Gay and lesbian couples can begin marrying in Maryland as early as Jan. 4, after 52 percent of state voters approved of same-sex marriage on Election Day.

In some counties, couples may be able to apply for marriage licenses immediately, though they won't be able to receive the licenses until Jan. 2 at the earliest, according to Alan Brody, spokesman for Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler. They can get married 48 hours later.

Many gay couples across the state are already planning their nuptials.

Referendum results
County For Against
Anne Arundel 52 percent 48 percent
Baltimore County 51 percent 49 percent
Baltimore City 57 percent 43 percent
Frederick 51 percent 49 percent
Howard 59 percent 41 percent
Montgomery 65 percent 35 percent
Prince George's 49 percent 51 percent
State total 52 percent 48 percent

Brigid Monaghan, who lives in Silver Spring with her partner of nearly 25 years and their 15-year-old son, said she and her partner were planning to move ahead with their wedding whether Maryland legalized gay marriage or not.

But Monaghan said she is proud to be able to celebrate in Maryland, where she grew up. They are even considering incorporating local staples -- like crab-based entrees and a cake from Smith Island Cake, Maryland's state dessert -- as a way to celebrate the state for passing the law.

"We waited and this is why -- so we could do it here."

Baltimore County resident Vanessa Bowling and her partner have been planning their wedding for a few months. Though they're not officially engaged, her partner asked Bowling's mother's permission to marry her daughter "and of course, my mother said yes," Bowling said.

Like Monaghan, Bowling said they would have gotten married in the District if Maryland didn't legalize gay marriage, but it wouldn't have felt right.

"I am a lifelong Maryland resident," she said. "I shouldn't have to go somewhere else to get married."

Those in the wedding industry say the new law could be a financial boon.

Gia Magliano, president and CEO of event-planning firm Baltimore's Best Events, predicted her business will triple in the first year as a result of the change.

D.C.-based wedding planner Charlotte Jarrett, who runs Charlotte Jarrett Events, said she is currently planning the March wedding of two gay men. "I'm definitely going to see a lot more coming soon."

And if the weddings are anything like Monaghan's -- who expects to spend between $10,000 and $20,000 -- or Bowling's -- who is planning for 300 guests -- they won't be small affairs.