Same-sex couples in Australia have rushed to the alter to become some of the first in the country to be legally married.

Today is the first day same-sex marriage ceremonies can legally take place after legislation was passed in Australian parliament in December after a controversial postal vote on the legislation that some couples described as "horrendous."

Newlyweds Luke Sullivan and Craig Burns were one of the first to tie the knot in Queensland during a touching night-time ceremony which saw the pair exchange vows exactly one minute after the law came into effect.

The happy newlyweds kiss during their wedding ceremony at Summergrove Estate in Gold Coast, Australia. Photo / Getty Images
The happy newlyweds kiss during their wedding ceremony at Summergrove Estate in Gold Coast, Australia. Photo / Getty Images

The athletes married in a beautiful ceremony at the Summergrove Estate, in the Tweed Coast Hinterland, at 12am in front of 55 family members and friends, the Daily Mail reported.

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Daylight savings and time zones meant the grooms were one of the first couples in the country to officially be recognised as married under Australian law.

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

Craig Burns and Luke Sullivan held their nuptials in the middle of the night so at one minute past midnight they were legally wed. Photo / Getty Images
Craig Burns and Luke Sullivan held their nuptials in the middle of the night so at one minute past midnight they were legally wed. Photo / Getty Images

In a reverse-style wedding event, the couple hosted a pre-ceremony reception until 11.30pm when their marriage was officiated under a backdrop of fireworks.

It is a dream both Craig and Luke - who met online three years ago - thought may never become a reality.

"I couldn't help but have this thought, 'I might not have this opportunity'," Luke told 7news before his wedding.

Craig Burns and Luke Sullivan celebrate during their wedding ceremony. Photo / Getty Images
Craig Burns and Luke Sullivan celebrate during their wedding ceremony. Photo / Getty Images

The accomplished athletes became engaged in March 2016 after a touching proposal set on the rocks in Byron Bay, NSW, with both men dressed in Speedos as Craig popped the question on one knee.

Their A$50,000 nuptials were gifted by businesses across the state who donated their services towards one of the first legal same-sex weddings.

Craig, a sprinter, hopes to qualify for the next Commonwealth Games and will represent Queensland at the 2018 Queen's Baton Relay in March.

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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.

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.