The first year of marriage can be a challenging time. Once you’ve got over the excitement of your big day (then battled those very real wedding blues), you’ve got to navigate the minefield that is changing your name and figure out what to do with your wedding dress.
Do you need to send thank you cards? Will your relationship change after the big day? How can you keep the wedding magic alive?!
Two people who know the answers to all of these questions and more are Alex and Olivia Bowen, everyone’s favourite Love Island series three sweethearts, and the faces of their very own brand new reality show.
Olivia & Alex: Happily Ever After follows the pair through the highs and lows of the first year of married life, so they’re pros when it comes to the post-wedding to do list and keeping each other happy.
Olivia explained: “We wanted to do this show so that you could see the other side of Instagram. It’s nice to finally show people what we get up to on a daily basis.
“We clean the house, we have to look after the dogs and we have to run our business. I think it’s nice that our fans can see the more real side to us. I hardly wear makeup in the show – it’s all just normal.”
Before it was time for the happy couple to reveal their seven biggest post-wedding lessons, we wanted to find out how they celebrated their first anniversary.
“We went to Santorini and got our bums out!” exclaimed Alex.
Olivia said: “After having the cameras in our lives for a good four months, we just wanted to go away to the middle of nowhere. We ate so much. And the sunsets were out of this world!”
But what about their first 365 days as man and wife? Alex and Olivia reveal the seven things they learnt in their first year of married life which you might not have thought about yet.
1. Wedding Blues are Normal!
The first thing you’ll learn after your big day is that wedding blues are completely normal – and the few people who escape them are very lucky!
Olivia said: “Be prepared for a little bit of wedding blues! Your life is so consumed by this one day and then it’s all gone. I had never thought about getting married until I met Alex and even I got bad wedding blues. You just miss it and you’re sad that you can’t have that day again.”
Alex agreed. He said: “I just felt very deflated. There’s all that planning for the big day when everyone’s there for you, then we got back from our honeymoon and we were sat in bed and we were just like ‘what next?’ You look to the future and you’re not sure what’s going to happen. You’re on that much of a high, so for it all to just end is really hard.”
The best way to get over it? Olivia said: “I think we focused all our time into the brand. It’s all about making sure you’ve got something to look forward to after the wedding, even if it’s going out with your friends one night just to keep your mind off it.”
Struggling from a post-wedding mood dip? RIDE IT OUT.
2. Don’t Feel Bad If You Don’t Feel Different After Getting Married
“We’ve had a lot of questions like ‘Do you feel different now?’ and ‘How has it changed?’, but actually, we didn’t feel that different,” Olivia told us.
Remember, every couple are different, and as long as you’re happy in your relationship, then that’s all that matters.
READ MORE: Olivia Buckland Shares Her Wedding Day Advice for Brides
3. It’s Actually Quite Hard to Remember to Say ‘Husband’ or ‘Wife’
You should give yourself a bit of time to get used to your fabulous new titles!
“It’s hard to remember to say wife or husband,” Olivia confessed. “It’s really weird to get used to… but it is a nice feeling.”
Alex said: “It makes me feel really old! But I actually feel bad when I forget to say it.”
4. You’ve Got to Keep the Romance Alive with Date Nights
“Keep things fresh! Just because you’re married, don’t stop going on date nights,” Alex said.
Maintaining that spark after you’ve tied the knot is the key to a healthy and happy marriage, and once the wedding planning is over, you’ll have more time on your hands for date nights galore!
Olivia told us: “It’s definitely a good idea to keep doing what you used to do. Do what you did when you first met!”
Try cooking classes, meals out and staycations at nearby hotels. We’ve got a whole load of date night ideas for newlyweds here.
READ MORE: 13 Things That Will Happen on Your First Christmas as a Married Couple
5. You’ve Got to Be Prepared for a *Lot* of Baby Questions
“You do get asked a lot about when you’re going to have a child as soon as you get married,” Olivia said.
She continued: “I think because it’s natural progression, people just think that’s why you’re getting married, but we’ve been a bit different and we’re going to wait a bit.”
Be prepared for the questions, but don’t feel any pressure from other people. It’s your life and your relationship, after all.
READ MORE: All The Annoying Things People Say to Newlyweds
6. There’s Also a Lot of Paperwork to Be Done
One of the biggest lessons Alex and Olivia learnt in their first year of marriage was that there was a tonne of paperwork to be done.
“Prepare yourself for the amount of paperwork you’re going to have when you change your surname, if you’re going to change your surname,” Olivia said.
She continued: “It did take a while. You have to change your passport, your cards, all the accounts you have.”
It’s not all bad, though! Alex said: “It’s definitely very exciting to see when it says ‘Mrs. Bowen’. It makes it feel more real.”
All those nights spent completing forms in front of the TV will be totally worth it, we promise.
READ MORE: Meet the Men Who Changed Their Name After Getting Married
7. You’ve Got to Think About What to Do With Your Wedding Dress!
Remember that *super* expensive wedding dress you bought for your big day? You’ll quickly learn that you can’t just leave it hanging in your wardrobe if you want it to last forever.
Olivia said: “It’s really nice putting it back on, like it does make you feel a lot, so I had it cleaned and boxed up all nicely. You do wonder what to do with it.”
Check out our guide to preserving your wedding dress – it’s more technical than you might first think!
READ MORE: Which Love Island Couple Are You? Take the Quiz!
Want to see more from Alex and Olivia? Their new series of Olivia & Alex: Happily Ever After airs on Fridays at 9pm on TLC.