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Three couples left Bachelor in Paradise Canada Season 2 with roses in the finale, but when Tessa Tookes proposed to Alberta's Joey Kirchner, she made history by becoming the first woman to pop the question across the Bachelor franchise.
“Casino Night, we're all kind of spiralling a bit and I remember saying to Joey that I've never felt more seen and more validated, especially in my feelings for someone,” Tookes told Yahoo Canada. “So that kind of gave me the inspiration of flipping the narrative and proposing to him because usually, in past relationships, I always feared loving someone too much.”
“I know my love for Joey. Even if he declined, I'd still feel really good about making that call. And women can propose. It's not, not on the table. So it felt really good to do something that's never been done before.”
In the eventful finale, Tookes put a ring made out of string on Kirchner's finger, just before he got on one knee with a proposal of his own.
While Kirchner may have not seemed like the single most likely to leave Paradise engaged, taking his time to get to know other women in Paradise, quite intimately, Kirchner said what led him to wanting to propose was just how strong his connection is with Tookes.
“She found the Rosetta Stone for Joey,” Kirchner explained. “She just knew what to say to me, how to talk me off the ledge and just kind of reassured me that she was going to be there for me, no matter what.”
“Like I said in the episode, she didn't really give me a choice. [She] said, ‘you're not leaving, bro. Like, what do you think you're doing? Absolutely not.’ And I was like, ‘yeah, you're right. I'm not leaving. Absolutely not.' … This is someone who would be there for me for the rest of my life and there's no way I could ever give that up, because I would just be crazy to do that.”
'I was honestly ready to quit after season number two, but I took a chance'
Just before we saw Tookes and Kirchner exchanged rings, Austin Tinsley and Chelsea Vaughn, the most secure couple of the whole season, exchanged roses.
While Tookes was the one who got engaged, she revealed that she admired Vaughn from The Bachelor Season 25, with Matt James.
“I looked up to you a lot on your season,” Tookes said to Vaughn while on a Zoom interview with Yahoo Canada. “Seeing you walk into that moment with Austin, the final rose, and just knowing that your journey has gotten to this point, … the season was perfect.”
Bachelor in Paradise Canada was Vaughn's third attempt to find love in the Bachelor world, and she almost didn't even make it to Paradise.
“I was honestly ready to quit after season number two, but I took a chance and came to Canada,” Vaughn said. “I kind of just went into it with a different mindset.”
“On all three seasons I was like, ‘I really hope that I find love,’ but in Canada I was like, ‘I really hope that I have an amazing experience and have a blast’ and ‘no matter what happens this is going be my last time doing this.’ … Then of course, that's the time that I actually find love. But it feels like good timing, the end of a chapter. I'm ready to move on.”
With her time in the Bachelor universe coming to an end, Vaughn highlights that it was a good experience to be the couple that starts together and stays together throughout the experience.
“I had never had that experience before and I've watched other people meet on the first day, and then you get to see their love story happen," she said. "They're known as the 'mom and dad of the beach' and they're the one solid couple.”
For Tinsley, after being on The Bachelorette Season 17, he also came to Canada with a shift in his mindset.
“I am rarely in a relationship, so I spent a lot of time just working on myself,” he said. “So it got to the point where I knew … what I wanted.”
“When I got there and she checked so many boxes so fast, … I was hoping to foster that relationship, grow it as fast as possible, and I'm grateful that she took a chance with me that fast.”
What's it really like to say 'I love you' on camera?
Any reality dating show is a unique experience, meeting a group of people, building connections and sometimes falling in love, all in a relatively short timeline, and all on-camera.
So did these reality TV stars ever feel hesitation to be so open about their feelings? It was a bit of a mixed bag on Bachelor in Paradise Canada.
“I have this unique gift, and/or downfall, of just not giving a f–k most of the time and just completely not thinking whatsoever about future consequences,” Kirchner said. “So I didn't think about the cameras being there whatsoever.”
As Tinsley explained, he got to a point where wasn't thinking about the "outside world."
"At a certain point, you don't think about your phone, you just think about what's in front of you," he said.
Vaughn was quick to point out that she is very different from her co-stars when it comes to thinking about the consequences of what she says and does on TV.
“I am the opposite of Austin and Joey, I’m very analytical, I'm thinking about everything, everywhere, all at once,” she said. “So it was really hard for me. I kind of had devil on the shoulder, angel on the shoulder, and there was always a conflict in my head.”
“I wasn't so much thinking about, ‘oh my god everyone's going to see this,’ I think because I'm an American, Canada's not my country, so I feel like I would have probably behaved a little bit differently if this was an American show, just because I knew it was going to be seen on a larger scale and by everyone that I know. Obviously, I still wanted to fall in love if it was Austin, but I think I might have been a little bit more reserved, if I'm honest. But I think once you get to the end, by the time I was literally in love, you can't really hold that in and you can't really hold the feelings back.”
For Tookes, now that she's gone down in history with her proposal, she knows she's someone who is open about her feelings.
“I've always been very in touch with my emotions, it's a coping mechanism for me to just share openly and express without any hesitation,” Tookes said. "I knew that my parents would eventually see this, I knew that my neighbours would see it, my bodega guy would see it, everyone would see it."
"I think the best thing you can do is just forget about it and just really fixate on the person in front of you. I tried my hardest to do that.”
Where do the 'Bachelor in Paradise Canada' couples stand now?
Now that Bachelor in Paradise Canada Season 2 has come to an end, fans of the show will be pleased to know that Kirchner and Tookes are still very much engaged, and they've been spending time together in Toronto.
"If anything, we're just way more in love now than we've ever been," Kirchner said.
"I think one thing that I've noticed over the past year is Joey's my best friend," Tookes added.
The couple are hoping that their families will be able to meet in the fall, but bringing their relationship into the real world, outside Paradise, has been "seamless."
In terms of future plans for living together, Tookes made the move to Canada, living in Toronto right now, but the pair are looking for somewhere to settle down that's convenient for their families, with Kirchner's in Alberta and Tookes' family in Connecticut. They're likely looking at a move to Calgary.
Tinsley and Vaughn are still together as well, now both living in an apartment in New York.
"We were long distance for the first eight-ish months and then we both love quality time, and that wasn't working out," Vaughn said. "Seeing each other like once a month, across the country, was hard."
"So he moved here, which I'm so grateful for, and we're just living our best lives in New York."
"It was easy to make the decision, whether I go over to New York or she goes to California," Tinsley added. "I've lived in California my whole life, I've done I feel like everything there is to do in California, so to choose to move to such a great city with such a great girl was a very, very easy decision, for sure."