A ruling striking down Costa Rica's ban on same-sex marriage handed down 18 months ago took effect on Tuesday.

The first weddings took place at midnight as the constitutional court's ruling came into force, making Costa Rica the first nation in Central America where gay and lesbian couples can marry.

“Today, Costa Rica officially recognizes same-sex marriage,” President Carlos Alvarado Quesada said in a tweet.

“Today we celebrate liberty, equality and our democratic institutions,” he continued. “May empathy and love be the compass that guide us forward and allow us to move forward and build a country that has room for everyone.”

Alexandra Quiros Castillo, 29, and Daritza Araya Arguedas, 24, were the first to marry, NBC News reported.

The brides wore white dresses and exchanged vows before a small crowd due to coronavirus concerns. The ceremony was live-streamed.

In declaring that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, the high court gave lawmakers 18 months to change the law. Otherwise its ruling would take effect.

Conservative lawmakers last week attempted to delay the ruling another 18 months, arguing that other issues, including the coronavirus pandemic, had kept legislators from reviewing the decision.

A poll conducted in 2018 by the University of Costa Rica showed low support (30%) for marriage equality among Costa Ricans.