29/03/2014 05:06 GMT | Updated 29/03/2014 05:59 GMT

Equal Marriage Arrives In Britain: 10 Pictures Of Pure Joy That Show Exactly Why This Is Such Wonderful News

Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Actor Andrew Wale (left) and guesthouse owner Neil Allard pose for photographs following their wedding service in the Music Room of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, as the new law permitting same sex marriage in England and Wales comes into force.

As of midnight today, 29 March, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act came into effect, allowing same-sex couples in England and Wales to wed at long last.

Politicians from the main parties have hailed the change in the law, while gay-rights advocates celebrated the move up and down the country last night.

As gay couples rushed to tie the knot last night, photos of their pure joy show exactly why this change in law is such a wonderful thing.

One of the first couples to take advantage of the change in the law got married at Islington Town Hall in London just after midnight.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell acted as chief witness at a packed ceremony as Peter McGraith and David Cabreza wed after 17 years together.

Mr Tatchell said the couple and all the others getting married had "made history" and "made Britain a more tolerant, equal place".

With a crowd of photographers, journalists and well-wishers waiting, the couple took the opportunity to highlight the international struggle for gay rights.

But Mr Cabreza added: "From a global and political perspective it's great too, but for us it's also about us and our marriage."

Photo gallery Equal Marriage: 10 Pictures Of Pure Joy See Gallery
Photo gallery Equal Marriage Comes To The UK See Gallery