The threat of forest fires, tiger sharks and giant insects doesn’t sound like the most romantic way to meet your spouse, but for Andrea Taylor and Brett Green, it was just the start of their adventurous 17-year journey.
Andrea, who grew up in Leyland and attended Wellfield High School and Runshaw College, met Brett, who is from Essex, in 1998 on a marine conservation project in Tanzania, East Africa.
She explains: “During the three months we spent there we established we had lots in common, from scuba diving and music to our sense of humour, and we formed a close bond.
“You couldn’t really call what we had ‘dates’ but we had many shared experiences in Africa including challenging living conditions, living on a diet of rice and beans and having to contend with the threat of malaria, forest fires, tiger sharks, and giant insects.
“We also got to experience diving on pristine coral reefs and saw how people with seemingly very little in life seemed happier than those with much more.
“Our shared experiences brought us close together.”
“You couldn’t really call what we had ‘dates’ but we had many shared experiences in Africa including challenging living conditions, living on a diet of rice and beans and having to contend with the threat of malaria, forest fires, tiger sharks, and giant insects.”Andrea Taylor
Andrea, who now works as an environmental consultant in the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland, adds: “When we returned to the UK we intended to keep in touch as good friends, but instead we embarked on a three-year long distance relationship while we both completed university courses, before we started a life together in Orkney in 2001.”
It was their shared passion for scuba diving and beautiful scenery which led the couple to Orkney.
Andrea says: “We have spent a lot of time exploring the mainland and the islands, both above and below the waves, from climbing the 135m sea stack, the Old Man of Hoy, to watching beautiful sea slugs on the seabed at the bow of the scuttled German fleet wreck, the ‘Karlsruhe’, in Scapa Flow.
“Recently, we’ve had the privilege of being at sea with a pod of Orcas in Scapa Flow, and experienced the northern lights from the cliffs of Yesnaby on the west coast of Orkney.”
Brett, a commercial diver, proposed to Andrea at the turn of the century during a trip to Chamonix in the French Alps.
On the evening of the last day of 1999, as the fireworks went off to mark the start of the New Year, he proposed in the knee-deep snow and got the ‘yes’ he was hoping for - before he even managed to ask the question!
The couple married at the Standing Stones Hotel in their hometown of Stromness, Orkney, surrounded by family and friends on July 25, including Andrea’s parents, John and Sandra Taylor, who live in Farington.
Andrea says: “We had chosen every single detail of the day and done a lot of the work ourselves.
“Every word the celebrant said had been chosen by us, and everyone commented that it was really noticeable how we’d made it personal.
“The button holes with their Lego Darth Vader and Storm Trooper guardians, and the superhero cake with Superman and Wonder Woman got many comments.
“We also incorporated some traditional Scottish ceremonies into our day including hand fasting (which involves literally ‘tying the knot’) and warming of the rings, which involved the rings being passed round all the guests so they could place their best wishes upon them before they were placed on our fingers.
“We also had a traditional ceilidh band and a bride’s cog which was a wedding gift from friends. The cog is an Orkney wedding tradition and is a handmade wooden vessel filled with a warm sweet alcoholic mixture.
“The bride must be the first to drink from the cog and then it is passed round all the guests.”
To make the day all the more special, the newlyweds announced that Brett would be taking Andrea’s surname as a tribute to her dad and her Uncle Ian.
The pair plan to visit California and take a west coast road trip for their honeymoon next year.