Dearly beloved, we are here to witness the story of some of Britain’s oldest newlyweds. Because inspirational Black Country couple Bill Griffiths, 90, and 96-year-old Florence ‘Flo’ Marshallsay have proved it is never too late to live happily ever after by tying the knot.
The pair – who have known each other for almost 20 years and lived together for the best part of a decade – exchanged their vows at St Hilda’s Church in Warley Woods at a packed ceremony.
With nearly 190 years between them the happy couple have made headlines around the world.
Albion fan Bill wore a Baggies tie for the service, while Flo – who was given away by her grandson Mark – donned a dress handpicked for her from John Lewis.
The ‘wonderful’ occasion was led by the pair’s family friend Rev Paul Hinton.
Speaking afterwards Flo, who ran the Malt Shovel pub in Dudley for nearly 40 years, said: “It’s nice, it’s really quite something.
“Reverend Paul was mentioning all these countries and I didn’t know what he was on about. Then I worked out they have all been saying we’re the oldest people to get married.
“The church was full, it was amazing. It’s been absolutely wonderful.”
Father-of-three Bill, a former engineer who worked for BKB Electric in Birmingham, used to go dancing with his late wife Joan, before she died in 1997.
It was there he first met mother-of-two Flo.
After Joan died the couple became inseparable, eventually agreeing to move in to Bill’s house in Oldbury.
“At one of the dances I said to Joan ‘can I have your husband when you’ve finished with him?’ and she said ‘you can have him now if you want!’
“But I never thought it would actually happen.
“I was gobsmacked when he asked me to marry him.”
The emotional occasion got to Bill who shed tears as he escorted his new wife down the aisle.
Family and friends travelled from across the country for the heartwarming service.
Bill, who still swims weekly with his daughter, Anne, popped the question to Flo last year ‘out of the blue’.
His son Peter said: “It has all gone really well, the whole day has been amazing and a really lovely reunion for the families.
“They’ve been living as man and wife for 10 years or so now, but one day dad just looked at me and said ‘I’d like to ask Flo to marry me’. I told him he had better ask her as she was sat next to him
“She said yes, then they had a big hug and that was that.
“It proves it’s never too late to live happily ever after.
“I’m absolutely over the moon for them.”
Addressing the packed church, Rev Hinton said: “It is not every day that a vicar anywhere has the privilege of marrying two people whose combined ages would make a very good cricket score.
“And it is certainly not every day that nearly 200 years of wisdom, experience and love are brought together to make these age-old vows. Both of you have experienced years of love from one another. Both of you have incredible spirit, amazing endurance and fantastic faith. Both of you come here today because you want God to bless your life together.
“I know how much you do for each other and how you cannot live without each other.
“I know that this marriage is based on huge sacrifice and dedication.
“I know that your very presence here together is an inspiration to us.”
During the service, Hymn 516 – Love divine, all loves excelling – and Hymn 594 –The Lord is my Shepherd – were read out, alongside a reading from the book of Corinthians about how ‘love never ends’.
After tying the knot Bill and Flo enjoyed a reception at the Eaton Hotel in Hagley Road, Birmingham where they stayed the night.
Their plans for a honeymoon to Cornwall have fallen through after a friend they were due to stay with fell ill.
Instead they are due to spend a few days with Flo’s daughter-in-law Lorraine Marshallsay in Southwell, and are planning time away in St Ives later in the year.Subscribe to our Newsletter