LONDON - The first gay wedding ceremonies in Scotland took place on Wednesday just after the stroke of midnight, as two couples tied the knot in Glasgow.
Dressed in kilts, Joe Schofield and Malcolm Brown, both 42, entered the Trades Hall to the sound of bagpipes at 11:30 pm on Tuesday, and after the clock chimed midnight, the formalities got under way.
They exchanged rings and embraced before signing the marriage register. Then Liz Lochead, Scotland's national poet, read a specially-composed sonnet.
The couple also drank whisky from a quaich, a two-handled vessel often referred to as "the loving cup", as per the Scottish tradition.
"We'll go about our lives as normal, except I can confidently and happily say -- at last -- 'this is my husband'. That's great!" Brown told BBC television.
Across the city, Susan Douglas-Scott, 54, and Gerrie Douglas-Scott, 59, also tied the knot, with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as a witness.
"This a momentous day for equality in Scotland, one where same sex couples have the right to marry the person that they love," Sturgeon said.
"This will send a powerful message to people about the kind of country we are."
The Douglas-Scotts, who have five grown-up children, have been together for 18 years and entered a civil partnership in 2006.
Some 17 same-sex weddings were due to take place on the last day of the year, known as Hogmanay in Scotland.
Wednesday was the first day that wedding ceremonies could take place after a 15-day notice period from the law coming into effect on December 16.
More than 250 gay couples have already converted their civil partnerships into marriage this month.
Scotland is part of the United Kingdom but some of its laws are different to the rest of the country.
Same-sex marriage was legalised in England and Wales in March. Northern Ireland has no plans to introduce gay marriage.