From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
Elton John and longtime partner David Furnish had long wanted to make honest men out of one another. Finally, the law cooperated: On Dec. 21, as England legalized same-sex partnerships (couples are not technically married but are entitled to many of the same legal benefits as married people), the couple exchanged vows at Windsor's Guildhall. Some rules, however, were made to be broken—like the Guildhall's no-pet policy. According to a Guildhall source, John and Furnish insisted their spaniel Arthur needed to be present because he was the best man. The 20-minute ceremony, which ended with a kiss between a teary John, 58, and Furnish, 43, was “wonderful,” John told PEOPLE. “Just great.” Said Furnish's father, Jack: “It's one of the happiest days of our lives.”

One of the happiest evenings too, thanks to a lavish reception for 700 held under two white tents (decorated with 90,000 roses) at the couple's nearby mansion. Pals, including Sting and Elizabeth Hurley, dined on roasted lamb and pink-champagne truffles, while singer Joss Stone sang the Beach Boys' “God Only Knows.” Said their rep Gary Farrow: “It all went like a dream.”