With Prince William and Kate Middleton returning to St Andrews last weekend for the wedding of some of their university friends, we ask the question; “why is St Andrews the ‘top matchmaking university’ in Britain?”
With its world-class hotels, picturesque skyline and coastal charm, St Andrews is an obvious choice for a romantic weekend. Add its iconic reputation as the home of golf, an enchanting set of medieval ruins and a heap of excellent independent shops and restaurants and the result is even more compelling.
However, while I can see why St Andrews makes for a great destination in which to propose, or get married, or just enjoy a mini-break, it doesn’t seem quite so obvious why St Andrews University alumni have such an unusually high chance of marrying each other (10% of alumni surveyed in 2005 were married to fellow alumni).
What’s the secret? What makes St Andrews such a promising environment for starting committed relationships? Is there something in the water? I spoke to ten alumni who met their partners in St Andrews to find out more.
Most of the alumni I spoke to met because they lived in the same halls, or bumped into each other at a student party. Many of them commented that the size of the university and town “makes it difficult to be anonymous” and also means “there’s a good chance of you bumping into that Special Person over and over again, until you finally pluck up the courage to ask them out!” A lot of people appropriately used the word “intimate” to describe the St Andrews atmosphere, and suggested that dating is more “intense” here than in other places.
So far so good, but surely there are lots of ‘boutique-style’ university environments so it can’t just be to do with the compact nature of St Andrews. What else did our alumni have to say?
Our alumni had fond memories of first dates in places such as Pittenweem (“we took a picnic and sat looking out over the sea”), or closer to home over a coffee at Jannettas on South Street. St Andrews also boasts some beautiful spots in which to get engaged; our group seems to be a romantic lot, and popular proposal places include St Andrews pier, the Cathedral ruins, and the Castle. Many of them also married here, in St Salvator’s Chapel, and enjoyed receptions at the many beautiful local hotels.
The happy couples to whom we spoke were more than happy to suggest theories as to why St Andrews makes for such a hotspot for matchmaking:
“It’s such a small, intimate university – maybe it attracts the sort of people who are interested in settling down quite early on?” – Jayne Hyndman
“St Andrews is such a unique place: if you have chosen to live, work or study there then there’s a good chance you already have something in common with anyone you meet.” – Kirsty Nicol
“The romance and beauty of the town, is a recipe for love. Twee I know, but the St Andrews has a magical atmosphere. It has such a cosmopolitan feel, with the added bonus of Scottish beauty and history.” – Clare Ferguson
“I think it’s the combination of a small town and a sizeable student population.” – Vivienne Dunstan
“I guess it is very easy to meet like-minded people through house parties, dinner parties, and societies. There’s a real sense of community here that isn’t always present in other universities and although there are fewer students, you do get to know people better. Despite the fact that it’s now been nine years since I first graduated, it’s still impossible to walk down the street without seeing someone I know. The setting is also perfect – there are countless possibilities for romance!” – Claire Gregory
“It must be on the first day of term when you are told that you could meet your future husband/wife here, maybe the university has a secret matchmaking department that deploys cupids around the university! It must also be because St Andrews is a beautiful idyllic place that evokes those feelings of wanting to settle down and there must be hundreds of romantic places where people can be proposed to.” – Gemma Sanderson
So – what makes St Andrews the most romantic place in Britain? We’ve come up with some ideas, but why don’t you visit us and find out for yourself?
Thanks Jayne, Kirsty, Clare, Vivienne, Claire, Gemma, Frederique, Bob, Fiona and Jamie for all your input!