After weathering the devastation of cancelling her wedding three times, Erin Holland finally married the love of her life, Ben Cutting, in February this year.
Wearing her J'Aton Couture gown, for a moment, she could bask in her newlywed glee but shortly after their Byron Bay ceremony, Ben left for four months to play cricket overseas. Meanwhile Erin got stuck into her intense training routine for SAS Australia.
"This year's been rough for us. [Ben] literally left two days after our wedding for four months in a row to go and play overseas. And then he went away again for another month and a half, and then I just went away for a month overseas," Erin tells Now To Love.
"So, we spent massive, massive chunks and time apart again. But I think having that extra commitment of being married feels really great."
The former beauty queen found out she would be on SAS two weeks before her wedding, and while most people would brush aside such a commitment to focus on newlywed life, Erin chose to star on the show for a deeply personal reason.
"The first six months of 2020 is probably the lowest I've ever been mentally. So, happy to have gotten through that," reveals Erin.
"I think that was also a big reason why I did SAS as well. I was like, 'I need to shake it up, and I need to feel alive again and getting tear-gassed, balance 30 metres of coal, and swing out of a helicopter is a great way to feel alive'."
When the time came to battle it out on the reality show, Erin's stint was cut short when she had to pick up Dan Ewing, who is "like 91 kilos of muscle."
When speaking to the classically trained singer, it's clear that she is a high achiever and won't give up easily.
Erin reveals to Now to Love that if she had it her way, she would still be trying to drag Dan "six months later."
"I was trying to reason with him. I was like, can I drag him? Can I piggyback him? Can I do it any other way? He's like, no, you have to do it this way," she laughs. "I was pretty gutted how my time came to an end, but also not surprised that it was a physical thing rather than a mental thing that kinda got me. Cause I'm pretty stubborn. I probably would still be there trying to drag him. But he's heavier than he looks."
Erin's career requires that she travels and hosts events, so when the pandemic hit in 2020, she faced a lot of professional and personal uncertainty.
But one silver lining that came along with that emotional burden was getting to live with her then-fiancé for the first time since the two often had to navigate their relationship long-distance.
"I remember sort of thinking like; 'I just hope we can do it long term.' I don't know. It's so crazy to think about getting, you know, married when you haven't done that, but just with the way that our careers are and our lives work, it was never really feasible.
"So, lockdown and actually spending like four months in a row together was great. And I felt really confident going into the wedding knowing he's really easy to live with," says the 32-year-old.
As for what they learnt about their relationship during that time, well, it turns out they both have very distinct roles when it comes to homemaking.
"Ben's the adult in our relationship; he cleans, and he does the washing, and I'm just the complete opposite. Like, I cook, and that's about it. He does everything else. He's amazing. So, I think I just drove him crazy cause he was like, 'you are so messy,'" says Erin.
She also reveals that Ben helped motivate her to move her body in lockdown because he understands it's essential for her mental health.
The presenter has been active her whole life since she started dancing at age four, and as an adult, she prefers personal training seasons and weightlifting to keep fit.
"I have the intention to move my body every day, but not beating myself off the, at it if I can't, I think is really important," she says.
Over the years, she has mastered listening to her body. But when she started doing more cardio for SAS, she discovered how much staying hydrated improved her performance, so Erin began taking Berocca Sport for its B vitamins and electrolytes, which transformed how she trained.
Erin and Ben are about to spend their third Christmas together and their first as a married couple.
"Christmas is gonna be awesome because we're actually gonna be together for this one," she exclaims.
Even though they can't be with the rest of their family, they're making the most of it by inviting a few of Ben's teammates who are away from their homes for the Boxing Day cricket match.
After two years of roadblocks, weddings, and reality shows, Erin and Ben deserve to round out their year with some calm before the inevitable storm when they head back to their jet setting lifestyle in 2022.