Community History

Valentine’s Day Marriage Tradition at the Gretna Blacksmith Shop

This year, Judge Vernon J. Wilty III continues his tradition of marrying couples on Valentine’s Day at the Gretna Green Blacksmith Shop, a part of the Gretna Historical Museum Complex located at 209 Lafayette St. in Gretna. The tradition originally began in 1754 in Gretna Green, Scotland; the City of Gretna’s namesake. When the legal marrying in age in England was raised to 21 years, young couples eloped to Scotland, where the legal marrying age was 16. The blacksmith shop in Gretna Green became the main location for these marriages and a tradition was born. Marriages are still held year-round at the Blacksmith Shop in Gretna Green.

Every Valentine’s Day in Gretna, weddings and recommitment ceremonies are held from 11 am to 3 pm and Judge Wilty, who serves as the Jefferson Parish Justice of the Peace, officiates the weddings. Because this is a legal marriage, a marriage certificate must be obtained from the Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court before the ceremony and each couple will be married individually in a short ceremony officiated by the judge. If you wish to just renew your vows, a marriage certificate isn’t necessary but an appointment must be made with the judge. After the ceremony, special certificates and a City of Gretna proclamation is issued to each couple and the couple’s life-long promise is sealed onto an anvil by a blacksmith, as is tradition in Gretna Green, Scotland. The sealing of the anvil is meant to represent the bonding together of two lives forever.

Judge Wilty donates his fee for the ceremonies to the Gretna Historical Society and the members of the historical society keep the day organized, instruct couples on what to do during the ceremony and serve refreshments to couples and their guests. A Valentine’s Day wedding at the Gretna Green Blacksmith Shop is a unique way to commit your life to the one you love and the memories made here are sure to last a lifetime.

For more information on the Gretna Green Blacksmith Shop visit

About the author

Marielle Songy

Marielle Songy was born and raised on the Westbank and currently resides in Gretna. She is a graduate of Archbishop Blenk High School and UNO. A true Louisiana girl, Marielle enjoys creole food, jazz music and the occasional swamp tour.

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