An insider's report from Elton John's party

There were bad jokes, the guests danced to Bryan Adams and the hangovers will last for days. Elton John's wedding to David Furnish was just like any other - almost. Janet Street-Porter was on the guest list
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The Independent Online

There were no tantrums and no tiaras. Men in black tie - except, of course, for Jake from the Scissor Sisters, who's so skinny and drop-dead gorgeous that he could get away with a Christian Dior silver suit designed by Hedi Slimane. The road was lined with outside-broadcast trucks, hundreds of paparazzi and curious neighbours. Inside, a long candle-lined walkway led guests to the receiving line - the happy couple in black, with minimal jewellery; I think we can use the word tasteful - in a softly lit marquee surrounded by huge displays of white roses. Waiters brought trays of pink Champagne, and trays of jumbo chips with pots of caviar to dip them into. Sir Elton John and David Furnish have conducted their relationship in the glare of publicity for the past 12 years - the most famous gay couple in the world. Now, by entering into a civil partnership on the first day it was legally possible in England, they were determined that their celebrations would redefine wedding celebrations for a new era.

Up and down the country, gay men and women celebrated the formalising of their partnerships, too, but this particular party was the one everyone wants to hear about. In lots of ways, it was extremely traditional - all the relatives were invited, along with friends, the happy couple's loyal staff and even their favourite dog. The actual ceremony was witnessed by only their parents and a couple of friends, while Sam Taylor-Wood took the "official" photo and her husband, Jay Jopling, did a reading. Then it was lunch at home with the family.

Come evening, it was time for the knees-up. The trouble is, if you're Elton and David, your guest list totals 600, rather than the normal 200. Having done it four times, I'm a bit of an expert in wedding etiquette, and wondered whether this would stick to the conventions: would we have speeches at the sit-down dinner; would there be a best man; were dodgy jokes in order; would the groom and groom be slicing into a cake for the cameras?

As it turned out, we didn't sit down to eat until well after 9pm. By then, I'd had plenty of time to admire the amazing frocks: Tracey Emin in a huge, shocking, pink Vivienne Westwood crinoline; Taylor-Wood in bright green chiffon by Alexander McQueen; Victoria Beckham in a red, barely-there number by Roberto Cavalli; Elizabeth Hurley in shimmering white; Donatella Versace looking fabulous and fit after her spell in rehab, at least 24lb lighter, in a floor-length gown of solid black sequins; Cilla looked tremendous and so did Evie Bricusse, in dark red velvet with masses of pearls. It was one of those parties where everyone was determined to dress up to the nines for a couple of hosts who like nothing better than being surrounded by glamorous women in fuck-off frocks. Every female there glowed.

After dinner, our hosts started the speeches by touchingly telling us just how inspirational they found their friends, and, of course, thanking their families. So far, so traditional. And then Stephen Daldry, the director of Billy Elliot, took over as compere, and it was left to Jopling to make the first speech. It was delivered with his usual stylish aplomb and an enviable quota of jokes and one-liners about Elton's plans for a retirement home in a convent with his friends - I was referred to as "sister strop" - I really don't know where they got that idea from.

Then it was my turn. Elton had asked me a couple of weeks ago and I was thrilled to be able to contribute some thoughts about this unique occasion and their love for each other. I began by proposing a toast to Elton and David's mothers, Sheila and Gladys, for giving birth to two such one-off, extraordinary men who have so enriched our lives. Of course, I had to mention that, along with Michael Parkinson and Barry Humphries, I'd attended Elton's previous nuptials, in Sydney in 1984. On that occasion, a tubby fan tried to clamber through a stained-glass window during the ceremony and had to be pushed back by a couple of security men, but my speech was a celebration of how relationships can work. Elton has been through tough times, and from the moment he met David he started down a new road, on a journey where he was prepared to take risks, accommodate someone else's point of view (and we know how hard that is), but most of all, totally trust another person because he loved them. It has taken a long time for Elton to have the guts to grow up - he never needed or wanted to before - but David has made it possible.

David has had to make sacrifices - he said goodbye to his privacy in so many ways. Now he could stop making movies and take over from Kofi Annan - through living on the rollercoaster of their life together, he has acquired diplomatic skills second to none. Years of dealing with Elton and his little decorating ideas, his purchasing whims and his fast-changing dietary requirements and fashions in flowers, jewellery and table napkin rings have equipped David for peace negotiations in any war zone. Finally, I commented that with the heterosexual divorce rate running at about one in three - and I apologise for doing my bit - there is every possibility that these civil partnerships will represent to future generations a better role model than a heterosexual one.

My ordeal over, I could enjoy the cabaret - a dance from the three original boys from Billy Elliot in their jeans and tutus, and songs from Joss Stone and James Blunt. Then the stage morphed into a dance floor and I'm sure I embarrassed myself by shimmying with Bryan Adams, and Jake in his gorgeous suit. After Monday's stag night, where I "performed" a duet from Sweet Charity with Paul O'Grady, I think that my singing and dancing days are now officially over. That night, with the Pet Shop Boys, Gary Barlow and Lulu, and Adams and Jake performing, was a one-off. Now my liver is taking a rest and I'm going to lie in a darkened room for a couple of days. What a week - and what a wedding. But this pair was always going to do it in style. They've emerged with dignity and humility. And I've got the hangover to end them all.

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