Sunday, February 28

3 breakdowns, a road closed and a wedding

Friday 28th February 2003

So, the day is finally here. A 3-4 hour drive ahead of us to Gretna Green on the Scottish Border. We weren't getting married until 2pm but we got in the car at 7.30am because we had booked rooms for us and the rest of our families in Gretna, and we could all get there, have a drink and something to eat before we went to the Old Blacksmith's Workshop to get married.

So, everything we need is in the car. I switch the radio on to be met with, if you're planning to get married at Gretna Green today, don't bother going. (WHAT?) Did someone pay the DJ to say that to piss me off? No, it was true. The DJ continued. A lorry containing chemicals has overturned on the A70 which goes right past Gretna Green and they have closed the road. (WTF?) So we set off anyway. Map out to find an alternate route.. erm, no, that is the only road that goes past Gretna Green. Bugger. We carry on. I phone the registrar to let them know what's happening. She couldn't have been nicer. She told us how to get there an alternate route and that she would marry us anyway no matter what time we arrived because of the road closure. Ahhh thank god for that.

Phone calls are made to various members of the family all heading north and tell them the alternate way in. Family coming from Scotland are ok, their bit of road isn't closed.

About half an hour outside of Carlisle the traffic is stood still. People are sat on the grass verges drinking coffee. People are wandering around the motorway talking to people in cars who have obviously been sat there for quite some time. I phone the registrar again. We were supposed to sign the papers before 11am. It was now 20 to 11. Again, she re-assured us that we could get there as soon as possible and it would all be ok.

So, we're sat in the traffic and I get a phone call from my mum who is travelling with my brother, his girlfriend. Your brother has just been pulled over by the police. Oh bugger! He's got one not legal tyre and no Tax. Oh FFS. He assured them the tax disc was in the post (a likely story) and they let him on his way. 10 minutes later another phone call. Your brother has broken down. We're waiting for your other brother to find us and he's going to tow us. Meanwhile, we still haven't moved our car an inch. We can see the turn off that we need 100 yards up the road, but can we get to it? No! 20 minutes later we're still sat there and the phone rings again. The tow rope has snapped and we don't have a spare. Both of your brothers are rummaging around in the ditch at the bottom of the grass verge at the side of the road and all I can see are bits of rubbish, tyres and other junk being thrown into the air. (told between bouts of hysterical laughter).

We finally move that last 100 yards and manage to get off the gridlocked road and are swiftly heading towards the registrar's office. The phone rings again. Mum: We've made it to B&Q and have just got changed in the toilets there. You mean you all went in to the toilets in your normal clothes and then you came out in your posh frock and the blokes came out in full Highland Dress (kilts included?). Answer, yes. Did anyone notice or say anything? Answer, No. I laughed my head off.

So we finally arrive, sign what we need to sign, go to get changed. I hide from Mark because he's not allowed to see me in my wedding dress and I watch as he leaves. My brother (not the one who kept breaking down) was supposed to be giving me away as my Dad was too sick to travel, hadn't arrived. He had bought new rope at B&Q and was still towing brother number 2. I asked my Father in Law if he would mind stepping in to give me away. He said he'd love to. One thing I hadn't realised is how big my skirt was and I had to very un-elegantly climb into the back of the car, arse first and then my FIL shoved the rest of my skirt in after me.

We made it into the waiting area and my FIL started fiddling with his sporran. (tut) but he pulled out a hip flask and said have a drink, you are trembling. A quick swig nearly choked me, it was straight whiskey. So I had another swig LOL.

We got into position to walk into the marriage room when my mum and breakdown brother arrived, mum with blood pouring down her knee. (apparently she'd run across the car park and fallen over.. daft bat!) The reason they'd had to rush so much is that they'd gone to the wrong place, barged in on someone elses wedding after my brother doing a handreak turn in the car park, to see that it wasn't anyone she recognised getting married and had to find out where we were. My other brother, the one that was supposed to give me away hadn't arrived yet. So FIL and I started to walk through to the marriage room. He kept tripping over my humongous skirt LOL but we made it closely followed by my non-breakdown brother and his family. The only thing missing was the piper. I'd booked a piper to walk us in whilst playing the bagpipes, but he was stuck just outside Carlisle LOL

It was a very relaxed, civil ceremony and we actually had a good laugh during the vows. The registrar was a lovely woman and it was such a light hearted ceremony, everyone was laughing. The tradition is that the registrar has to strike the anvil to proclaim the marriage (The Blacksmith used to do it). My now hubby laughed and said to the registrar 'that was a bit feeble, can you do it again? So she laughed, picked up the hammer and gave the anvil a bloody good belting. There she said, that certainly struck it.

Then out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the piper in his full highland dress including massive furry hat, and he piped us out of the Blacksmith's Workshop. I'm not a great lover of the bagpipes (is anyone?) but I think being high on emotions anyway made them quite pleasant (I can't believe I just said that LOL) and it was very moving. Everyone walked out mopping their eyes.

We ended up having a lovely afternoon, lovely meal and a great evening afterwards, and because we all stayed in the same hotel, we all had a great breakfast together in the morning. The kids were well behaved and so were the adults LOL.

It was a  bit deflating to drive home again, but my son went to stay with his new Granny and Grandad and we headed off the next day to Lanzarote. Neither of us had been abroad before and we loved the entire honeymoon. But I won't go into details (wicked wink)


  1. Wow I think that wins the most eventful wedding prize out in blogland. What super memories though

  2. sounds like a lovely day, eventually.

  3. i can't believe I've not heard this before. i now want to see more photos!!

  4. wonderful recounting of your wedding day Annie :-) I want to get married at Gretna (but apparently it's just not the same anymore), so maybe Whitby Goth Week will do instead

  5. TheMadHouse - yes we can all laugh about it now. I wasn't acutally that stressed about it but my mum was completely losing the plot.

    Heather, yes it was. Particularly when the blokes got changed and wore Metallica t-shirts with their kilts LOL. Although i wasn't so keen on them proving how Scottish they were at the end of the night by bending over!!

    CG, I can't believe you've never heard it either LOL. I'll have to dig the pics out.

    JCR, Whitby Goth Week sounds fun. Get married under the whale bones ;)

  6. wonderful recounting of your wedding day Annie :-) I want to get married at Gretna (but apparently it's just not the same anymore), so maybe Whitby Goth Week will do instead