Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for the newlyweds, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse and Clara Flynn!
It’s not everyday in Hope Valley we see a wedding, let alone a wedding as magical, enchanting and emotional as Jesse and Clara’s. The couple stole our hearts from the very start, and every step of their relationship has been inspiring, especially as we watched them overcome hardships in their personal and professional lives.
On Sunday’s When Calls the Heart, we watched the Flynns tie the knot in a very special ceremony and reception celebration. Sure, there were some hiccups on the big day, but we can always count on the Hope Valley community to rally together and pull off something spectacular.
ET spoke exclusively with the bride and groom themselves, Eva Bourne and Aren Buchholz, to share all the heartfelt details and behind-the-scenes scoop you didn’t see on tv. Read all about it below!
ET: After many seasons of dating, what was it like finally filming your characters' wedding?
Eva Bourne: It was nerve-racking, to be honest! I didn’t expect it to affect me as much as it did, but I think with Aren and I creating this romance and relationship over the last four years, it really shaped how we both felt on the big day. I’ve never been married on screen before, so it was a first for me, and I’m so glad I got to have that first big jump with Aren. He’s just the best. He just calmed my nerves as soon as we stepped up on the platform and started shooting the vows.
Aren Buchholz: Honestly, it was a little surreal. It was such a busy block of shooting that after we were finished, I sort of had to pinch myself and say, ‘Wow, we’re married now.’ Just to think of where we were five years ago, how much our characters have grown and how much we’ve been through as a team-- it was just really special. Clara and Jesse have become such important fixtures in the town, and I think it was the perfect celebration of their love, and of all the many moments of happiness shared with one another. Still pinching myself!
Describe the wedding day vibe on set -- was it emotional? Energetic? Fun?
EB: A mix of every emotion! I think it kind of jumped from one to the other throughout the day. For me, it certainly started off with a bit of stress and nervousness. The day started off with only David Lennon (Pastor Zeke), Aren, myself and, of course, our director and crew. So, it felt very intimate at first. Once the whole bridal party showed up, we definitely shifted to party vibes! It’s always so fun to see everyone all dressed up and looking their very best for big events in Hope Valley.
AB: I think there were a lot of mixed emotions on set that day. Everyone was excited for all the fun scenes we had to shoot. Eva and I were feeling sentimental over all the past years and memories leading up to the wedding. There were some happy tears, lots of laughs and surely a day we’ll never forget.
It actually took us two days to film the whole wedding event itself, and they were long days, but mostly the room was buzzing with energy. And I think everyone was excited to see all their hard work leading up to the big day come to fruition. There were so many moving parts to bring this wedding to life: the set looked amazing, the costumes were top notch, the script was wonderful, the list could go on and on. The whole cast and crew, top to bottom, really brought their all for this one, and I think it showed. It was really an amazing feat that our whole family at When Calls The Heart pulled off and I’m proud to have been a part of it.
Did you try to follow tradition and avoid seeing each other on set leading up to the big moment?
EB: I think it would have been fun to have the big reveal to be walking down the aisle, but our green room had been set up in the cafe that day, which I didn’t know, and that’s where we were putting the dress on! So unfortunately, Aren did see me beforehand, but I will say, I had my massive cozy coat on over top [of the dress], so I think that maybe helped in hiding it a bit? Even with him seeing me beforehand, Aren is such a great actor, the look on his face just sold it!
AB: Well, we were first up on the day, actually. Eva was in very early in the morning to get her hair done and I had to get all suited up, so we saw each other right away. The first thing we shot was the vows, so we got right to business. As we completed that section and other actors and background [actors] started to arrive, we slowly began to build the scene from there. So, Eva and I spent all day together, and the following day as well!
If you had to describe the wedding in three words...
EB: Magical, emotional, laughter.
AB: Enchanting, emotional, endearing, romantic, joyous, oh wait, that’s too many!
Getting married is such a major life milestone! How does it feel to see your character married?
EB: It is! It feels lovely! When I first auditioned for Clara and read the script, she had lost everything. Her mother and father had passed, and Peter, so for her to finally be here, getting married to her best friend and starting her own family again with him in it? It feels very, very special. I’m so happy to see her heart getting the love that it has needed. It makes me excited to see what will be in store for her now with her heart so full!
