At the stroke of midnight last night, England and Wales saw the first ever same-sex marriages. For the first time ever, a man could marry the man of his dreams; a woman could marry the lady she loved. Scotland passed a similar law in February; Northern Ireland, with its staunchly Christian politicians, is not planning on giving gay people equal marriage rights.

Writing in Pink News, Prime Minister David Cameron said he was ‘proud that allowing gay couples to marry will strengthen this country,’ with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg saying separately that ‘this nation will never forget the first day of same-sex marriage.’

Activist Peter Tatchell ‘rejoiced’, adding he spearheaded the campaign to open up civil marriage to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation – including organising the first challenge to the ban when five same-sex couples from OutRage! filed marriage licence applications at Westminster register office on 19 March 1992. As a leader of the Equal Love campaign, he has also championed the repeal of the ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships.

News photographers have been out and about since midnight taking photos of some of the happy couples as they got hitched. Here are some of the best of them – we bet they bring a tear to your eye…

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Neil Allard (L) and Andrew Wale speak to the media after their wedding in the Music Room of Brighton’s Royal Pavilion shortly after midnight on the day equal marriage became legal.