Before the days of swiping right, St Andrews couple Stacey and Frank Weigel met the old fashioned way – by banging into one another while dancing in a nightclub in 2006.
Only this particular nightclub was on the other side of the world, in Auckland, New Zealand – far from home for Kilsyth-born hairdresser Stacey, and German construction manager Frank, who hails from just outside of Dresden.
Now the pair are making a home in St Andrews with their two sons, aged 10 and 12.
But it’s been a long road home for Stacey and Frank, littered with caravans, hippies, nudist in-laws and 1,000 bottles of beer.
In the first instalment of The Courier’s new series, How We Met, the Weigels share their love story.
How we met
Stacey: We met in a nightclub in Auckland, New Zealand, on the dancefloor. We banged into each other, started dancing.. and never stopped. I was 27.
The weekend after that, Frank took me on my first date, which was fishing! He reeled me in!
Frank: The story we tell our kids is that our noses bumped into each other. That was 2006, I was 28. I had been there for three years. I’d been travelling and just ended up staying, enjoying my life.
The first thing I noticed about Stacey was probably her accent, it was pretty striking… and we must have got talking somehow!
Stacey: I was in the middle of a backpacking trip. I had left Scotland a year prior, and had gone through Canada, North America, South America and Fiji in my first year. And the plan was to stay in New Zealand for a year, and then carry on up through Asia.
But I had only been in New Zealand for six weeks when I met Frank. And six weeks after that, we moved in together. So I decided to stay in New Zealand for an extra year to give us a chance.
It’s mental, considering I’d never told anybody I loved them, had never been in love before. So as cheesy as it sounds, Frank is my first love.
Although I actually couldn’t say it for a long time, and he said it constantly, so I wrote him a card, and put at the bottom: ‘I love you!’
I’d had a couple of boyfriends before Frank but nothing serious. I wasn’t interested, I wanted to travel so I just never got involved with anybody.
But I thought after that extra year, if it’s meant to be, he’ll come with me. Because no man was going to stop me on my path!
Frank: I was absolutely up for it. I definitely wanted to stay with Stacey, that was the right thing to do.
I stayed behind while Stacey went on to Thailand and up towards Cambodia, to sort some stuff out. And then after a couple of months I joined her in Cambodia.
We did Lao, went back to Thailand, on to England and then back up here, where we stayed with Stacey’s mum in Kilsyth.
Kids, a caravan, and California hippies
Stacey: I always say we did everything the wrong way round. We had our children, then our honeymoon, then we got married – and then we got a house!
I had just not long turned 30. I got that urge and said: ‘I think I’d like to have a family, what do you think?’ And he just went: ‘If I’m not ready now, I’ll never be, so why not?’
Frank: We decided to have a child, well before we got married! A couple of years after we arrived in Scotland. So soon our eldest son came along, he’s 12 now.
Then Stacey said to her mum: ‘If I won the lottery, I’d really like to travel Europe.’ And her mum said to her: ‘You know what Stacey? You’re not going to win the lottery. You’ve got some money. Go and do it.’
Four weeks later we had bought a cheap caravan, and we had a cheap car already. And off we went! Down to England, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Morocco, Portugal. We had saved a house deposit, and we spent that.
Then while we were still on the road, my cousin from America emailed saying: ‘I’m building a house, do you want to come and help me?’ And we just looked at each other and said: ‘Yep! We’re going.’
Stacey then fell pregnant again, and we went to California for three months.
Stacey: Frank helped his cousin build the house and I hung out with all the hippies in Grass Valley, Nevada.
His cousin lived in a yurt and we lived in an RV, and I just went for two-hour naps everyday with my son. We’d go to the river, or veg out in the forest.
I tried to have my second baby in America so he would have citizenship, but because we had just travelled in Europe for a year, we didn’t have a lot of money and it was going to be £10,000 to have a baby there.
So we flew home on the last day allowed, and then a few weeks later, our second son arrived in January 2013.
