When Zac Mirabelli walked into the Love Island villa in Fiji, his eyes shot straight to Elizabeth Weber.
The two coupled up during episode 1 of the first American season of the beloved British reality show and remained inseparable throughout its five-week run. During Wednesday night’s finale on CBS, fans crowned Zac and Elizabeth their favorite couple — and they walked away with a $100,000 check.
“I feel like it still hasn’t hit me yet, fully,” Elizabeth, 24, tells PEOPLE. “We were able to see a clip of it today and we were like, ‘Oh, we won!’ We had to see it to believe it. It’s insane.”
“It is truly crazy,” adds Zac, 22. “When you think back on the whole journey and the whole experience, it’s definitely wild.”
So what’s next for pair? First things first, Zac, a grocery store cashier, and Elizabeth, an advertising exec, need a moment to take it all in. Then, they plan on traveling to Michigan to spend time with Elizabeth and her family, followed by a trip to Chicago, Zac’s hometown.
With him in Chicago and her currently living in New York City, they haven’t made any definite plans for their future, but both are contemplating a move to Los Angeles. And as for their prize money?
“We’re going to take a trip to Europe!” Zac reveals.
Now a cultural phenomenon, the show begins with a group of sexy singles who couple up (sharing beds!), while their every move is monitored, Big Brother-style. Every few days, a re-coupling ceremony takes place, and those who fail to find a partner risk being dumped from the island.
Challenges abound with new Islander arrivals, all while viewers (and sometimes the Islanders themselves) vote on who stays and who goes. And because the show airs five nights a week, you’re following the action more or less live.
So what makes Love Island the perfect place to fall in love?
“You enter this villa and you lose all of the outside distractions — technology, people’s opinions and judgments,” Elizabeth explains. “You just let all of that go and really get to know people for who they are. Anyone that’s entering the villa or choosing to come out here really tries to come into it with an open mind and an open heart. And I think that’s how the relationships really are able to flourish.”
That said, Zac and Elizabeth certainly got lucky.
“When I first walked into the villa and saw Elizabeth, I knew instantly that she was the girl that I wanted to couple up with, just based off of physical attraction,” Zac says. “And it turned out that I ended up being her type as well, which is something we laugh about, because what are the odds? What are the chances of that happening?”
“It’s just been an incredible experience,” Elizabeth says. “The more time we spent together, we realized how similar we really were and wanted the same things. Things just kept matching up more and more and we kept saying, ‘This is so weird. I can’t believe we just keep getting closer and closer!'”
“Going into Love Island, I thought maybe I would be torn between people or lightly dating people,” she continues. “But then it was just like, ‘Oh no. It’s going to be Zac the whole time.'”
Adds Zac, “It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I came into Love Island and truly found what I was looking for, especially right from the get-go. We both came in thinking, ‘There’s no way we’re going to find the person we’re looking for.’ We had low expectations and then boom, it happened.”
They also made lifelong friends with the rest of the cast; it’s easy to bond when everyone sleeps in one big room together.
“It was so fun,” Elizabeth says. “I loved waking up to all the commotion, I loved waking up next to all my friends. And at night, we would dive under the covers to have our alone time, trying to whisper so no one would hear what we were talking about!”
So what’s their advice for future Islanders?
“I would say go into it with an open mind and an open heart,” Elizabeth says. “Also, remember not to really judge people. First impressions aren’t everything.”
“Especially for people who are in there from the beginning, just be super friendly and genuine with new people coming in,” Zac adds. “It’s tough, because you feel like they’re stepping on your territory and you don’t want to lose the person that you’re coupled up with, but you really just have to follow your heart.”
Catch up on season 1 of Love Island on CBS All Access. Season 2 is casting now.
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