A long, winding marital road leads McCartney to US heiress

  • @tompeck

In a simple ceremony attended by little more than a dozen guests Paul McCartney and his new wife Nancy Shevell showed yesterday afternoon that all you need is love (and that love is all you need). The couple were married at the Old Marylebone Town Hall in central London, the same setting for the former Beatle's marriage to his first wife, Linda Eastman, in 1969.

Forty-two years later, the scenes outside were equally enthusiastic, with several hundred fans and dozens of television crew and press photographers waiting since the early morning for the couple to arrive. No one knew when the wedding was scheduled to begin. That it was even to take place at Marylebone Town Hall was only confirmed when police arrived to clear the steps.

On the day that, coincidentally, would have marked John Lennon's 71st birthday, the couple eventually arrived in a burgundy Lexus shortly after three o'clock, emerging together to cheers and a flurry of flashes. Ms Shevell, an American businesswoman and heir to a freight empire, wore an elegant ivory dress said to have been designed by Sir Paul's daughter, the fashion designer Stella McCartney.

The only other surviving Beatle, Ringo Starr, and his wife Barbara Bach attended, as did Sir Paul's five children. Beatrice, his seven-year-old daughter by his second wife, Heather Mills, acted as flower girl, though her mother, with whom Sir Paul went through a highly public and acrimonious divorce in 2006, did not make the list of invitees.

Ms Shevell, 51, and Sir Paul, 69, first announced their relationship in 2007, just over a year after he had paid former wife Ms Mills £24.3m in a divorce settlement. They were engaged in May this year.

Among those waiting outside was Italian Beatles fan Chiara Amato, who held specially made balloons, and said she had sat outside the register office every day since 29 September in anticipation of the wedding.

Linda Tomlinson, a 22-year-old theatre worker, briefly became the focus of the waiting masses by showing off her extensive Beatles tattoos, including a large portrait of Sir Paul on her right calf. "I love the Beatles. It is pure musical genius. You listen to their music and it makes you happy. But more to the point, Paul is just gorgeous."

Money, of course, can't buy love, but both parties in this marriage are not short of it in any case, as was made obvious at what appeared to be a lavish reception last night in the garden of Sir Paul's St John's Wood home.

Sir Paul shook hands with fans and gave hi-fives as he and his new wife arrived there at around four thirty yesterday. He said he felt "absolutely wonderful. Ms Shevell didn't comment, but grinned and winked at the waiting fans and journalists.

Around 150 chairs were seen being wheeled into a specially erected marquee, as well as vast bouquets of flowers, temporary ornaments and fridges full of champagne. Children's entertainers from Sharky and George were also spotted entering. But the biggest treat of the night was expected to be a performance from the groom himself of a new song penned especially for the occasion. He was reported to be intending to also perform "Let It Be", and "Let Me Roll It", a Wings track on which Ms Shevell is particularly keen. Guests were served a three-course vegetarian organic meal, an acknowledgment of Linda, who , who, with Sir Paul, raised their children at the house, not far from Abbey Road studios.

The couple are expected to honeymoon in the Caribbean, and then divide their time between London and New York.

The long and winding marital road

* Paul McCartney married the American photographer Linda Eastman on 12 March 1969, who at the time was four months' pregnant with their first child. The devoted couple were barely pictured apart and McCartney often stated they spent less than a week away from each other during their entire 29-year marriage. McCartney said Linda was the woman who "gave me the strength and courage to work again", after the break-up of The Beatles. McCartney – who adopted Linda's daughter, Heather, from her first marriage, and the couple had three children, Mary, Stella and James – taught his wife the keyboard and included her in the line-up of his band Wings. Linda also launched a vegetarian food range under her name. She died of breast cancer in April 1998.

* Heather Mills and McCartney met at a charity event in 1999 and the couple were married in June 2002 in Castle Leslie, Ireland. She took the name Heather Mills-McCartney, and the marriage started well – she went on every tour with McCartney and in October 2003 gave birth to Beatrice Milly McCartney. But the former model and anti-landmines campaigner, who lost her left leg below the knee when she was hit by a police motorcycle in 1993 and later became a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations, faced heavy media scrutiny when the marriage broke down, leading to a public and ugly divorce. Mills, who initially sought £125m from McCartney, was awarded £24.3m in a settlement in 2008. The judge in the case famously branded Mills "devoid of reality" adding she was "inconsistent, inaccurate and less than candid" while her former husband was "honest".