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Get married on the sly at Scottish festival in Wallonia

16:31 08/08/2022

Couples who like the idea of a wedding but aren’t quite ready for the commitment of marriage can experience a test-run of the ceremony this weekend, reports Le Soir.

Aulne Abbey Farm in Thuin is hosting Scottish Days, a festival dedicated to Scottish culture from 13 to 15 August, during which visitors can experience a mock Scottish wedding for the budget price of €5.

In Scotland, a couple could wed at the age of 16 even after the practice was banned in England in 1745. This resulted in many couples sneaking across the border to get married, making Scotland a romantic getaway for elopers. Originally, the ceremonies were performed by a ‘blacksmith priest’. For over 100 years, the bride and groom took an oath before his anvil. 

While today these fake priests have disappeared, the law still does not require parental consent for couples over the age of 16. So the country continues to attract thousands of couples from around the world. 

The Scottish Days festival has therefore brought the tradition to Belgium, and for one weekend only, lovers are invited to come and be united in front of a blacksmith priest and his anvil without any prior administrative procedures. 

The wedding is only symbolic, with no legal repercussions, and each year a few hundred couples make the trip to the heritage site to take the consequence-free plunge.

Celebration of Scottish culture

Apart from furtive weddings, the Scottish Days festival also offers a variety of activities to celebrate and connect visitors to Scottish culture. 

There will be a gastronomic village, bagpipe music, traditional clothing and sporting events such as tree trunk throwing, known as ‘toss the caber’. Scottish beers are on tap as well as Gaelic singing, all with the goal of immersing festival-goers in the history and the legends of Scotland in a fun and authentic setting. 

Around 6,000 visitors are expected to attend the event over the three days.

Photo: 2017 edition of the festival


Written by Helen Lyons