The Bachelor third-season star Andrew Firestone said he was "shell-shocked" after things didn't work with Jen Schefft.

"I was totally crushed, I tried so hard to make it work," Firestone told Us Weekly in the magazine's June 23 issue.  "But everything happens for a reason.  Sometimes you get hurt before you actually make it right."

Firestone plans to "make it right" this July when he weds actress/model Ivana Bozilovic, whom he proposed to last September on the beach prior to a surprise 30th birthday party he planned for her, popping the question with a 2.5-carat diamond ring he helped design.

"For us, a big part of the wedding is getting ready to start a family," Firestone told Us.  "We both want kids so badly."

Firestone starred in The Bachelor's Spring 2003 third season, where he narrowed a field of 25 bachelorettes down to Jen Schefft and proposed to her in the show's finale. However there was no marriage and they eventually split in December 2003

"I was probably a little too young," Firestone told Us, reflecting on Schefft.  "The relationship felt right at the time.  When you get into a relationship, you have to jump in with reckless abandon.  So I made myself totally vulnerable and I ended up getting bitten."

Firestone added he "was going above and beyond to try to make it work" with Schefft, but she eventually starred in The Bachelorette's third season in Winter 2005.  Schefft subsequently rejected marriage proposals from both Jerry Ferris and John Paul Merritt in The Bachelorette's third-season finale.

"I would never point fingers, but when Jen did The Bachelorette, I was like, 'Okay, you see now that there might have been an issue?'  Did that look like somebody who wanted to be in a committed relationship and make things work?" Firestone asked Us.  "That was -- in a small way -- vindicating.  People saw that maybe she wasn't ready, maybe it wasn't my fault.  I felt relieved a little."

Not only did Firestone say he felt vindicated after the way The Bachelorette ended, he also met Bozilovic immediately after filming an appearance on The Bachelorette: The Men Tell All in February 2005.

"I was with friends at the Four Seasons Hotel in L.A. and had three hours before a flight, and they said, 'There's a girl you have to meet,'" Firestone told Us.  "She walks up -- stunningly beautiful -- and she's wearing a sweat suit with this big wet mark and she's laughing and she says, 'I sat in a puddle.'  How disarming is it to see this beautiful girl laughing at herself?"

"It's the way you want to make a first impression, for sure," Bozilovic told Us.

While Bozilovic said she recognized Firestone for his stint on The Bachelor, she added she never watched the ABC reality dating series.

"I was kind of turned off by the fact that he was The Bachelor -- not the type of guy I wanted to date," she told Us.  "But that went away within the first few minutes.  Just talking, you could tell how genuine he was."
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Still, when the couple embarked on their first date on Valentine's Day 2005, Bozilovic said she was a little guarded.  But Firestone persisted and she met his family on Easter 2005 -- which is when they both said they knew they were right for each other.

"It's a lot to handle," Firestone told Us.  "It's one of those situations where it's like, 'Let's see how it goes, and if she doesn't like it, it'll be a good test.'  And it was the opposite."

"I'd never seen him around kids before, and my guard -- which had been up, up, up -- was gone," added Bozilovic.  "He's so good with kids it's unbelievable.  It melted my heart."

The two continued to date before rumors started to circulate early last summer that they were planning to wed, which apparently caught Schefft's attention.

"She texted me about a year ago when there was a rumor that Ivana and I were engaged, but I didn't respond," Firestone told Us.  "I know that sounds mean, but I just figure when an ex contacts you, if you write back, it means you're interested."

As he prepares to walk down the aisle during his wedding ceremony to Bozilovic at St. Mark's in the Valley Episcopal Church in Santa Ynez -- in which The Bachelor host Chris Harrison will be one of the 300 guests in attendance -- Firestone said he recently had the opportunity to relive some of his The Bachelor experience.

"They were playing reruns on VH1, and I've grown up so much since then," he told Us.  "The Bachelor, in a way, was my maturation process.  You talk about your feelings and spend so much time on self-analysis that it's therapeutic.  You vet out what you want.  I'm grateful for that."
About The Author: Christopher Rocchio
Christopher Rocchio is an entertainment reporter for Reality TV World and has covered the reality TV genre for several years.