Bachelorette lead
Credit: Courtesy ABC

On the last season of The Bachelor, America fell in love with JoJo Fletcher pretty much as soon as she stepped out of the limo in a unicorn mask. And when Ben Higgins sent her home in what was quite possibly the most dramatic Bachelor finale ever (according to Chris Harrison, at least), it didn't take long for the 25-year-old Texan to be crowned the next Bachelorette.

So what's it like to be the one giving out the roses this time around? “It was a lot harder—and more emotional—than I thought it would be,” Fletcher told InStyle as she got a pre-premiere mani-pedi (IBD Beauty's soft peach shade was her polish of choice). “I knew it was going to be fun, but the thing that surprised me the most was how invested I got in every single relationship. I was dating 22 guys at one time and I was invested in all of them. It was both hard and rewarding,” she says.

THE BACHELORETTE - JoJo Fletcher first stole America's heart on Ben Higgins season of
Credit: Courtesy ABC

Since filming has wrapped, Fletcher says she is “happy” and “excited” to relive her journey to find love, which begins with tonight’s premiere (9 p.m. ET on ABC). “I was secluded from the world while we were shooting, so I’m ready for everyone to see what has been going on with me,” she says. “Let's just say there is a lot that has happened!”

Read on to get all of the scoop about the premiere from Fletcher, including the crazy arrivals, a surprise visitor, and how she could tell which men were there for the “right reasons.”

Have you watched the first episode yet?
Yes, I just saw it a few days ago and I had a blast watching it back. That first night was by far one of the most exciting ones of my life. It took me back to that moment and I remembered exactly how I was feeling right before I met the guys.

You got some advice from former Bachelorettes Kaitlyn Bristowe, Ali Fedotowsky, and Desiree Hartsock Siegfried before you started filming. What was the most helpful thing they told you?
I was asking them what to do on the first night, how nervous they were, and if they kissed anyone, things like that. They gave me so much advice, but the biggest takeaway for me was to be myself and trust my gut. There are really no rules when it comes to this show, so they said to do whatever I want to do. They also said to stay open-minded and if you’re falling in love, trust that you’re falling in love.

THE BACHELORETTE - Successful and stunning real estate developer JoJo Fletcher, 25, gets a second chance at her happily-ever-after, choosing from twenty-six handsome bachelors. After being devastated last season by a shocking rejection from Bachelor Ben H
Credit: Courtesy ABC

We all saw your incredible connection with Ben Higgins last season. What kind of qualities were you looking for in a man this time around?
Before the process began, I sat down with the producers and talked about what I’m looking for. It was pretty simple for me. I don’t have a physical type, but I want someone who is honest, smart, family-oriented, and makes me laugh. But really, at the end of the day, I was looking for somebody that I had an undeniable connection with. The person that could be my best friend.

Did you do anything to calm your nerves before the limos arrived that first day?
Oh my gosh, I was definitely nervous, but so excited at the same time. I had a million different emotions. When I was getting ready for the night with hair and makeup, we were playing music, drinking wine, and having fun. Seconds before the limos arrived, I had so much adrenaline. And once the night started, the excitement never ended.

Credit: Courtesy ABC

Last season, you charmed Ben by arriving in a unicorn mask. Were you looking for someone who was creative with their entrance too?
I appreciated anyone that took a risk that night because I had fun with it. It paid off for some of the guys. Nick B. dressed up in a Santa suit and it totally made my night. I told him I was stressed out and if he kept it on it would really make me laugh. He was sweating so bad, poor guy. Wells brought the R&B group All-4-One to serenade me—that was crazy! Luke rode in on a unicorn and I had said earlier that day it would be great if someone did that. He got points for that one.

Credit: Courtesy ABC

You had 26 men there on the first night. How did you remember all of their names for the rose ceremony?
It was overwhelming! Each guy comes in and says or does something in their introduction, so I tried to remember a little bit from each conversation. Every hour or so I would run through those names in my head and remind myself what we talked about. I felt like I was going to mess up someone's name, so I was really proud of myself that I didn't. It’s harder than you think because most of them are in dark suits and they look a lot alike.

Were you worried that any of the guys weren’t there for the “right reasons”?
You always have to wonder who is there for the right reasons. It’s like, are these guys just here to have fun or are they capable of getting more serious? The first night I was just trying to get to know everyone, so when a few of the guys got really drunk, I started to question things. We film all night and into the morning, so I'm understanding of the situation to an extent, but not for anyone who takes it too far. I only had one glass of wine because I was so focused on trying to remember everyone.

Any other dramatic moments from the premiere that you can share?
I can’t say too much, but there is a surprise visitor on the first night and everyone will be shocked to see what happens. The men were already nervous, so of course, the surprise put everything into a bit of a frenzy.

Credit: Courtesy ABC

What else can we look forward to this season?
We did a lot of traveling to places like Uruguay and Argentina, so that was amazing. And the group dates are incredible. There are some really fun ones that are out of the box. They producers take my date ideas and just make it happen. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

The Bachelorette premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.