"I was incredibly nervous heading down to that last Rose Ceremony," said Tessa during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. "But at the same time, I was feeling that I was so in love. I didn't know how I could feel that way and have him not feel that way. So part of me knew deep down that it was right and it was going to happen."
The assumption by the 26-year-old San Francisco social worker was right on, as Andy presented her with Officer and a Gentleman's final rose, but not before getting down on bended knee and proposing marriage. Tessa answered in the affirmative and is excited that after a two-month wait, her love with Andy is something they can finally now share with the entire world.
"It's a huge relief to have it over," said Tessa. "It's been great moving forward with Andy since the show finished wrapping, but it definitely was hard that everyone around us was still watching it as if it was present. So we're just really excited to move forward from here."
"Well, we've been walking around New York, I've been screaming it at the top of my lungs," added Andy, who also participated in the Tuesday conference call with reporters. "It's no secret any longer. It's been really hard. We finished the show about two months ago and just to have to watch it all over again, and have all that drudged up... Especially on Tessa, it's really hard."
This week will be a busy one for Andy and Tessa, as they plan on traveling to Pennsylvania -- where his family and her mother currently reside -- for a brief reunion of sorts before they travel to his current home state of Hawaii for a Memorial Day celebration. But of course the question on everybody's mind dealt with wedding arrangements, as Andy's proposal to Tessa and her acceptance of it marked the first time in four seasons and only the second in its last seven editions that The Bachelor has ended with the show's bachelor proposing to his final bachelorette.
Andy Baldwin proposes to Tessa Horst during The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman's finale (Photo credit ABC/Craig Sjodin)
"The fact that we're going to be living in Hawaii... everyone keeps asking about a Hawaiian wedding, and I think it's a very romantic thing to do," he said. "And the fact that I'm a Naval officer, a very traditional Naval wedding with the sword arch... Maybe a little combination of that, but I always have to defer to the boss."
"I like the idea of a beach wedding maybe. But we're really not talking wedding plans right now. We're just taking it one step at a time," said Tessa, or "the boss" as Andy affectionately referred to her. "I'm going to move [to Hawaii] in the coming months... the next few months. And I think in terms of a wedding, we're definitely taking our time. Take it one step at a time and slow things down a little bit. Everything at the beginning of our relationship was obviously very condensed and rushed in some ways, but it feels like we're moving [towards a wedding]... We're just going to take it slowly."
Tessa's Officer and a Gentleman journey had serendipitous beginnings, as she was initially approached about appearing on the show after participating in an event that, as an accomplished triathlete, is also very near and dear to Andy's heart.
"I was running a half marathon in San Francisco, and people approached me at the end and said, 'Hey! Are you interested in being on The Bachelor? He's looking for an athlete.' And at the time, I kind of thought, 'No. That sounds kind of silly but fun, and I'm single so why not,'" explained Tessa. "And then [following The Bachelor: Rome's finale last fall], they aired Andy calling all women to apply as a promo for Andy. He said, 'I know that she's out there... Where is she?' And I was with my two roommates and I said, 'I'm right here! I'm right here!' And they were like, 'Oh my God... Are you kidding?' I thought I have to apply. I've got to do it."
So she officially applied and was cast, appearing as one of the initial 25 suitors who traveled to Los Angeles to try and win the 30-year-old undersea medical officer's heart.
"That first night, I actually did really feel a connection with him," she explained. "I felt like he's so sincere and he's so sweet and we had a great moment outside on the balcony and I was able to tell him why I was there. My feelings for him definitely went up and down in the first couple of weeks. I kind of wouldn't let myself have feelings for him because I was just really turned-off by [the other bachelorettes] having feelings for him too. And that situation to me just seemed so unnatural. I didn't really see how it had potential to be a situation where I could fall in love. I think while my feelings for Andy were growing throughout the experience, I definitely would push him away a lot because it just seemed unnatural to me." Andy even commented several times during Officer and a Gentleman's broadcast run that he felt like he was the one pursuing Tessa, rather than it being the other way around.
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"She just has an ease about her that is so elegant and real and she's true to herself... It was different than all the other bachelorettes that were there," said Andy. "As I got to know her more and more, she made me laugh until I got side stitches. It's rare to have someone like that, but that's what relationships and love is all about... She challenges me, and she made me work hard to win her heart on this show. But in the end it was so wonderful and I love her so much."
