- 07.17.13 06:50 PM EDT
On Wednesday, Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal stamp of approval to a same-sex marriage bill in England, the final step needed for it to become law. The bill cleared Parliament on Tuesday and will allow for couples to start tying the knot next summer in Britain and Wales.
Introduced in January, the measure was opposed by many members of Prime Minister David Cameron's own Conservative Party. Cameron himself backed the bill. The country expects the first gay weddings to begin in 2014, first needing to update the pension system and clear up a few pending legal issues.
The bill allows for civil and religious marriages, providing the religious institution agrees to perform same-sex marriages. England's official church, the aptly named Church of England, won't perform same-sex ceremonies.
Britain has allowed same-sex couples to enter into civil unions since 2005.