They were married at the station buffet

There have always been differences in the marriage laws for Scotland and England. One difference was that, in Scotland, it only mattered that you were married by an authorised person, which for most people meant a man of the cloth. It didn’t matter where you got married. Hence the vast majority of Scottish marriages did not take place in the church (kirk), although the banns were read out at services. People in Scotland could therefore get married anywhere providing the minister agreed to attend. Up until around 1900 this usually meant the home of one of the couple’s parents, but from the end of the 19th century all sorts of places were chosen as wedding venues.

I have Scottish ancestors getting married at hotels, the minister’s house (the manse) and various local meeting rooms or community halls. But from 1899 to 1920, three of the children of my gg grandfather Alexander Fraser were married at the Station Buffet, Ellon, Aberdeenshire.

To me, a station buffet means a cafe next to the ticket office and the platforms, so I can’t help imagining a wedding going on while travellers queue for cups of tea and wait outside for their train. I don’t suppose that’s what happened, though. The station at Ellon is no longer there but the Station Hotel remains. Perhaps the Station Buffet was a room at the hotel next to the station.

Alexander Fraser had 15 children, two from his first wife and 13 with his second, so there were lots of weddings in that family and his children married in a variety of places. The eldest were traditional and married at Mosside, the family croft. One married in the church at Old Deer, and three were married in Aberdeenshire but as I’ve not yet looked at their marriage certificates I only know the parish, not the actual location. But a few of the younger children migrated to Canada and were married in Winnipeg.

Going back a generation, to William Fraser’s children, one was married at the Cruden Toll Bar, one at Cruden Parish School, one at the Manse at Ellon, and one splashed out and married at the Waverley Hotel in Aberdeen despite the fact neither he nor his bride lived in Aberdeen.

Over at the other side of Scotland, there were Strachan marriages at the Commercial Inn at Hurlford, Back Road Hall at Dailly and the Co-operative Hall in Cambuslang.

I’m aware that many people think their ancestors would have got married in a church. But if your ancestors were Scottish that would have been highly unlikely.

4 responses to “They were married at the station buffet

  1. An interesting thought! I wonder if that is why so many English eloped to Gretna Green?
    My parents married in 1956 in my mother’s parents’ house but I never really gave much thought to my ancestors. Although…..I must have wondered about it a little because I notice on some of the marriage certificates I have it gives a home address as where the marriage took place. I will need to get them out and have another look!
    Thank you for that insight Judy.

  2. A Gretna Green marriage conducted by a blacksmith would have been an irregular marriage, so would have been lawful in Scotland but not recognised in England. The famous runaway marriages were, I believe, because you could get married in Scotland from age 16 without parental permission but had to be over 18 in England.

  3. I just discovered this blog post and was pleased to read your thoughts on the Station Buffet in Ellon – some of my Heron ancestors were also married at the Station Buffet in the 1920s! Sitting here in Canada, I couldn’t imagine what the “Station Buffet” might reasonably be! Now I have a probable explanation.

  4. Further to your speculation about the Station Buffet. We have a lovely wedding photo of my husband’s grandparents wedding taken in front of it in 1924. And I have just found a couple of photos showing the building in “Ellon A Photographic Journey (Through Time)” produced by a local history society. Here is a link:

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