For every bride in the middle of wedding planning, Love Island star and newlywed Olivia Buckland has revealed the three biggest lessons she learnt from her planning journey.
Olivia tied the knot with fellow Love Islander Alex Bowen in a lavish ceremony at Gosfield Hall in Essex on 15th September in front of 98 day guests and 150 more evening guests.
With social media followers hailing her day more exciting than Harry and Meghan’s wedding and a camera crew capturing every hiccup, triumph and bridezilla moment, Olivia knows the pressure of wedding planning better than most.
Now the dress is packed up and the thank you cards on their way, Olivia told Hitched the biggest lessons wedding planning taught her and the advice she wished she’d known before her big day.
READ MORE: 11 Wedding Things You’ll Regret Not Doing
1. Have a Videographer
“I’m so glad we can watch it back. Ours was filmed but we had a videographer as well doing home videos for us and it was the best thing you can ever have. I had a friend who didn’t have a videographer and she regrets it so much,” Olivia revealed.
READ MORE: 22 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Videographer
“It’s definitely one of my biggest pieces of advice, definitely have someone video the day so you can remember it and watch it back because it does feel like it never happened.”
Olivia joked she couldn’t wait to show the grandkids her bridezilla moments. “I’ll be like yes, this is me when I cried about petals!” she laughed.
2. Try to Stay in the Moment
“I was so worried about feeling anxious in the morning and then I actually felt so calm and normal. You get yourself so worked up, with expectations about how you might feel and how you should feel and what everyone else has told you to feel, and you might not feel like that,” Olivia said.
“You have to rely on yourself as a person: it’s your day; it’s going to be completely different to your friend’s day. Remember it’s literally you and everything your husband-to-be has wanted, so don’t think you should feel a certain way, you feel how you feel on the day.”
READ MORE: 13 Things That Happen to Every Bride After Getting Engaged
For Olivia, the ceremony was almost like an out-of-body experience and she urges brides to take it all in. “It’s a weird thing because in the ceremony, I felt like I wasn’t even there, like not even in my body. I felt a bit strange but after I wish I had put myself in the moment more because you get so worked up and it’s hard not to. But I think you need to be in the moment – you do find yourself day dreaming because it’s all a bit of a blur.”
3. Always Try on a Wildcard Dress
As well as finding her own dress, Olivia filmed her new show Second Chance Dresses – where she helps brides find a pre-loved dress a new home – while she was planning her wedding. And she has a lot of advice for brides-to-be about the dress!
“Finding my wedding dress was the toughest part of all the wedding planning. It was so stressful and it upset me so many times. I got upset because I thought I was going to find my dress within minutes because I know my body type and what I like but it’s not as easy as that. That’s why I think brides are so overwhelmed.
READ MORE: 43 Mistakes Brides Make When Choosing a Wedding Dress
“You’re expected to have this dream day where you flounce around in wedding dresses and everyone’s smiling and happy, but finding your dress is not like that. It’s stressful, it’s hard, it’s emotional. You might not find one the first time. What was hard me for was I had an expectation of how I should find my wedding dress, and I want to tell brides you don’t have to do it that way.”
She eventually found her dream dress: the backless Mina dress by Enzoani, which went against what she expected to wear.
“100% every bride should try on a wildcard dress they wouldn’t think to try on,” she advised brides. “You have to be you on your big day, wear something you feel comfortable in and that makes you feel like you.
How Olivia and Alex’s Wedding Day Came Together
Before Olivia found her dream lace Enzoani wedding dress, she revealed that the pressure of having a Pinterest-worthy wedding saw her nearly buy a Berta gown, worth a huge £10,000.
“I went to The Wedding Club to try on dresses. I had no idea what I wanted but I felt I had to be very glam and very show-offy and that’s not me as a person: I’m pretty chilled, I will wear no make-up, I’ll dress in Alex’s clothes. So I tried on a Berta for £10,000, stunning, absolutely incredible and I loved it, but I felt so uncomfortable in it because I felt it was wearing me completely.
READ MORE: The Most Beautiful Lace Wedding Dresses
“I almost bought it because of what I thought other people would think of me wearing a Berta. ‘Oh Berta, that’s an expensive dress, how incredible’,” she admitted. “But I went home and had a word with myself. No, this isn’t right, you don’t feel like you. My mum could see it too, and I ended up going for a dress half the price. It becomes about what other people think and that’s what’s scary.”
Olivia topped off her Enzoani gown with a veil, designed by herself.
Image: Gosfield Hall
Alex and Olivia said ‘I do’ at the beautiful Gosfield Hall in Braintree, Essex. The former royal residence has a Tudor Long Gallery was an 120ft aisle, perfect for any bride to walk down, and they transformed the grounds with candles and lanterns. But it was the bridal suite that Olivia fell in love with – and we can see why! And it was all down to a little help from Hitched…
“I used Hitched when I was looking for venues, I was on there constantly and Gosfield [Hall] was one that I saw that people had been talking about.
READ MORE: 24 Amazing Wedding Venues in Essex
“I looked at loads online and I didn’t think any of them were worth looking at but then I saw Gosfield’s bridal suite and I was like, ‘Right, we’re going there!’ And I fell in love with it. I cried when I walked in. It was so beautiful and the grounds and countryside, and it was only half an hour from where we live. It was just perfect, just beautiful,” she said.
You know the supersition that the couple shouldn’t see each other before the ceremony – well, Olivia nearly risked bad luck for the rest of their marriage when her helicopter wedding present to Alex arrived in the wrong place.
READ MORE: 7 Things That Will Probably Go Wrong on Your Wedding Day
“I arranged for Alex to arrive at the venue with his two best men in a helicopter and that was his wedding present. I didn’t realise they were arriving outside the bridal suite window so I saw him land. Luckily I saw the helicopter land and then the girls made me move away from the window before he got out so I didn’t see him. The bridesmaids did good!”
Alex looked handsome in a royal blue suit, accentuated with a dusky pink tie and pocket square. The OK! magazine cover of them famously features Alex “20 beers down” at their evening reception.
READ MORE: The Groom’s Guide to Wedding Planning
Olivia revealed Alex had been hands-on with making wedding decisions. “I took control immediately but Alex likes to be involved in the decision making process, he just won’t want to get there! I have to get us to the decision making point and then he likes to say A or B, that’s where he comes in,” she said.
Olivia’s Favourite Moment
“I think when I saw Alex at the ceremony. He turned around and he was literally blubbering, fully crying, and then his best men were as well. I nearly burst into tears but had to catch myself, that was a really sweet moment,” she said.
The First Dance
The couple chose a surprising X Factor singer for their first dance song.
READ MORE: The 10 Most Popular First Dance Songs in the World
“We had Rebecca Ferguson sing our first dance song. It was outside in front of a fountain in a ring of lanterns and candles and everyone was watching, that was definitely a movie moment,” Olivia said.
The Name Change
How long did it take for Miss Buckland to become Mrs Bowen on her social media accounts?
READ MORE: The Complete Guide to Changing Your Name
“We got married on Saturday and I changed my name the next day. I tried not to do it for a while but I couldn’t help myself; it’s one of those sad little things! I changed it on Facebook, I changed it on Instagram. I feel like I wasn’t Olviva Buckland anymore, that person’s gone,” she told Hitched.
Olivia Buckland hosts Second Chance Dresses, Fridays at 8pm on TLC.