April 1, 2023

Contributor, PEOPLE
Elton John and David Furnish first met in the sweetest way: at a dinner party thrown by a mutual friend in 1993. The pair immediately hit off and the next day, they went on their very first date.
The couple entered a civil partnership in December 2005 and officially tied the knot nine years later once same-sex marriage became legal in the U.K. Their two sons, Zachary and Elijah, served as the ring bearers.
“If you’d had said to me 10 years ago I’d be sitting on your show married to the man I love and have two beautiful children I would have said, ‘You put acid in my drink.’ But life throws you challenges and life throws you curveballs — great curveballs,” the music icon said on The Ellen Degeneres Show in 2016.
From their first dinner date to raising two children together, here's a complete timeline of Elton John and David Furnish's relationship.
In an interview with Parade magazine, the “Rocket Man” singer revealed the story behind how he and Furnish met. At the time, John was living in Windsor, England, and he wanted to expand his group of friends.
"I wanted to meet new people so I rang up a friend in London and said, 'Could you please rattle some new people together for dinner here Saturday?' " he recalled. Furnish accompanied the friend to the get-together and he and John instantly connected.
"He had a real job, his own apartment, a car. He was independent. I didn't need to take care of him. I thought, 'God, this is new territory for me — someone wants to be with me just because he likes me.' I knew he was the one because he is not afraid of me. He always tells me exactly what he thinks," the singer explained.
The next evening, Furnish returned to John's home for a proper date that included Chinese takeout from Mr. Chow's restaurant. John added that they "fell in love quickly."
John proposed to Furnish in May 2005. He popped the question during a dinner party with their family and close friends at the couple’s home in Old Windsor. At the time, same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in Britain.
The couple registered their civil partnership at Windsor Guildhall government services and municipal offices in London. They had one of the first same-sex services in the country.
According to reports, their dog Arthur attended the nuptials and the couple showed up in a black Rolls-Royce before posing for fans and paparazzi outside the building. Thirty minutes later, they emerged as happy as ever. Fans threw rice at the couple and one onlooker even gave them a wedding cake.
John and Furnish celebrated their first anniversary with a date night.
“This year has gone so quickly and it has been a great year for us,” John told PEOPLE. “We feel great and we’re going to Venice to celebrate our anniversary and have a very quiet dinner together. We’re very happy.”
Furnish added, "(We're) very content and very nicely settled."
In 2009, John and Furnish visited an orphanage in Ukraine for children diagnosed as HIV-positive. They ended up bonding with a 14-month-old boy and attempted to adopt him. However, their marriage wasn’t recognized in Ukraine, and John was deemed too old by the country’s adoption standards. Despite not being able to adopt the young boy, John and Furnish did provide financially for him and his sibling. The encounter also made the couple realize that they wanted to start a family.
“I always said no to having kids, because I’m too old, too set in my ways, too selfish, the lifestyle doesn’t suit me,” John told Rolling Stone in 2016. “But I said, ‘This boy we met was trying to tell me something.’ He was trying to say, through God or someone else, ‘Bulls—, you can be a dad, look at how much pleasure I gave you in an hour and a half.’ And I said, ‘Let’s go for it.’ ”
On Christmas Day, John and Furnish welcomed their first child via surrogate, a son named Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John.
"We are overwhelmed with happiness and joy at this very special moment," the couple said in a statement. "Zachary is healthy and doing really well, and we are very proud and happy parents."
In an interview with Barbara Walters, John revealed that he was able to cut the umbilical cord and that he and Furnish did skin-to-skin bonding with Zachary on their chests.
The happy couple expanded their family by welcoming a second son, Elijah Joseph Daniel Furnish-John, via the same surrogate on Jan. 11, 2013.
“She [the surrogate] is a wonderful, kind and loving woman,” John told PEOPLE, adding that she is “part of [the] family.”
"All we hope is that Zachary and Elijah are healthy and happy," Furnish continued. "They will always be able to rely on us for total love and support, and we hope they grow up to live their own lives and be who they want to be, not who we want them to be."
On Oct. 25, 2014, John and Furnish were honored with the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award for their charitable work over the years. At the time, Furnish was chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which raised over $300 million for research and assistance to those living with AIDS.
Just after same-sex marriage became legal in the U.K., John and Furnish shared their intention to legally get married.
"We don't feel the need to take an extra step legally. But since we're committed for life, we feel it's really important to take that step, and take advantage of that amazing change in legislation. We all live by example," Furnish told the Las Vegas Review Journal, adding that they will keep the wedding small.
On the ninth anniversary of their civil partnership, John and Furnish officially married. They held a small ceremony at their Windsor estate in Berkshire and celebrity friends in attendance included Ed Sheeran, David and Victoria Beckham and Ozzy Osbourne, among others.
