Discriminating coherent states of light is an important instance of quantum state discrimination that is central to all applications of laser light. We obtain the ultimate quantum limit on the error probability exponent for discriminating among any M multimode coherent-state signals via the recently developed theory of the quantum Chernoff exponent in M-ary multi-copy state discrimination. A receiver called the Sequential Waveform Nulling (SWN) receiver is proposed for discriminating an arbitrary coherent-state ensemble using only auxiliary coherent-state fields, beam splitters, and non-number-resolving single photon detectors. An explicit error probability analysis of the SWN receiver is used to show that it achieves the quantum limit on the error probability exponent, which is shown to be a factor of four greater than the error probability exponent of an ideal heterodyne-detection receiver on the same ensemble. Apart from being of fundamental interest, these results are relevant to communication, sensing, imaging, and quantum information processing systems that use laser light.