@dailyrecord.co.uk

GRETNA Green is famed for runaway weddings but elopement is now big business across Scotland.

Couples who don't want the fuss and expense of an elaborate wedding are opting to sneak away for a simpler day.

Wedding companies around the country have tapped into the growing market, offering an increasing number of elopement packages.

Companies like Wee Weddings at Crear, near Tarbert in Argyll, offer everything from the flowers and the photography, to the witnesses, a beach and a piper in Highland dress.

Director Kate Lithgow said: "For some couples elopement is financial. However, more often it's to avoid a stressful situation of organising a big wedding.

"Many couples feel it's romantic. For those who have been married before, sometimes a few times, it's more about the fact they just want to get married.

"Couples may want to focus on what is ultimately the most important thing - to marry the person you love."

Crear are an arts charity with their own music studio in a stunning setting overlooking the Paps of Jura and couples can enjoy a stay in their gorgeous cottage.

They ventured into wedding planning when their recording venue was booked for a wedding by friends of the band Travis, who had played there.

Couples choosing to elope can marry for less than PS1000 compared with a traditional wedding costing around PS20,000.

Eloping to Scotland is popular for people in the UK and abroad.

Gretna Green has been a location for elopements for more than two centuries, traditionally used by couples travelling up from England.

In England, they had to be 21 before they could marry without their parents' consent and their marriage had to take place in a church.

Scottish law, however, was different and those restrictions didn't apply - so young English lovers would nip over the Border and marry in the nearest town.

The area is now the chosen destination for elopements from around the globe including Australia, New Zealand and Germany. Gretna Green Ltd offer a wedding package at PS560 including the venue, a small photography package and two nights' accommodation for two people.

Their wedding planner Michelle Hall said the area has romantic connotations which couples love.

She said: "This is something unique and historical for them that makes it more special."

She said younger couples are more likely to elope because they want to escape pressure from their families and they have busy schedules.

Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) have also seen an increase in elopements, especially in rural areas and the Highlands.

Scotland is the ideal location for couples who wish to have a secular wedding.

HSS communications manager Fraser Sutherland said: "Scotland's the only part of the UK where you can have a legal humanist wedding, so it is very popular for people from around the UK coming to Scotland to elope in a humanist ceremony."

Videographer Stuart Carroll said that a chunk of the market is Americans who want to marry in Scotland, as many have ancestral connections and they love the scenery.

He said: "They are looking for a fairytale Scottish view. The west coast of Scotland is popular for the beaches and Glencoe is also popular."

WE FOUND THE TRUE MEANING OF THE MOMENT

KRYSTLE and Michael Simpson chose to elope to Scotland from Ohio because Michael has a historical family link to the country.

Unfortunately, when they landed in Glasgow, their luggage for the next 12 days had been lost.

Krystle, 29, said: "I booked an appointment to find a new dress and Michael had to find another kilt.

"I found an incredible wedding dress in three hours and replaced all my jewellery in just under two hours.

"It was disheartening to let go of a dress that I had spent months perfecting but both Michael and I were reminded of the true meaning of the moment.

"We would have married in jeans and a T-shirt if need be."

And on the day, Krystle We and Michael, 31, were blessed with perfect weather.

Krystle said: "Eloping was very special for us. We made the right decision for the occasion." would

TOP-SECRET WEDDING OF OUR DREAMS MARGARET O'Neill and Warren Calderone, who live in Vancouver, chose to have two weddings - beginning with a top-secret elopement to Scotland.

Margaret, an administrator, is originally from Paisley and a romantic return to her homeland really appealed.

The 44-year-old said: "We chose to elope because we wanted the actual marriage to be private, something that only we experienced together.

"The Scottish landscape is so beautiful, we knew it would be a wonderful setting."

The rain was coming in sideways. "

She and Warren, 48, were greeted with pouring rain on the day but that didn't stop them having the beach wedding they dreamed of.

so we put on wellies Margaret said: "There was no plan B. "We put on our wellies and grabbed a brolly and headed to the beach. The rain was coming in sideways.

"We found our spot on the beach and then we abandoned the umbrella and just got soaked, we didn't care.

"By being able to focus on only us, we really were able to savour every moment."

The couple also had a big wedding celebration when they went back home to Vancouver, so they could share their happiness with loved ones.

They surprised their guests with footage of their "wee wedding" in the Highlands. Margaret said: "There wasn't a dry eye in the house."

THERE WAS NO FUSS - IT WAS JUST US ADRIAN and Donna-Marie Lord married in March last year on the beach in Crear.

Musician Adrian, 50, and nurse Donna-Marie, 53, stumbled upon Crear by chance on holiday in Scotland in 2015.

During the trip, the Cheshire couple had talked about getting married but, as divorcees, felt they couldn't face a big, fussy wedding.

We wanted to marry Adrian visited Crear to play the Steinway piano in the recording studio and was so seduced by the beauty of its position, he thought it was the perfect place to elope.

each other and that was that Adrian said: "For us to get married there so easily sounded wonderful."

They arranged the marriage secretly and didn't tell friends and family until just before they left.

Adrian said: "We wanted to marry each other and that was that. We had a lovely ceremony " Afterwards, we were piped back to the house, which was magical. We had a little chat, grabbed a bottle of champagne and went back down to the beach.

"I'd wholeheartedly recommend elopement."

We would have got married in jeans and a T-shirt The rain was coming in sideways so we put on wellies We wanted to marry each other and that was that

CAPTION(S):

WALKING DOWN THE SMILE Krystle and Michael are so happy with how their day turned out after a near disaster

VOWS Adrian and Donna-Maria on beach
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 30, 2017
Words:1152
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