There was plenty of love laughter when Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood married theatre producer Sally Humphreys in an intimate and romantic ceremony at London’s Dorchester hotel, surrounded by rock’n’roll royalty.
“It was a wonderful affair, quite magical,” said Ronnie, who is sharing his and Sally’s spectacular wedding album exclusively with HELLO!. In return, the happy couple are donating their entire fee to a selection of their favourite children’s charities.
The rocker gave an emotional speech on his big day. “I wish I’d met Sall earlier,” he said of his new wife. “I can’t think of another girl more suited to me.”
Talking to HELLO!, Ronnie added: “Sall looked beautiful walking through the the doorway with her niece Heather.” Sally, whose office is at London’s Ambassadors Theatre, describes the nuptials as “very personal and sweet”: “It was lovely.”
While the couple wanted a low-key wedding, it was attended by some of the biggest names in music, with their guest list including joint best men Sir Paul McCartney and Rod Stewart.
“The day was like a very special gig,” said Ronnie. “It was like going on stage again, but it was like it was everyone on stage, not just me.”
Other famous names included Kenney Jones from the Faces, Kelly Jones from the Stereophonics and BBC Radio 1 DJ Fearne Cotton, who is engaged to, and expecting a child with, Ronnie’s son Jesse. The guitarist’s other children Leah and Tyrone also took pride of place in the front row.
“It was really nice to have support from them,” said Ronnie, 65. Jesse is his son from his marriage to Krissy Findlay, while Tyrone’s and Leah’s mother is Jo Wood. “They are happy to see their dad happy.”
Sally, 34, explained that the wedding had been booked recently at the Dorchester after looking at a number of London wedding venues.
“Guests didn’t know about it until a couple of days before,” said Sally, who announced the engagement in October. “It was just my parents and the best men who knew about it.”
The couple, who were friends for nine years before they began dating earlier this year, chose to marry near Christmas because it’s a “family- central time”.
It is also a good time to be surrounded by friends, with Sir Paul and Rod delighted to attend. “They have always been very supportive of me and Sally,” Ronnie told hello!.
“I took Sally to Paul’s wedding [to Nancy Shevell, in October 2011]. He was saying at the time, ‘Wow, this is wonderful. You two make a great couple, are you going to make a go of it?’”
Joker Rod took a more jovial approach. “He was very funny,” said Ronnie. “He used to say to Sally, ‘Does your dad know about this then!?’
“I thought it very apt that the pair of them were my best men.”
His Rolling Stones bandmates – Sir Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts – were unable to make it. “Mick was in Mustique with his family for Christmas, Keith was in Connecticut for his birthday and Charlie wasn’t well and was down in Devon, but they all sent their best wishes and support.”
He and Sally – who first met when Sally was working at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and Ronnie was staging an exhibition of his paintings nearby – had spent the morning of their wedding at their home in London’s Holland Park before arriving at the Dorchester ahead of the 4.30pm ceremony.
“I was very calm and Ronnie was playing snooker in the morning,” said Sally. “I just wasn’t up for a big do where you get really stressed. This was the easiest, organised-in-a-few-days type wedding.” Just as well, given Ronnie had finished on the Rolling Stones’ 50 & Counting tour just six days before.
FROM MOTHER TO DAUGHTER
The bride wore a simple, elegant dress that her mother Alison had worn to her wedding more than 40 years earlier. After decades tucked away, it required some TLC and was consequently “re-imagined”.
“When Ronnie was in America on tour with the Rolling Stones in December, I took it to Tommy Hilfiger to be altered,” she explains.“It was so badly damaged from being folded in a drawer for 40 years, but they brought it back to life.
“They put layered fabric on the bottom half because it was so damaged underneath, but everything else was original.”
Sally also wore a heart-shaped pendant, which was a gift from Ronnie. “He designed it and his friend Aurora made it,” said Sally.
While the dress covered the traditional “something old” and “something new” wedding traditions, Sally had actually forgotten about the wedding ritual. Luckily she managed to acquire the “something borrowed” at the last minute. “A friend of ours, Caroline Clements, was doing the make-up and lent me her hairband about two minutes before,” she said.
The couple tied the knot in the Penthouse and Pavilion suite on the eighth floor of the Dorchester, which Sally entered on the arm of her father Colin.
“I feel very blessed to have a new family,” Ronnie told hello!. “My dad and brothers are no longer with us so it’s really nice to be welcomed by a
new gang. Her relatives are lovely.” While there was no shortage of musical guests, Sally said that they hadn’t given music much prior thought. “The Dorchester said they’d play some wedding music then, just before we left the house, we decided to take a blues CD that someone had given us. We didn’t know what we
were going to be listening to, but it was a good mix.”
The service included three readings. Sally’s sister Joanna Longbottom recited The One, which includes the lines: “When the one whose hand you’re holding is the one who holds your heart.” Her friend Maggie Lloyd-Williams read i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) by e e cummings, while Ronnie read the Deborah Brideau poem I Belong in Your Arms, which includes the lines: “Finally, I have found a place into which I fit, Perfectly, safely and securely with no doubts.”
There was a light-hearted moment when it came to exchanging the rings, when Rod offered his own wedding band instead of Ronnie’s Theo Fennell-designed ring.
Following a wedding breakfast of tea, cake and champagne came speeches by Sally’s father, Ronnie and his best men.
“Sally’s dad made an emotional and funny speech,” Penny Lancaster-
Stewart told hello!. “And Rod’s was a perfect tribute to his mate.”
Ronnie’s speech brought further emotion. Speaking of his and Sally’s relationship, he said: “I know that we have all the ingredients to make our marriage last forever.
“May our life be full of joy and laughter, love, creativity, inspiration and strength.”
The couple had chosen to marry on Friday 21 December, unaware that this was the date the Mayans had supposedly predicted the world would end. Referring to the date in his speech, Ronnie said:
“Everyone thought it would be the end of the world, but actually it’s the beginning of a new world.”
There was another coincidence: the date was also the film Snow White’s 75th birthday, he said, a nod to Sally’s resemblance to the fairytale princess.
He concluded: “I would like to say from the bottom of my heart, I love you Sall, my treasure.” Speech over, he jumped off his chair in celebration – to much laughter and applause.
Telling hello! about writing his heartfelt words, Ronnie said: “It just came flowing out. The laughter, inspiration and strength I get when I’m with Sally.”
The celebration was finished by 7pm. “It was quite short and sweet,” said Sally. “I don’t really like long, drawn-out, all-day wedding affairs.”
Having waved off most of their guests the couple squeezed in one more celebration when Rod and Penny took them to The Ritz.
Does their relationship feel different now that they are married? “It does,” said Sally.
“As husband and wife you feel very united and very protective of each other.
“It gives you a real bond and a real sense of being proud and wanting to look after someone.”
Added Ronnie: “We just feel more secure. We have a very easy relationship and a great understanding that normally takes years for people to cultivate.”
A newspaper recently reported that the couple are planning to start a family soon. While saying there was no truth in that report, Ronnie added: “It would be a lovely idea one day but that’s not why we got married.”
In the meantime they’re concentrating on some more celebrations – a honeymoon in the Caribbean some time next year and a larger party to mark their wedding. “Maybe on my birthday [in June],” said Ronnie. “We can have a big bash and invite all our friends. “It’s been a blinding year,” he added. “Really wonderful and so creative. The wedding was a culmination of all that.”
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Ronnie and Sally donated all of their fee to a selection of children’s charities close to them. These include the Ben Kinsella Trust, the Tom Cocklin Memorial Trust and Thusha Kamaleswaran Appeal.