Letter: Marriage Bill gives couples a choice of places to wed

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am afraid that Virginia Ironside reveals ('Dear Gyles Brandreth', 25 July) that all-too- common vice of Anglo-centricity in her views on Gyles Brandreth's proposed Marriage Bill.

In the Northern Kingdom, marriages can be carried out anywhere, as long as a minister officiates, and to Scots, this in no way trivialises the ceremony. Indeed, marriage in the home emphasises the domestic importance of the union, while marriage in hotels, castles, etc, allows all of the population to wed in imposing surroundings, should they wish.

Hardwicke's Marriage Act in the mid-18th century was only enabled because clandestine marriage had become a major problem in England, as portrayed in the fiction of the time. Virginia Ironside's stricture may be of use in preventing rakes forcing themselves in marriage on defenceless heiresses, but I would hope that today's women are not so naive as their 18th-century forebears.

As one who married in a hotel, in what Virginia Ironside would regard as trivial circumstances, I can assure her that the importance of the ceremony was in no way diminished by the surroundings for either participants or onlookers and allowed friends and family from all over the country to attend at a time not possible at a registry office.

No wonder many English couples cross to Gretna to get married.

Yours faithfully,


Preston, Lancashire

26 July