Love and marriage, and 1000 bottles of beer
Stacey: It was about 2015 or 2016, and I said to Frank, ‘You better ask me to marry you before our ten-year anniversary, or I’m leaving you’.
He said, ‘Alright then, you want to marry me?’
And I said: ‘Aye well I suppose so.’
Frank: It was a DIY wedding. We did all the decorations, did all the flowers, bought all the drinks. It was a family effort, it brought everybody together before and after.
I had to buy enough drinks to make it a free bar, because my friends from Germany were coming. I knew if they would’ve come to my wedding and had to pay for a drink, that’s all they would talk about!
Stacey: We had something stupid like 1,000 bottles of beer left over!
Cultural difference – and getting naked in front of the in-laws
Frank: I’ve been away from Germany for 20 years now, but there are a lot of differences.
Stacey: My family are a lot more open than Frank’s.
Frank: Although my parents are nudists, so they’re more open that way!
It’s a normal thing in Germany. My parents have got a caravan on a small lake in a forest, it’s very private. But people don’t like bringing guests who then don’t participate, because then they feel like they’re in a zoo. So you’re either there or you’re not.
Stacey: The first ever time I went to Germany, I said to Frank: ‘You better keep your clothes on to support me, I’m not getting naked!’
And then when we arrived, he just got naked! But all of a sudden, I just thought: ‘F*** it! When in Rome!’
So there was Frank’s mum and dad, in their wellie boots, doing the garden. There was the neighbours over the wee picket fence: ‘Guten tag!’
Needless to say, I’ve never been back to Germany in the summer ever since. I just go at Christmas.
‘St Andrews is our new Australia’
Stacey: We had still always planned in the back of our heads to eventually emigrate to Australia. We’d tried once before and it had fallen through, so we started the ball rolling for the second time.
Frank: I was booked in to do my English language test – for the second time – on March 18 2020. And then Covid happened, and everything shut down.
Stacey: That seemed to hit the nail on the head. So St Andrews is our new Australia!
I came to St Andrews all my days on family holidays. My gran and papa had their honeymoon here, in St Andrews, and ever since then, the whole family have come. We’ve got a family bench that overlooks Castle Sands.
And then Frank sent me a link to a house which was two doors up from this one and asked what I thought. I was baffled! I never thought we could afford to move to St Andrews.
Frank: I saw the link on the Wednesday or Thursday. On the Sunday we came to see it. And on the Monday we’d put an offer in – but we never got it.
Stacey: Someone said to me: ‘Why don’t you go up and post letters through doors?’
So we printed 50 letters, wandered the area looking for houses that needed work, finished posting all the letters, and we were just about to hop in the car to go home when my phone rang.
It was somebody saying: ‘Oh hi, you’ve just posted a letter through my dad’s door’. And the following weekend, the house was ours.
We’re pen pals with the old man who used to live here. He’s this very polite, beautiful man and we write letters to each other. We tell him all the progress on the house.
Lasting love – what’s the secret?
Stacey: Frank is very caring and attentive, and he’s a handy man to have about the house! He really is a great husband, a great dad. He gives me my confidence. He’s the rod in my back, my support. Takes too long on the toilet, mind.
I never imagined I’d be with anybody! I never had that fantasy as a wee girl. I was pretty anti-men because my first ever boyfriend was a big cheater, so he put me off. So I never envisioned this.
You have to go for it. What have you got to lose? Take the chance! Because if you don’t get what you want, do something else, try again – but at least you know you’ve tried.
Frank: The thing I love about Stacey is she’s always got a project on the go. She’s very hardworking and she keeps the family together. She’s a great wife, and homemaker. But she is too loud sometimes!
We are quite opposite. She gets me off my a***. We don’t cling to each other. But Stacey backs me up all the time. And we look for each other’s approval in a way, and encourage one another.
In a relationship, you need to compromise and support each other and work hard.
What we say every day:
Stacey: Good morning!
Frank: I love you.
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