A May-December Wedding Finally Puts a Brake on the Oldest Rolling Stone
Of all the storied Stones, bassist Bill Wyman rolled the longest without gathering moss. Divorced in 1969, soon after the Stones achieved world-class fame, he reportedly once claimed to have had "relations" with more than 1,000 women. But now, at age 52, the rock and roller is settling down. Last week Wyman put on a suit for one of the few times in 25 years and exchanged marriage vows with 18-year-old Mandy Smith. And it seems he means to honor them. "I hope this is forever," he said. "I just tore up my address book."
In a way, the Wymans' relationship has already proved to be uniquely durable. After all, it has lasted, more or less, for a third of the bride's life. Smith was a 13-year-old Catholic schoolgirl when she met the senior Stone at a 1984 record-award show. Raised in a public-housing flat, she was already, according to London's tabloid papers, partying her way through the local nightclub scene with her divorced mother, Patsy. Wyman, enchanted, wooed his Lolita with chocolates and flowers and then ensconced her for a while in a private school in London. Mandy's mother encouraged the match. "He's a Rolling Stone," she reportedly told her daughter, "and he chose you."
But Mandy's first taste of reflected fame left her hungry for the real thing. When her romance with Wyman cooled in 1986, she soon hooked up with Maurice Boland, a talent manager who promised to make Smith a star. Under his tutelage, Mandy landed a few modeling jobs and began to take herself seriously as a singer, cutting a 1987 record called "I Just Can't Wait." The title was apt, because that same year Smith declared herself fed up with both Boland and her lackluster career. "I'm sick of being serious, that's why I don't have a manager anymore," she told a London newspaper. "I just want to enjoy myself and not behave like a robot." Wyman, meanwhile, had reportedly worked his way through another brace of young lovelies and found no substitute for Mandy. On Easter Sunday of this year, he proposed.
Immediately, Smith began planning her dream wedding and allegedly designed the see-through pink invitations herself. The tabloids gleefully seized upon every detail of the upcoming nuptials, which were supposed to take place in an Anglican church in Central London on June 5. One paper reported a set-to between Smith and Mick Jagger's longtime companion, Jerry Hall, who was said to be vexed about the future Mrs. Wyman's plans to tour with the Stones after the wedding. Another said that the bride-to-be had banished her father, a snooker-club owner who left the family years ago, from the wedding. The tabs also claimed that Mandy, her heart set on a big traditional wedding, had been rebuffed by several Catholic churches because Wyman was divorced.
There was disappointment all around when the couple slipped away to the registrar's office near Wyman's reportedly $1.5 million Suffolk estate three days early.
There were just two witnesses to the 15-minute civil ceremony: Smith's sister, Nicola, 20, and Wyman's 27-year-old son, Stephen. Wyman's parents, who live on his estate, were not invited and reportedly didn't even hear about the ceremony until a few minutes after it ended—and just hours before the newlyweds appeared on a London talk show. "I'm very disappointed," Kathleen Perks said. "What mother wouldn't want to be at her son's wedding?"
As it turned out, she got her chance: After attending his-and-her stag parties and spending the weekend munching burgers from Wyman's new restaurant, Sticky Fingers, the happy couple appeared as originally scheduled at London's Church of St. John's, Hyde Park, for a ceremony to "bless" the union. A nervous Wyman arrived decked out in a pearl-gray suit and, it was whispered, a good deal of makeup. Smith, who was given away by her uncle, wore a $15,000 pink, green and white gown studded with imitation diamonds. Afterward, 500 guests repaired to the posh Grosvenor House hotel for a reception that reportedly set the bridegroom back $90,000.
Most of the Rolling Stones, who had flown in from France, left early. "We're tired," explained Jagger, who wore a mint-green suit, "but we might be back later. You know us lot—we're nighttime boys." Keith Richards and drummer Charlie Watts stayed long enough to express their doubts that marriage would make a new man of Wyman. "I wish Bill all the best," said Watts. "But I've never said this would be a good match."
But the newlyweds were steadfastly enraptured. Wyman, who can already hear the patter of little footsteps, has said he would "still be capable" of having children "for the next 20 years." Smith, for her part, was just pleased to be married. "It's great to be Mrs. Wyman," she said. "It's what I wanted for so long."
—Patricia Freeman, Janine Di Giovanni in London
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