A woman who thought she had found a fairytale ending after marrying a handsome toyboy at the Portgual has revealed how her dreams fled with her wedding dress – when she burned the dress to mark the end of her marriage.
Andrea Calland, 54, escaped her old life in North Wales and fled on an adventure to Portugal, where she met local lumberjack Pedro, 20 years her junior.
But after three blissful years, she was left alone over Christmas in a cold trailer with only the scorching remains of her perfect wedding dress for extra comfort.
The massage therapist and aromatherapist shared how setting the dress on fire on New Years Day this year has helped her move forward and embrace the future.
“As I watched my gorgeous wedding dress burn, all my dreams went up in smoke,” she said. “I’m in a better place this year and feel like life has come full circle. I can’t wait to celebrate Christmas with friends in my new home. ‘
Andrea Calland of Wales, 54, on her wedding day to toyboy Pedro, a 34-year-old lumberjack she met after moving to Portugal for a new adventure
Andrea felt cleansed and released after burning her wedding dress on New Years Day, and decided to wait for a fresh start
Andrea left her cozy pink cottage in Ruthin, North Wales in 2014 in search of a “new adventure”.
“As I turned the key in the door last time, I wiped away a tear,” she recalls.
But things quickly improved when Andrea met her husband, Pedro Branco, 34, as he was helping a friend with the harvest on a weekend.
Pedro spoke excellent English and Andrea asked him to help him clear the deadwood from the riverbed on the land where she lived, in the Portuguese countryside.
“I couldn’t afford to pay him, but I offered him all the wood we cleared in return for his help,” she recalls.
“The work was exhausting but I enjoyed getting to know Pedro. He was funny, hardworking, and charming.
Andrea, pictured on her wedding day, left her life in North Wales for an exciting adventure in Portugal. She met Pedro, 20 years younger, and found fairy-tale happiness
“We shared a picnic every day and fell in love.”
Andrea quickly married the lumberjack, who was 20 years younger than her, and describes their love affair as a “fairy tale”.
She quickly moved into her little off-grid stone house and just as quickly they got engaged.
“One big day, 400 guests came from all over the world to celebrate with us.
Andrea remembers wearing “a flowing white wedding dress with a flower crown in my hair”.
In happier times: Things turned sour for the couple when, after a year of marriage, Pedro started working late, but Andrea isn’t entirely sure what went wrong.
Here’s the bride: Andrea and Pedro got married with bridesmaids wearing orange dresses and cowbells on their ankles
“All the bridesmaids wore orange with ribbons and cowbells around their ankles.
“Together, we walked to the farmhouse to the music of Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Eva Cassidy, the cowbells signaling our arrival to the waiting guests.”
But this will not last and soon marital happiness turned into marital stress. The couple have spent a magical year together. But a few months after their first wedding anniversary on October 5, 2020, Pedro started working late and appeared to “lose interest.”
“I racked my brains to figure out what was wrong. Our marriage limped for a few more months, but the magic was definitely gone. Unfortunately, we have decided to go our separate ways.
Taking only the bare essentials, Andrea moved into a trailer on the land she was living on when she arrived in Portugal.
She says: “In the middle of an unusually cold Portuguese winter, I shivered over Christmas in an icy trailer.
Looking back, Andrea says she may have let go of her heart too quickly, but doesn’t think it’s a bad thing and refuses to change.
“After my three happy years with Pedro, my little oasis just wasn’t the same. When I collected other things, Pedro had put everything in boxes.
“I browsed through them in tears on New Years Day. And found my beautiful wedding dress carelessly crumpled into a ball.
She was heartbroken but decided that was enough. She went out and lit a bonfire, throwing her wedding dress into the flames.
She said, “Afterward, I felt purified and surprisingly liberated. New year, new start, I said to myself.
Since this new start, Andrea has changed her life, but admits that sometimes it was not easy.
Andrea spent last Christmas shivering alone during an unusually cold December after her marriage to Pedro broke up
“I survived the coldest winter for eleven years in the trailer and my car ended up in the scrapyard,” she said.
However, her massage business took over and she moved into a rented cabin. Her divorce is currently pending before the courts.
She says, “To this day, I don’t understand what went wrong with my marriage. Maybe I gave my heart away too easily, but that’s not always a bad thing and I don’t want to change.
Andrea is looking to the positive this year and this Christmas will “open my door to new friends”.
“I’m in a better place this year and feel like life has come full circle. I can’t wait to celebrate Christmas with friends in my new home. ‘
Pedro said: “Andrea has lost her meaning.”