At this point, viewers don’t really expect the Neil Lane diamonds—and the Bachelor Nation love stories they represent—to be long for this world.
With only one Bachelor couple still looking rosy today (we see you, Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici!) and another six from spin-off The Bachelorette, the franchise has earned its reputation for not exactly being conducive to lasting love. For some of the more cynical viewers of ABC’s love hunts it’s become almost sport to start betting on just how many months it will take for the final couple to release a carefully parsed breakup statement and relinquish their multi-carat jewels. (The record goes to Jason Mesnick and Melissa Rycroft who enjoyed their betrothal for about a month before he realized he still had feelings for his second choice.)
But in 2018, dare we say most of these pairs seemed as if they were in it for the right reasons. Sure, Arie Luyendyk Jr. flip-flopped, reverting to his runner up before the show even made it to air in a move that has become known as pulling a Mesnick.
But we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that Jason and his wife Molly Mesnick marked their eighth anniversary this year. And Luyendyk Jr. is on track to follow fully in the account exec’s footsteps. This January he will make Lauren Burnham his bride and the newlyweds are set to welcome their first child together five months later.
And in the great Bachelorette tradition of girls making better choices than the boys, Luyendyk Jr.’s former fiancée Becca Kufrin is still doing the damn thing with final rose recipient Garrett Yrigoyen.
So while this was the year one of Bachelor Nation’s most beloved pairings, Kaitlyn Bristoweand Shawn Booth, bit the dust and Bachelor in Paradise‘s cutest couple winners Jenna Cooper and Jordan Kimball combusted before summer’s close, other show alumni offered plenty of reasons to keep believing in love. As we close at 2018, we celebrate those couples that will continue on their amazing journeys together in the new year.
LAUREN BURNHAM & ARIE LUYENDYK JR.
Okay, so the soon-to-be-newlyweds didn’t have the most auspicious of beginnings. Shortly after season 22’s Bachelor, 37, decided told Becca Kufrin he’d choose her “every day”, he realized, as he put it in a recent Today op-ed, “I made the wrong decision in front of millions watching at home.” His choice of ways to rectify it wasn’t the best either. As viewers watched rapt, unable to pull away from the car wreck taking place on their television screens, Luyendyk Jr. dumped his then-fiancée during one of their planned happy couples weekends. Then, hours after their breakup aired, he proposed to runner-up Burnham, 27, thankfully springing for a new Neil Lane diamond for the occasion.
The backlash they endured was every bit as bad as expected, but the pair forged ahead, first buying a house in his Scottsdale, Ariz. hometown, then methodically putting together their January vows in Hawaii. And if that weren’t enough to prove they’re in this for the long-haul, the real estate agents announced in November that they will welcome their first child next June. As the race car driver put it to Today, “It’s so wild to think that just a year ago we were shooting a TV show and now we have this life together.”
BECCA KUFRIN & GARRETT YRIGOYEN
All’s well that ends well? Sure, Kufrin had to endure having her heart shattered on national television with Luyendyk Jr.’s cruel breakup, but keeping her head high through the whole ordeal earned her a return trip to Bachelor mansion and a chance to dole out her own roses. Her decision to commit to Yrigoyen, he of the abhorrent Instagram activity, over endearing sales rep Blake Horstmann wasn’t exactly beloved, but the medical sales rep, 29, offered up a full mea culpa and the two haveseemed happily coupled since the summer finale.
Keeping to their plan of exploring her native Minneapolis followed by his home near Reno, Nev. and his parents’ place in California before they settle down outside of San Diego in 2019, they have vowed to at least discuss wedding options next. “It’s fun to just, like, dabble in things,” Yrigoyen told E! News in August. Added the publicist, 28, “My sister’s getting married, his brother’s getting married. So we’ll get some good ideas from them.”
ASHLEY IACONETTI & JARED HAIBON
Mark down 2018 as the year Iaconetti became the poster child for ignoring all of the standard he’s just not that into you signs. Nearly three years of lusting after her ideal man paid off this spring when the Rhode Island native realized that they were meant to be more than just friends. Naturally, it took the former nanny falling for another guy—Canada’s hunky Bachelor Kevin Wendt—on The Bachelor Winter Games, but Haibon, 30, has pledged to make up for his years of indecisiveness and just generally being an idiot.