The Mill Forge
We stayed at The Mill Forge on 12 March 2011, a cold, wet and grey weekend that tried its best to beat us. Having woken to nearly a foot of snow in Glasgow, we wrapped up and made our way down to the Scottish borders.
The drive from Glasgow took just over an hour on a quiet but wet Saturday morning and we arrived just after lunchtime. The complex – I’ll refer to it as a complex as it does take up a surprisingly large area – is made up of a collection of separate buildings, including the reception, the bar/restaurant, The Forge (where the ceremonies are held) and then the chalet-style room blocks. The manager Graham also lives on-site and his house is a traditional sandstone building located at the front of the complex.
For me, the venue is perfectly described as “quaint”, and this is demonstrated by the waterwheel situated at the front of the grounds. Sourced and restored by Graham’s family who are all oringally joiners by trade, it makes an amazing backdrop for wedding photographs.
One of things that really stood out for me was the number of great photograph opportunities. From the carefully positioned “Gretna Green” signs to the anvil, and the mature and well nurtured gardens, it is clear the management has spent a good deal of time making sure your memories translate well to photographs.
If you are looking for canapés on the lawns, vintage champagne in crystal glasses and a string quartet playing Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’, then this is definitely not the venue for you. With no minimum numbers, up to five weddings a day, and a house disco for the evening entertainment, The Mill Forge specialises in budget end of the wedding market, and does so very well. Over 750 weddings took place here in 2010, and a record 1100 not too many years ago. The current meal cost is only £23.50 per head for three courses, and the drinks package is £8.50 per person. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more competitive deal in the area.
Ceremonies are held in The Forge, complete with anvil, at a cost of £275.00 to hire (reduced to £150.00 Mon-Wed). Seating 30 easily but with a capacity of 70, it still manages to maintain a cosy feel which would appeal to weddings with barely a single guest. Afterwards, the wedding meal is held in one of the restaurants three suites, the largest seating up to 70.
The rooms are well proportioned and all 33 chalets, including the five bridal suites, have wooden bed frames hand made by Graham and the family joiners. The bridal suites are all impressive in size, with whirlpool baths and balconies with double doors, and a huge amount of storage.
While the venue is amazing value, there are a number of points you may want to consider. Firstly, the venue sits alone, around two miles outside of Gretna. Everything you need is on site for you, so I would not think this would be a problem. Another consideration is the proximity of the M74 – it is literally over the road. While we could obviously hear the sound of traffic when outdoors during the day, we couldn’t hear it indoors, and since the sound of traffic doesn’t show up in photographs, I don’t think this is a point of too much concern.
The main consideration I think most brides will have is the fact that there could be another four brides getting married on the same day at the same venue. There is a good chance you will be sharing your wedding day here and you need to be prepared for this. The staff are excellent at providing a personalised service however, so while you may see the odd flash of another white dress here and there, you shouldn’t let that detract from your big day.
In summary, I think The Mill Forge is a perfect wedding venue for the smaller wedding party of up to 30, as well as those who maybe aren’t marrying for the first time who want the romance but without the pomp and circumstance. The outdoor space is a key selling point, and the informal nature of the day will appeal to those who appreciate the romance of Gretna Green but don’t necessarily want to remortgage the house for their wedding day. While it is undoubtedly a budget wedding venue, the finish is excellent, and the staff are warm and welcoming. For a Gretna Green wedding, it is definitely one I would recommend a visit to.