Nicole Richie and Joel Madden’s Complete Relationship Timeline

The Simple Life star Nicole Richie and Good Charlotte musician Joel Madden have been married for over a decade and together for nearly two. The couple were early aughts royalty who paired off quickly and managed to stick it out much longer than most marriages forged during the time of Tumblr.

They now share two children and seem to have a happy relationship. Here’s that relationship’s complete timeline so far.

December 2006

The couple met at a party as many couples do sometime in 2006. Richie was 25 at the time, and Madden was 27.

“He was there hanging out with my girlfriend’s sister and we met very, very briefly,” she told 60 Minutes Australia. “He was very shy—just kind of kept to himself. I couldn’t get a read on him for the life of me.”

They were first linked romantically in December of that year when they were seen at the Roosevelt Hotel bar in Hollywood. Richie later shared details of their early relationship while On Air with Ryan Seacrest.

“When I met him, he said, ‘Have you ever watched The Wire?’ And so I lied and said that I did, so he would hang out with me,” she said. “Little did I know he literally dropped me in like, season 3, he’s like, ‘Oh cool, season 3, episode 4.’ I pretended to know everything and it was horrible, and then I hated the show.”

August 2007

The couple were interviewed by Diane Sawyer, and Richie confirmed that they were expecting their first child, saying, “I’m almost four months.”

Madden also shared, “There’s no way you can’t fall in love with her when you get to know her.”

November 2007

Madden told People, “Having a baby is the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me and to us. [We’re] really happy.”

December 2007

The couple launched their former charity the Richie Madden Children’s Foundation to offer direct assistance to families in need.

“We grew up in Los Angeles, and we want our child to be a part of the community, and to know that there’s a responsibility to help the community,” Madden said at the time. Before it closed, the couple used the organization to gift $200,000 to 100 mothers.

January 2008

The pair welcomed their first child, Harlow Winter Kate Madden, on Jan. 11, 2008.

February 2009

Madden announced that he and Richie were expecting a second child in February 2009, using his now deleted blog to say, “I am so happy to tell everyone that Harlow is going to be a big sister! God has truly blessed my family. Hope [you’re] all feeling as good as I am right now.”

June 2009

Madden told People, regarding if they’d find out their second baby’s sex ahead of time, “We waited on the first one, and it was such an awesome experience that we can’t wait to see what the next one is…It’s exciting to wait it out.”

He added that they were much less stressed this time around.

“It’s a lot easier,” he said. “You’ve already been through it, and it’s not as intense and dramatic. We’re a little more relaxed. It’s actually kind of nice.”

September 2009

Their second child, Sparrow James Midnight Madden, was born on Sept. 9, 2009.

October 2009

In response to questions about getting marriage during a Larry King interview, Madden said, “We’re really focused on our family, and…we already feel kind of married, you know? Our family system that we have down, we feel like this is a real family and marriage, one day it will come.”

February 2010

Richie confirmed that they had finally gotten engaged during an appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman.

“We’ve been engaged for a while so you’re all kind of late on that,” Madden said later in a tweet. “But Thanks for the hooplah all the same.”

He added, “P.s. thats why i love my family and friends. None of them are sources. All good tight lipped people who let us enjoy it! Thanks everybody.”

He told 60 Minutes Australia a few years later about the proposal.

“I hinted around at it, and she’s not one to beg anyone for anything. Every time I would hint, she was always so nonchalant,” he said. “I was waiting for her to go, ‘Oh! When are you going to ask?’ And that’s not the kind of woman she is. She keeps you on your toes for sure.”

He continued, “I just woke up one morning and I said, ‘What am I doing? I’m a fool. Why haven’t I asked her to marry me?’ And did it that night.”

December 2010

Richie and Madden were married on Dec. 11, 2010, on the estate of Richie’s dad, Lionel Richie in Los Angeles. The event was attended by Gwen Stefani, Gavin Rossdale, Benji Madden, and Samantha Ronson.

April 2013

During his 60 Minutes Australia interview, Madden shared more about their early days together.

“That’s like a religious experience,” he said of meeting her for the first time. “That’s like, a life-changing, cathartic event. Meeting the person you know is gonna be your wife…She’s my best friend. It’s the only person I’ve ever met that’s as influential on my life as my brother Benji.”

He also said that it was a different first impression for Richie.

“When I first would see her around, we were friends,” Madden said. “But I don’t think I’m the obvious choice. I’m always like, ‘Just give me a shot. Just give me one date.’ If I can get my foot in the door.”

Richie said she came around, explaining, “I think that part of what gravitates Joel and I together is our appreciation for the same things…He’s very romantic.”

July 2014

In July 2014, Richie revealed on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen that she set up Cameron Diaz with Madden’s twin brother, Benji Madden.

“I’m going to take responsibility for everything!” she said. “I am a devoted sister-in-law. I’m happy for anyone who is happy, and I want everyone to be surrounded with love.”

The couple also appeared on Oprah: Where Are They Now? in 2014 and talked about their partnership.

“We met, and we were partners from day one,” Richie told Oprah Winfrey.

September 2019

Richie told Us Weekly her secret to a successful relationship.

“I don’t know [if there’s] a secret [to it], other than we love to laugh and have fun,” she said. “It’s nice doing the journey of life together. Doing it with somebody else that has the same goals as you is a really fun way to live.”

She added that Madden is “the most supportive,” and shared their perspective on parenting.

“I think we just have to encourage kids to be themselves and to stand up for what they believe in and to stand up for something,” Richie explained.

December 2020

They celebrated their ten year wedding anniversary in 2020, with Madden sharing a sweet black-and-white pic.

“1​​0 years married with children ????❤️,” Madden captioned it. “Thanks honey you make life sweet.”

October 2022

Richie was asked again about maintaining a long marriage in an interview with ET Canada.

“I don’t have a secret. We just let each other be ourselves,” she said. “We have fun.”

When asked if it was “smooth sailing,” Richie admitted, “Not all the time…We’re both smooth operators.”

She also shared some memories of how she and Madden used to babysit her younger sister, Sofia Richie.

“I think Sofia was eight or nine when Joel and I started dating. And so she was kind of like …she wasn’t our first kid, but we were taking care of her and we were taking her to the movies,” she shared. “I get very emotional when I talk about her all the time. So I have to really pull back because I just love her so much.”

April 22, 2023

The couple were a part of Sofia’s wedding party when she married Elliot Grainge in an elaborate wedding held in the south of France, according to Vogue. Richie was her sister’s maid of honor.

November 2023

While on The Tamron Hall Show, Madden said of Richie, “She’s beautiful. That’s my queen. The only thing I’ve done longer than 17 years is the band. She’s been the greatest partner and you know, I feel lucky.“

Headshot of Aimée Lutkin

Aimée Lutkin is the weekend editor at Her writing has appeared in Jezebel, Glamour, Marie Claire and more. Her first book, The Lonely Hunter, will be released by Dial Press in February 2022.


Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar