Midnight weddings as Australia celebrates first official day of marriage equality

Same-sex couples have tied the knot at midnight across Australia on the first official day of marriage equality, celebrating the result of a hard-fought campaign.

One of the first ceremonies took place overnight near Tweed Heads, where athletes Craig Burns and Luke Sullivan timed their proceedings so the marriage would become official minutes after midnight.

"It's a very surreal feeling," Craig said in the lead-up to the event.

The pair first met three years ago and said they fell in love "straight away" before Craig popped the question at Byron Bay in March.

Athletes Craig Burns and Luke Sullivan were one of the first official ceremonies. Photo: Getty
Gillian Brady and Lisa Goldsmith tied the knot in Perth overnight. Photo: Getty

Same-sex marriage legislation cleared parliament on December 7, nearly a month after it was revealed 61.6 per cent of participants in a voluntary postal survey backed the change.

Amid scenes of jubilation same-sex couples were quick to lodge formal intentions to wed and while some were granted exemptions to the four-week waiting period, Tuesday is the first official day ceremonies can take place.

In Newcastle, 32-year-old Rebecca Hickson will marry her partner of nine years Sarah Turnbull, 34.

The pair said they wanted to be part of history and planned to also be one of the first couples to tie the knot in a ceremony from 8am.

"We've already had our big hoo-ha ceremony three years ago but now we get to declare our love for each other again and have it recognised as a real union," Rebecca said.

She described the build-up to the postal vote deadline as "a horrible time" but said the two are now excited to move beyond it.

Same-sex marriage legislation cleared parliament on December 7. Photo: Getty

Melbourne couple Ron Van Houwelingen, 50, and Antony McManus, 53, echoed Ms Hickson's feelings about the postal vote and said no country should have to endure the same "horrendous" process to legalise gay marriage.

On Tuesday, the long-time activists will also look forward and tie the knot where they first met as performing arts students three decades ago - at the former Prahran College of TAFE's David Williamson Theatre.

"I'm looking really forward to celebrating the victory," Ron said.

Craig and Luke met three years ago and said they fell in love

The two have already held more than a dozen commitment ceremonies, including in 1993 on their sixth anniversary when gay marriage "wasn't on the radar".

"I suppose it's been a wedding planned for 30 years but we've had really a month to get things together," Ron said.

"It's been quite hectic trying to organise that in such a short amount of time."

Tuesday is the first official day ceremonies can take place. Photo: Getty