Eventually Tessa said she realized Andy was "totally the kind of guy I would date normally," and described him as "smart, driven, caring, optimistic, and positive." "That's really somebody you want to be with for the rest of your life... Somebody who's going to make you smile," she said. However Andy revealed he still was unsure if his final rose would be presented to Tessa or Bevin Powers, a 28-year-old clinic research coordinator who curently resides in Palo Alto, CA.
"It was really [my final one-on-one date with Tessa during Officer and a Gentleman's finale] that sealed the deal for me and allowed me to make-up my mind," said Andy. "When Tessa finally opened up with all of her heart and told me that she loved me. When she brought out the collage, it took so much time and thought that went into that. Every little piece of that collage meant something special to us... I really needed to feel that from her, and once that happened, I knew she was the woman I wanted to get down on one knee and asked to be my wife."
While the decision was made in Andy's mind, he still had to deal with telling Bevin she was the 24th and final bachelorette to be eliminated from Officer and a Gentleman. It was a conversation he didn't relish having with her, especially considering the two had exchanged "I love you's" during their last one-on-one date. But Andy said there are "a lot of definitions of love," and while he had love for Bevin, he was "in love" with Tessa.
"I was stressed. I was really, really stressed," he said. "It's such a bizarre situation -- but one that becomes permissible given the format of The Bachelor -- where you can actually develop very strong feelings for more than one woman coming down to the end... It's something I hate to do, breaking somebody's heart. The love I felt from Bevin was so powerful and I didn't feel the same necessarily back to her. So dealing with that was intense. I was falling in love with Tessa, and once she gave that back to me, I had to really crush Bevin, and it was probably the hardest thing I ever had to do."
Even after she received the final rose and filming for The Bachelor's tenth installment came to a close, Andy knew Tessa would watch Officer and a Gentleman once it aired. But she said she was ready for it, despite still not seeing the finale because she and Andy were on a plane flight from California to New York while the finale was airing on ABC.
"I think that we were realistic going through the process and there aren't huge surprises. I felt by the time the show wrapped I really knew who Andy was and he knew who I was, and that wasn't going to change," explained Tessa. "There's only so much you can say or do to prepare yourself to watch. And I think the best preparation was just Andy being there for me throughout it, reminding me and telling me how much he loved and cared about me. Knowing that there was a light at the end of the tunnel that after getting through this really hard part of the show airing and watching it, it's been great at the end."
"We made it through it and it's made us that much stronger... We're so happy now," added Andy. "We found true love and we're real people. That's what it comes down to. We're very optimistic and we're more in love now than ever, and that's such a great feeling."
As both had to keep their relationship secret while Officer and a Gentleman's eight-episode run aired, Andy and Tessa said their families were still supportive.
"My sister brought me aside and said, 'Andy! She's the one! She's the one!' So that meant a lot to me. Family is so important, and Tessa just fit right in. It was seamless," said Andy, reflecting on Tessa's visit to his childhood home. Of course Andy also met Tessa's family, and she said her family shared the same reservations she expressed throughout The Bachelor's season.
"I think my parents had the initial shock -- and I think it was similar to my shock -- that I was falling in love and it's not a shock of any sort of resistance," she explained. "I think that they would love to get to know Andy... But they're very supportive, and they're very happy to see me happy."
Given they're only seen each other four times since filming for Officer and a Gentleman wrapped, the couple is still learning a lot about each other. Andy said Tessa is a "good cook" and "sweats a lot from her armpits," while Tessa revealed Andy snores and wakes-up at the ungodly hour of 5AM. But she said they're working through everything being thrown at them.
"I definitely think that we've had our share of good days and bad days," she said. "But that's real. That's in any relationship. There isn't anything we haven't been able to work through."
Andy said one recurring theme during Officer and a Gentleman's filming that ABC decided against airing had Tessa bringing him a York Peppermint Pattie every time he saw her.
"I love York Peppermint Patties, so I would really look forward to seeing Tessa so I could get my York Peppermint Pattie," he said before Tessa interjected, "That's how you get them... with sweets!"
Attempting to continue to build a strong relationship now that the cameras have stopped rolling, Tessa said she isn't at all concerned that the romantic side of her bachelor will fade.
"Andy is the most romantic person," she said. "Exclude The Bachelor... take away the whole show. He'd do back flips for romance. There's no question in my mind that it will still be romantic."