February 1 2021 | Planning Tips

Because of Covid-19, elopements are more popular than ever. Did you know that Gretna, Louisiana, right across the river from New Orleans, was named after a Scottish village just over the English border where couples have gone for “quickie marriages” since 1753?

Anyone who’s read or watched the movie Pride and Prejudice knows about Gretna Green where Lydia Bennett and Mr. Wickman were headed before they decided to shack up in London instead. And in Downtown Abby, Lady Sybil Crawley and the chauffeur Tom Branson planned to elope to Gretna Green before being caught by her sisters.

So why Gretna Green? Before Parliament passed the 1854 Marriage Act, English boys as young as fourteen and girls as young as twelve could marry without parental consent. The new law strived to put an end to clandestine marriages by requiring couples to be 21 to marry without parental consent, to marry in a church, to publish banns for three weeks before the ceremony, and to record their marriage in the parish register. To get around the law, young ladies and gentlemen would make a mad dash to the barbershop in Gretna Green where an “Anvil Priest” forged marriage bonds with a bang of the anvil.

Here in Louisiana, thanks to the Gretna Historical Society, couples can say their “I dos” at Gretna Green Blacksmith Shop, too, however, a judge, not a blacksmith, will bang the anvil to unite you and your betrothed. A Gretna marriage license will cost you $29.50 and the 72-hour waiting period between the issue of the license and the ceremony may be waived.

While we hope you’re able to have your wedding in one of New Orleanslovely venues, if you do run off to Gretna Green Blacksmith Shop, you might as well have your honeymoon in the Crescent City. Plan your itinerary at experienceneworleans.com and book your stay at bestneworleanshotels.com.


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