Miss Osborne asks: Why does everyone go to Gretna Green to get married?
Mrs. Fitzpatrick’s short answer: Vegas, baby—Vegas!
Mrs. Fitzpatrick’s longer answer: Miss Osborne is really asking why everyone who elopes does the deed in Gretna Green. Or at least, why does everyone assume that eloping couples have fled to Gretna Green? The only Austen couple I can recall who actually make it there are Julia Bertram and Captain Yates (whose rates were smaller than his rants—good one, Miss Crawford. ). Everyone thinks Wickham and Lydia have gone there, but actually they went to London. I mean, why Gretna Green? Why not Penzance or Stonehenge or Edinburgh?
This really is a Vegas thing. Gretna Green was the first village you got to in Scotland along the road at that time. And Scotland makes it easier to get married than England does. You don’t have to hang around for 21 days being “in residence” and you don’t need your parents’ consent. You don’t even need a priest or a church. All you need is two witnesses, a blacksmith, and an anvil! Woohoo! Elvis impersonators are optional.