Sometimes the things you love are right in front of your eyes, it just takes time to realise it.

This is certainly the case for Enniskillen couple Kia Lewis and Mandy Fleming who were among the many across Northern Ireland celebrating the legalisation of same-sex marriage on Monday which now gives them the chance to bind their love together like anybody else.

Best friends for 10 years, the couple got engaged in July and with no chance of having a wedding in Fermanagh at that stage, they were looking south to the Republic of Ireland for possible venues.

That has all changed as of midnight on October 21. Same sex marriages will be legalised in Northern Ireland from January 2020.

“Mandy took me to Lough Navar view point where a friend had a champagne picnic arranged and there she popped the question,” explained Kia. “I was so overjoyed. I had been with men all my life, but just happened that I fell in love with my best friend, what more could a girl ask for!”

Kia says they are no different to any other couple and there should be no difference when it comes to getting married either.

But she admits there was uncertainty about where they would get married.

“We had begun to look at venues in the south as we never knew if it would be legalised in the north. This landmark day has changed ours and our kids lives.

“It means so very much to us as my granny has just celebrated her 90th birthday and isn’t able to travel far, she now can have her dream come true of seeing me walking down the aisle.

“We always talked about and wanted to get married in the north but were pretty sure it wouldn’t be any time soon. We think every couple considers their options when they start wedding planning don’t they? So knowing that the option to get married in your home town with your nearest and dearest was never an option for us was upsetting.”

Kia believes that the historic day will give those struggling with their sexuality the confidence to live their lives the way they want to.

“There are so many struggling with their sexuality in Fermanagh and this ruling will show the next generation just to be YOU.

“I think there was definitely a part of us that was unsure as to whether it would happen at all. As for the community we believe that most people know or have a family member in the LGBT community and October 21 is a step in the right direction for the next generation.”

The next step for Kia and Mandy now is finding a venue for their wedding where they can bring all their incredibly supportive, parents, family and friends. And now they can look closer to home in Fermanagh.

“We are looking at 2021 for our wedding, and now we can explore beautiful Fermanagh and Northern Ireland’s venues.”

For some Monday was described as a dark day for Northern Ireland, but for Kia and Mandy the world has enough darkness but this is not a part of it but instead a bright future on a long road to equality.

“The world has enough darkness and bad news stories. This is about love between two people and their rights to be treated just the same as everybody else.

“Marriage is a celebration of love between two people, it’s a promise that everyone should have the right to make.

“The new legislation doesn’t change marriage, it only adds to the love and happiness in the world, and I think you would agree that we could all do with more of that! We really hope that in time that everyone will see this.

“To anyone who thinks that this is a dark day for Northern Ireland, I appreciate your opinion, but love is love at the end of the day.”