AB: If you would’ve told me five years ago that Jesse would be getting married to Clara with this grand wedding event and the whole town pitching in, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I think most people wouldn’t have believed you, based on who he was when he first showed up to Hope Valley. But now, after years of learning from his mistakes, righting those old wrongs and earning the respect of his community, he has arrived at the altar with his dream girl truly a changed man, and I’m just so darn proud of him. And that’s why I get so much joy out of playing Jesse. He’s a walking embodiment that, no matter where you came from or the mistakes you made, if you have love in your heart and the desire to change, then you deserve a chance at redemption and happiness.
Was Clara's dress treated like a real one, and kept a secret from Aren and the cast?
EB: Aren definitely didn’t know anything about it! I kept my entire Pinterest out of his reach! Erin [Krakow] was pretty involved, as well as some of the girls from our hair and makeup department. I had voiced to them that I wasn’t sure I would be able to find images that fit the vision I had in my head of the dress, and that night and next day my phone was blowing up with photos of wedding dresses that would fit the time period! I’m a lucky duck! I sent my favorites on to our costume designer, who is incredible, and [she] ended up finding the dress in a shop in Langley, [British Columbia]! I couldn’t believe her luck!
AB: Oh yes, it was important to me that I didn’t see the dress until the first day of shooting. I mean, it’s hard on set with all the busy-ness, but we tried our best. Before shooting the vows, I remember Eva had a big cozy coat over her dress during touch-ups and blocking, but I could still sort of see it, so I would look away as much as possible until we started filming. It’s silly but I think it helped a little bit.
Can you tell us a behind-the-scenes secret about the dress?
EB: Well, going to try on the dress for the first time was pretty exciting. Before I got to the production office, it was a rollercoaster of emotions! It was my first time wearing a wedding dress, so the whole idea felt a bit odd and my heart was just beating so fast! I didn’t know what it would look like or what I would look like in it. Once it was on and it fit, I felt a huge sense of relief. There wasn’t much that needed to be added or done. It was just one of those moments during this episode that put my mind at ease. I just knew that everything was going to come together and that I was in the best hands.
How much of Clara and Jesse's wedding day looks did you two conceptualize on your own?
EB: I’ll be honest and say that I really didn’t think that I was going to be this person, but once I read our [season 6 finale script], I was like, ‘OK, Pinterest! Let’s do this thing!’ I loved looking at all the bridal hair and makeup. I knew the sort of vibe that I wanted for Clara’s wedding day, so it was pretty easy to find the looks. I really wanted everything to feel dreamy, soft and romantic. I loved the idea of pearls being incorporated as much as possible. I felt like it represented Clara and Jesse’s love, in a way. These two people have been through so many pressures in life and in love, but have finally reached this beautiful point and are ready to create all the layers to their life to come together.
AB: I gotta say, [Jesse's look] was all Barbara [Gregusova] and the rest of the wardrobe team. I was super happy, because blue is my favorite color and it fits right into Jesse’s color scheme, so it was perfect. I actually told her that I want that suit if we don’t need them in the future.
How much, if any, of the wedding decor did you conceptualize? Did you work with the set design team on that? Where did you take inspiration from?
EB: I think, at first, we kind of just trusted our [set decoration] team, knowing they would do a fantastic job and create something gorgeous, but they actually came to us and asked for our two cents! Aren and I talked about the feeling we wanted to capture with the decor and then started sending photos back and forth. We really wanted it to be romantic, vintage and rustic. Something that would feel very natural and pure, because Aren and I always say that’s what the love between Jesse and Clara feels like.
AB: What’s so great about this show is that we’re a tight knit group, so the art and set design teams did ask for our opinions, by which I mean, mostly Eva’s. Eva sent them a mood board with ideas she had and they took that and ran with it. We shot the bachelor and bachelorette parties the week before the wedding, so the saloon was all decorated for that, and then the amazing set dressing team went in, took it all down and built that enchanting wedding set in just a few short days. It was truly incredible.
Funny story: while they were decorating and building the set for the wedding, other crew members and castmates would dip their heads in and sneak a peek, but everyone was like, ‘No, you two don’t go in there!’ The whole team was committed to and excited for us to see it for the first time on the actual day. It was really sweet. And what a surprise it was! I mean come on, it looked and felt like something straight out of a fairytale.
Eva, what went through your mind when you first saw Aren at the end of the aisle, waiting for you?
