SEATTLE -

Same-sex couples in Washington state began reciting wedding vows at events across the state Sunday, on the first day that they could marry after the state's gay-marriage law took effect.

About 140 couples had registered to marry at Seattle City Hall, which had set up five chapels to accommodate the revelers. Starting at 10 a.m., cheers and applause regularly broke out as another couple's marriage became official. Weddings at city hall were to continue through 5 p.m.

Mayor Mike McGinn, who greeted couples as they arrived, called it a "great day, a joyous day."

"It's really wonderful," he said. "A new civil right is going to be recognized in this great civil institution."

Some courthouses, including in King and Thurston counties, opened at midnight, and started marrying couples. Private weddings were expected to take place across the state, as well as some other public events, including the marriage of two couples after the end of the first act of a Seattle Men's Chorus performance at Benaroya Hall, in Seattle. The Paramount Theater in Seattle was also to host a large wedding reception for couples.

Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples picked up their marriage licenses as early as 12:01 a.m. Thursday, but because of the state's three-day waiting period, the earliest weddings could take place was just after midnight, early Sunday morning. In King County, home to Seattle, more than 600 same-sex marriage licenses were issued by Saturday.