Pop some Deutscher Sekt, because LGBT couples in Germany finally had the chance to officially tie the knot for the first time last weekend since the country legalized gay marriage over the summer.
On Sunday, Karl Kreile, 59, and Bodo Mende, 60, became Germany's first married gay couple when they said "I do" at Schöneberg town hall in Berlin, according to the BBC. The pair, who have been together for 38 years, exchanged vows in front of an excited crowd of people, beside a table loaded with beautiful white flowers and rainbow flags. Afterward, those in attendance celebrated the historic moment with sparkling wine and a huge cake decorated with a rainbow and the words "ehe für alle," which means "marriage for all."
"This is an emotional moment with great symbolism," Kreile told reporters before his wedding, according to The New York Times. "The transition to the term 'marriage' shows that the German state recognizes us as real equals."
Many other couples reportedly followed Kreile and Mende's lead. Several registry offices around the country, which are typically closed on weekends, opened on Sunday for the specific reason of officiating LGBT weddings on the first day they were legally allowed to do so. According to one Twitter user, two women named Daniela and Gerlinde were the first women to get married in the country on Sunday, not long after Kreile and Mende's ceremony.
Since 2001, Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, which did not offer LGBT couples the same legal rights, including tax benefits and the right to adopt children together, as heterosexual married couples. The German parliament voted on June 30 to legalize gay marriage, with all the rights and privileges of heterosexual marriage, in a vote of 393–262, after Chancellor Angela Merkel encouraged legislators to vote with their conscience rather than along party lines. Despite voting against the proposition, afterward Merkel said she hoped that "a piece of social peace and togetherness could be created" by the new law.