Interview: ‘We need to be personal ambassadors for marriage’

Dec 10, 2022

In addition to pastoring a church in Dumfries, Mark Smith has married thousands of couples – over 400 this year alone. I spoke to him about the additional duties he performs in association with the Gretna Green Registry Office.

Made famous by eloping couples, Mark tells me Gretna Green is still a popular place to get married for people from all over the UK. Today, he says, 29 days’ notice is legally required before couples can wed.

Mark wanted to help couples understand the true meaning of what they were entering into. Marriage is to be for life, he says. “It’s important for … kids”, he goes on, saying that people get married “to be loved, to feel secure”.

Mark tells me that while an average wedding can exceed £35,000, a wedding at Gretna Green can cost less than £1,000. This, he says, is why many still find the location attractive.

Mark only performs man-woman marriages because, he tells me, you can’t “change what’s been the understanding of marriage for thousands of years”. When we try,  “we’re just … making up our own religion”.

According to Mark, the Scottish Government has been undermining man-woman marriage with “social engineering” and “militant” zeal. “Many people are uneasy” with this. The only way to challenge it, he says, is for people to act via the ballot box and vote for “moral issues” and “freedom of speech”.

In the meantime, he concludes, supporting and promoting real marriage is down to us. “We need to be personally ambassadors for marriage”, he says. Let’s “sing the praises of marriage, and show people the benefits of being married”.

At C4M we know that marriages still come out as the best relationship type bar none. At the population level, people are happier, healthier, wealthier, and do much better in life. That goes for children too. We encourage governments across the UK to get back to promoting what works – real marriage.