Their two sons, Zachary and Elijah, served as the ring bearers. "Our little ring bearers are fast asleep, and their shoes are polished and ready for tomorrow's celebration," John captioned an Instagram photo ahead of the big day.
The John-Furnish family matched in custom-made Donatella Versace tuxes to attend the 23rd annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party in West Hollywood. Although they attended a glitzy soirée, they still had to adhere to bedtime.
“They’re going to come in … say hi to the people they know and [then] get them home in time for their bath because we don’t believe in disrupting their routine,” Furnish told PEOPLE.
For Zachary’s 5th birthday, the family of four took a vacation to Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
"And so the adventure begins," John captioned a photo of him and his family in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle.
The boys and their dads also rode the teacups attraction, met Mickey Mouse and watched the Christmas Parade down Main Street.
Furnish threw his husband an epic 70th birthday party in Los Angeles. Despite the star-studded guest list, John told Beat 1’s Zane Lowe that for him, it’s all about celebrating family, and their time together has only gotten “better and better.”
"We've had our ups and downs like every other couple," he admitted. "Our love has grown stronger and stronger and you have to work at it, you know you're married."
He also called having children “the greatest thing you’ll ever know.”
When both sons attended their first day of school in 2018, the proud fathers celebrated by posting the same photo of their kids on their respective Instagram pages. The boys were photographed in their school uniforms while facing the building.
“Can’t believe how time is passing,” John captioned the photo. “They are growing up so fast in the nicest possible way. I love them more and more each day.”
Furnish later added, “And away they go…….”
John and Furnish agree that communication is the key to a happy marriage. In fact, the couple revealed that they have sent a love letter or message to one another every week since meeting in 1993.
“Every Saturday we gave each other an anniversary card, because we met on a Saturday,” Furnish shared with R&B artist 6LACK in his confessional series about love. “So, we wrote down, in like a little card that you put next to the bed, ‘Happy Anniversary.’ And you write about the week that’s passed and the week that’s coming, and you connect and you tell each other you love each other.”
Even while he was on the road, John sent the letters via fax.
"We go through difficulties as much as anybody else does in a relationship, but we sort through it by communication," John added. "And one way of communicating is writing down on a piece of paper or a card how you're feeling."
John and his frequent collaborator Bernie Taupin won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” which was featured in the biopic Rocketman. Furnish also worked on the film as a producer.
The musician was emotional while accepting the honor and thanked his writing partner along with his family.
"David, I love you so much," he said of Furnish. "And to my beautiful boys, who are watching this in Sydney, Zachary and Elijah, how much do I love you? Daddy loves you!"
In an interview with Today‘s Carson Daly, John shared that he would be completing his final tour, the Farewell Yellow Brick Road World Tour, which was originally slated to kick off in May 2022 in Frankfurt, Germany. John said that while he would miss “the reaction from fans,” which he added makes his “soul jump,” he has so much more to be grateful for.
“They’re going to be teenagers soon,” John told Daly of his two sons. “I need to be with them. “I’ll be 76 [when the tour is over],” he added, referencing the final European leg of his tour which was postponed until spring of 2023 due to a hip injury and the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I don't know how much time I have left on this earth after that. You know, I've had enough applause. I don't want to keep traveling. I don't want to be away from my family," he concluded.
John was previously knighted by Queen Elizabeth II back in 1998, but it wasn’t until November 2021 that he received an even higher honor from the royal family: becoming a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour.
Prince Charles anointed the “Tiny Dancer” singer at Windsor Castle with Furnish by his side to support him. John received the honor for his charitable works and his music.
Furnish celebrated the accomplishment on Instagram and dedicated a post to his husband.
"The most magical morning accompanying Elton as he collected his Companion of Honour at Windsor Castle," Furnish wrote alongside a photo of the two with the medallion. "So richly deserved. Congratulations my darling, I'm so proud of you."
Furnish wanted to take a moment to "celebrate the creation of Elton Hercules John" on the singer's 75th birthday. He posted a photo of John at the piano.
“75 years ago today he arrived on this planet. And he’s been rocking and rolling ever since,” Furnish wrote. “I can’t begin to imagine my life or a world, without this glorious, loving, kind, caring, beautiful man. A spectacular husband and a deeply devoted father. “Happy 75th Birthday my darling ?⭐️ I love you. Forever and ever ❤️❤️.”
Prior to the show’s opening night on Aug. 7, John and Furnish attended a preview of the long-awaited musical The Devil Wears Prada, The Musical in Chicago.
“So much fun at last night’s preview performance of Devil Wears Prada in Chicago,” Furnish wrote on Instagram. “Elton and I had a ball. Thanks to EVERYONE who has worked so tirelessly to lift our show to the heavens.”
John composed the show’s music and told PEOPLE in July 2022 that writing it was “a dream.”
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