High street stalwarts wed in movie-like Gretna Green ceremony

Michael Grist and Jill Barrett on their wedding day 

Michael Grist and Jill Barrett on their wedding day - Credit: Ray Carruthers

Two well-known faces of Woodbridge’s high street have tied the knot in Gretna Green after more than a decade of being engaged.  

Jill Barrett and Michael Grist of Barretts of Woodbridge, in the Thoroughfare, eloped to Scotland to tie the knot last month.  

Jill Barrett and Michael Grist got married at Gretna Green

Jill Barrett and Michael Grist got married at Gretna Green - Credit: Ray Carruthers

"We have been engaged for 12 years,” said Mr Grist.  

“Just before Covid we thought that the time was right. 

“Everyone kept asking when we were getting married.” 

Michael Grist and Jill Barrett were welcomed back with bright and colourful decorations

Michael Grist and Jill Barrett were welcomed back with bright and colourful decorations - Credit: Michael Grist and Jill Barrett


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After twelve years and having both been married before, the couple decided they wanted something much more low-key.  

"We didn't want all the fuss so we ran away," said Mrs Barrett. 

Jill Barrett and Michael Grist got married at Gretna Green with their wedding guest Elsie

Jill Barrett and Michael Grist got married at Gretna Green with their wedding guest Elsie - Credit: Ray Carruthers

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The couple decided to head north of the border in their campervan and got married on September 16.  

Only one companion was invited to witness the couple’s wedding; Elsie the dog.  

“We had Elsie with us,” she said.  

“She was a bridesmaid.” 

Jill Barrett was welcomed home with a barrage of decorations

Jill Barrett was welcomed home with a barrage of decorations - Credit: Michael Grist and Jill Barrett

The couple had a magnificent day as one of ten couples getting married at the historic venue that day; eight of which, like them, had eloped.

"When we were kids we used to watch black and white movies and in those they would go to Gretna Green," said Mr Grist. 

"It was a wonderful place."

The couple said telling their children they were in Gretna Green evoked different responses. 

“We had to explain to our younger children what Gretna Green was,” said Mr Grist.  

Following the wedding the couple honeymooned on the beautiful Scottish island of Arran, which the couple joked was a world away from their joint stag/ hen do.  

Elsie the dog inspects the balloons given to Jill and Michael

Elsie the dog inspects the balloons given to Jill and Michael - Credit: Michael Grist and Jill Barrett

“We had that at the Wetherby services on the A1/M,” he said. 

When they returned to Woodbridge, the couple were welcomed back with great celebration at Barretts.

Staff at the shop had brought in cake and dressed up parts of the store to welcome back the newly weds in style.  

“It was a surprise,” said Mrs Barrett.  

“We came in just as normal.” 

Since their return, the couple have had a number of small celebrations with family and friends to mark their marriage as well as staff from the shop.  

She said: "We have had several meals.

"We are celebrating."

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