"To put it in Elton's exact words, when he got the invitation, he was 'a little surprised,' " his partner David Furnish told PEOPLE on Sunday at the Tony Awards in New York. "And then, when it turned out to be a genuinely sincere invitation … Elton said, 'Life is about building bridges, not walls.' "
John also saw it as another opportunity, in his words, "to go where people wouldn't expect me to go."
"And maybe if I can make a great impression," Furnish quoted him as saying, "people might change their perspectives on life."
Furnish was in Europe and couldn't attend the wedding. But John told him it was a beautiful event and Limbaugh and his bride "were incredibly gracious and very welcoming and very sweet and very appreciative."
"Elton, during the performance made a lot of cracks: 'I suppose you all wonder why I'm here tonight?' " says Furnish. "But ultimately, it's a bit like an olive branch, I guess."
By all accounts, John and the couple got along well. "I wasn't there, but from everything Elton told me, he said Rush and his bride were incredibly charming and welcoming. And they have said they want to come and have dinner with us in England, if they pass through in their travels."
The tentative offer was welcomed. "We have to bring the world together, not apart," said Furnish, who produced Next Fall with Sir Elton on Broadway.