After lawmakers approved gay marriage in Hawaii last month, the ceremonies have officially begun. The law went into effect last night at midnight, and six couples were quick to get hitched, the AP reports. At a Sheraton in Waikiki, those looking to tie the knot could join in a giant ceremony. "We started this battle 23 years ago and we get to finish it tonight," says an activist at the hotel. Indeed, Hawaii played a key role in the early gay marriage debate: When same-sex Hawaiian couples sought marriage licenses in the 1990s, a court battle ensued, resulting in the Defense of Marriage Act.
In the state, couples can apply for a marriage license and get married in the same day. That could be a boon for destination weddings in a state already well-equipped for tourist ceremonies. A University of Hawaii researcher says the state could see a $217 million increase in tourism thanks to the process. NPR speaks with an Arkansas couple already planning a wedding trip. "There's two things that came in effect when planning where we wanted to be married," says Cyrilla Owle. "First, like any couple, we wanted to see where we wanted to go for our honeymoon. So who doesn't want to go to Hawaii for their honeymoon, right? And the second reason was, where could we get a license?"