EB: We shot the walking down the aisle a little later in the day, so my nerves had settled by that point and I just felt so excited about this new chapter for these two characters. I had all sorts of ideas running through my head for what their new story would look like: how they would both grow, separately and of course together, on this new path.
Aren, what went through your mind when you first saw Eva all done up, walking down the aisle?
AB: Well, I’m sure we can all agree, Eva was stunning. I remember at the time saying, ‘Wow, she looks like a princess.’ And then, there was this wave of emotion that hit me, thinking about all of the moments leading up to this, not only for Clara and Jesse, but for Eva and myself as well. We’ve been through so much together and to see her walking down the aisle was the accumulation of all those great times; it was just a really special moment.
There was also a feeling of pride for how far the character of Clara has come over the years. She’s grown into such a strong, independent woman and Jesse is thanking his lucky stars that he got a gal like her.
The vows were so touching! Did you have any input in writing or crafting them?
EB: You know, we kind of differed on this a little bit! Aren really wanted to, and did, write his own vows! I think he’s more of a romantic than I am -- and I certainly consider myself a big romantic at heart. We did talk about going over Jesse and Clara’s timeline, and writing vows based on all the ups and downs through their relationship, but I think for me, deep down, I was really just excited to see what our writers would put together. As much as we know our characters inside and out, they are the foundation of creating their unique personal traits and belief systems! [The writers] wrote such beautiful vows, and I was so happy to speak their words.
AB: Initially there was some talk of us getting to write our own vows, but when the first draft came out, the episode called for something very specific to complete Clara’s arc, which made perfect sense and turned out beautifully. The writers really nailed the emotionality of that whole episode. And since Clara’s late husband Peter’s vows were so lovely, and Clara’s so earnest and emotional, I think the writers wanted Jesse’s to be light and have a bit of comic relief, which I, of course, didn’t mind. That’s what Jesse does best and why Clara loves him!
I did, however, write my own vows just in case (and really just as an exercise to get in the right headspace) so I definitely used those to help me in the moment.
Were you nervous at all during the vows? Did it feel real?
EB: Yes, super nervous at first, but Aren was so sweet and between each take would check in and see how I was doing. I really didn’t prepare myself for it well at all. I had no idea that I would have felt that way when shooting the vows. Then, of course, to make things even more nerve-racking, there were all sorts of things going on during my vows! We shot Aren’s coverage first, and when we turned around on me, there were fans going on and off, technical issues and mirrors falling and crashing down behind the arbour! We just kept telling ourselves this must be good luck for our characters’ future together.
AB: Oh yeah! I think I was actually more nervous for Eva, given her big, important monologue. But, you know, it was great, because we started with the vows, so we could just take our time, breathe and connect, get the shots we needed and then move on. It really set the tone for the rest of the day. It also helps a lot to have a partner in crime going through all of it with you.
Funny story: firstly, special shout out to Eva, who did such an amazing job throughout not only this whole episode, but those vows, my goodness. She did an incredible job and it was a joy to watch her masterful work. But, in the middle of filming her coverage of the vows, as she’s getting emotional and delivering pure gold to the camera, whoosh, a big fan turns on. ‘Cut!’ On to the next take... the room is silent, everyone captivated by her words, and then right in the meat and potatoes of the vows, bam! A picture frame falls off the back wall. ‘Cut!’ It was craziness. I think they even called ‘cut’ one other time to fix her hair. But again, to Eva’s credit, she handled it like a pro, laughed it off and nailed the next two takes.
The wedding kiss -- how many takes did you do to get it perfect? Did you talk it through ahead of filming?
EB: You know, I don’t think we did it too many times! I think we kind of left it up to being present in the moment and with each other. Honestly, just listening and anticipating David Lennon (Pastor Zeke) saying, 'You may now kiss your bride,' made it new and fresh each take!
AB: Eva might remember better than I do, but I don’t think we rehearsed that at all, aside from coordinating which side we’d go to! And if my memory serves me correctly, we only shot that a few times.
All in all, what was your favorite part of the wedding?
EB: My favourite part about the wedding was, unfortunately, something that didn’t make the cut! We actually had a wonderful and patient choreographer come in and teach a group of us a dance. It was called ‘Picking Up Sticks,’ for all of you who are interested. It was just something that we’ve never done before, and we all had such a blast learning it and getting all the moves down pat. It was so fun, and not to mention a really cute and awkward moment for Elizabeth, Lucas and Nathan.
