The new Mr and Mrs — after just 44 years spent together

Sydney and Sylvia have tied the knot. Finally!


Sydney Altman describes himself as a man “who believes in taking it easy and not rushing into anything”.

But after 44 years, his partner Sylvia Wayne decided it was finally time to act. Back in April, the retired shopkeeper decided to pop the question to her 87-year-old partner.

“I wanted to make an honest man of him,” laughed the 93-year-old great-grandmother from Gants Hill, ahead of her big day this week.

The couple, who first got together in 1972, finally became man and wife on Tuesday afternoon. Surrounded by friends and family, they were married at Enfield Register Office, and followed that with a celebratory tea at a luxury country hotel.

The bridal party braved the unseasonably wet weather to throw confetti at the pair as they emerged from the registry office as man and wife.

“It went so beautifully,” said the new Mrs Altman, from her home on Wednesday morning. “Everybody enjoyed themselves so much. Everything was wonderful — except for the weather!”

So what took them so long?

“In the beginning I didn’t see the reason for it,” explained Mrs Altman, who was widowed almost 50 years ago.

Her delighted new husband, originally from Glasgow, agreed. “I never asked my Sylvia to marry me because that wasn’t on the cards then.

“Her husband died very young and I’m one of those guys who believes in taking it easy and not rushing into anything.”

Sylvia proposed over lunch one day, while her daughter Janis Keen was visiting.

Mrs Keen, 65, said: “She sat in a chair opposite him as we were having lunch and she said ‘would you like to marry me?’. He put his hands up and said ‘at last’.”

The new Mrs Altman, who used to run lingerie and childrenswear shops in Barkingside, wore “dusky pink” for her second big day. She also had three bridesmaids and a page boy — her great-grandchildren. Once the tea was over, it was back to Mrs Keen’s house in Brookman’s Park for further celebrations.

Speeches were made by the groom, Mrs Keen, her brother Nicholas, who travelled from America and the best man — grandson Simon Keen.

Then, late at night, Mr Altman braved the rain to drive his new bride home, though he chose not to carry her across the threshold.

Mrs Altman said: “Janis said ‘why don’t you get a taxi?’ But there was no need. Sydney may not be able to walk properly, but he’s a wonderful driver!”

The pair met in 1972 at a social event that Sylvia ran for singles. Sydney had been briefly married but did not have children.

However, he was immediately welcomed into the family and feels the wedding will further strengthen his bond with Sylvia’s family, including her great-grandchildren.

“When I look at those wee kids and know they are mine by law now, that means a lot,” he said.

And a particular highlight for him was hearing his “son” call him “Dad” for the first time.

The couple really got into the swing of things and even had a hen and stag do. Mr Altman, a retired pharmacist, said: “I had to walk along the street wearing a sash that said ‘groom to be’ and I wore it across my chest.”

“They do everything backwards,” laughed Mrs Keen, who organised the nuptials.

She added: “It’s a bit surreal, partly as so many of my peers have lost their parents and we tend to be going to funerals and stone settings. So the fact that I’ve organised a wedding makes me feel very blessed and lucky.”

The wedding could not have been less like Mrs Altman’s first, which took place in a Stamford Hill synagogue in 1942 when the bride was just 18.

“My first wedding was during the war and wasn’t very grand,” she said.

“We sat up all night cutting sandwiches. We had no money and ended up £30 in debt. Then my husband went off to war.”

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