AB: Oh gosh, there’s too many to choose from. Aside from the obvious things, like the ceremony, reception, cake cutting etc., I’d have to say the beautiful moments surrounding the completion of Clara’s widowed arc story. And how, through her example, Elizabeth now has the hope and freedom to move on without guilt as well. It was really beautiful.
Did anything go wrong that we didn't see on camera? Any fun or unexpected mishaps.
EB: Well, there was the vows, of course. Then there was the bit where Aren and I were cutting the cake, but didn’t know that the top layer was just styrofoam, so that take was no good. Oh, and there was the bit where Clara is throwing the bouquet and Florence [Loretta Walsh] just couldn’t help herself catching it nearly every single time, even though it was written for someone else to catch it!
AB: At one point in one of the earlier drafts of the script, we were actually going to have the wedding outside on the arbor by the pond, but because the weather in Vancouver is unpredictable, they moved it into the saloon, which I think was a great idea, because it looked absolutely gorgeous in there. Also, we shot that in early November, which is rainy season and usually quite cold in Vancouver, so really it was art imitating life.
Do you think Clara and Jesse have baby fever? How soon could you see them expanding the family, and how many kids do you think they'd want?
EB: I think Jesse and Clara are just looking forward to being man and wife for a little while. I have a feeling kids aren’t going to be in the near future, but certainly that will happen at some point for them! I could see them having two -- maybe a boy and a girl? Clara is going to be sewing up a storm once those babes come into the picture!
AB: I think they definitely want kids, just not yet. They’re young and driven, both wanting to better themselves professionally and pursue their dreams. I think they’ll want to enjoy newlywed life for a few years before bringing any new babies to Hope Valley. But when they do, three kids. Minimum.
How will life change for them now that they're married?
EB: It’s completely new territory for them! They’ve never lived with each other before, so there’s lots of new learning experiences for both of them. It’s like starting fresh again. They’re seeing all the insecurities in one another about getting things ‘right,’ as well as showing each other just how much they value and love one another. There are some really sweet scenes to come after the wedding!
AB: Well, now they have the joys of navigating young married life, which brings its fair share of challenges, like moving in together and being a supportive spouse -- definitely new territory for them. I don’t want to give too much away, but I think the Hearties are really going to enjoy the beginning of this next chapter in their lives.
You two seem to be such great pals -- describe your friendship and what it's like working together!
EB: We’ve really bonded over the years. We have a very similar sense of humour, which I think was what started the foundation of our friendship back in season 3. We work really well together. It’s a bit of yin and yang. As much as I don’t like to admit, I’m very much a rule-follower and someone who works by the script, whereas Aren is a bit more free and inventive when it comes to scenes. He tends to shake me up a bit, which I need, and then I balance it out by bringing in awareness of the technical aspects of the space and it all melds together!
AB: It’s funny, much like our characters, Eva and I have been on quite the journey together as well. When we first met and began working with one another, it was very professional and formal, but as the years have gone by, we’ve definitely formed a great friendship. There’s a special bond you share with someone when you’ve been ‘shipped’ together for so many years and in a lot of ways, we’re truly a team. Like Jesse, I thank my lucky stars I have Eva as my co-star and friend.
Does filming a super romantic episode like this give you the itch to tie the knot some day? If so, how do you think your dream wedding would be similar or different from Clara and Jesse's?
EB: It definitely gave me a big preview as to what may be to come one day! I would love to be able to celebrate a big love like that and of course be able to have a party with all my loved ones! Weddings are a blast! I think my dream wedding would be pretty similar in terms of the inspiration. Very romantic and rustic. I loved the hair and makeup. Denean Dale and Jill Tymos did such stunning work! I also am very fond of an off-the-shoulder dress, similar to Clara’s and decorating with as many twinkly lights as possible! Nothing says romance like twinkly lights!
AB: Oh definitely. Not anytime soon for myself, but after experiencing a beautiful and majestic Hallmark wedding such as that, it definitely gets you excited about the future. I think I’d want my wedding to have that same enchanting feel, while also being outside, maybe by a pond. That said, I think if Jesse’s learned-lessons have taught me anything, it’s that I’ll probably leave those decisions to the wife.