During The Bachelor's Season 21 finale Monday night on ABC, Nick proved the fourth time is the charm and got down on one knee to ask Vanessa's hand in marriage. The 29-year-old special education teacher from Montreal, Quebec, Canada couldn't have been more thrilled to accept Nick's proposal in Rovaniemi, Finland.
"I will never forget the first moment I saw you. I was very excited when you got out of the limo but I'll never forget the first moment I started falling in love with you. It was at the second Rose Ceremony, just being next to you, I felt something very special and every moment since then, I've been falling more and more in love with you," Nick told Vanessa, trying to hold back tears the whole time.
"There have been plenty of times when I tried to fight it, and I just don't want to fight it any more, because I do love you. I am in love with you. I'm glad I don't have to try to not say it. So much about you being here has to do with my past, but when I look at you, all that I see is my future."
Nick finally found mutual love and walked away from The Bachelor franchise with a fiancee after getting brutally rejected in the runner-up spot by both Andi Dorfman and Kaitlyn Bristowe on The Bachelorette's tenth and eleventh seasons, respectively, and failing to fall head over heels for Jennifer Saviano on Bachelor in Paradise last summer.
The Bachelor episode began with Nick's family preparing to meet the Bachelor's Final 2 ladies: Vanessa and Raven Gates, a 25-year-old clothing boutique owner from Hoxie, AR. Nick told his loved ones that there were moments with both Vanessa and Raven when he thought, "I love you," but he was trying to hold back until he could be more sure of his feelings.
Nick's dad Chris admitted the family was worried about how Nick would handle and recover from another potential heartbreak.
The Viall family met Raven first, and Bella was so excited she was one of the last women standing. Raven assured Bella that she was in love with Nick, and Bella told Raven that she hoped Nick would pick her in the end.
"We've hung out. We're cool like that," Raven said of Bella.
When speaking to Nick's father, Raven revealed she was hoping for a marriage proposal and wouldn't have lasted this long if she couldn't envision that. Chris could see Raven fitting in with the family well, saying she's more mature than he initially anticipated for her age. Raven then told Nick's mother Mary that her relationship with Nick was effortless and it would be "tragic" if she failed to express how wonderful he is.
Mary couldn't imagine Raven hurting anybody and felt she had affected her son in a very positive way. Mary still feared, however, her son would be blindsided again, which took an emotional toll on the family as a whole after Andi and Kaitlyn's The Bachelorette editions.
When it became Vanessa's turn to meet Nick's family, she knew she was ready to get engaged, but tough conversations needed to be had. Vanessa wanted to end up with Nick but had concerns maybe they weren't ready to get engaged and he was rushing into it. Vanessa also told one of Nick's sisters that she was ready to compromise but uprooting her entire life for a man and leaving her family was no small task or gesture.
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Chris could see in Vanessa what Nick has always found attractive in women, but problems needed to be confronted. When Vanessa asked Chris if love was enough to make a relationship work, he replied, "No, love is not enough. It's commitment; It's selflessness."
Chris choked up into tears and then Vanessa got emotional as well. She really convinced Chris that she loved Nick, but he could tell she feared hurting the Bachelor.
"I'm very convinced at the end of this that Nick will find what he's been looking for," Chris said.
Mary could definitely see that Nick had a connection with both women and her son probably didn't want to make a decision between them. Chris didn't envy his son at all and hoped Nick wouldn't be left standing at "the proposal altar" alone again.
Vanessa felt a new love and appreciation for Nick after meeting his family. The following day, they enjoyed their last one-on-one date of the season. The pair went horseback riding in the snow up the mountains, and Nick felt magic between them -- the same magic he experienced at the beginning of their journey together. Afterward, the couple met Santa Clause.
"I am so in love with Nick. I love everything about him. He's what I've always dreamt of in a future husband," Vanessa told the cameras.
Nick wanted to find a greater love that simply felt different and shined above his past romances. In that same regard, Vanessa wanted to feel special and said she probably wouldn't be comfortable getting engaged if her relationship with Nick was only slightly greater than what he had with someone else, meaning Raven. He didn't give her much validation, and so she became increasingly more insecure and worried.
"There's just something that's not sitting right and I always try to listen to my gut. In past relationships, I ignored what my gut was trying to tell me and ended up miserable. I'm back to being confused and we're days away from the proposal. I think I fear the unknown at this point," Vanessa told the cameras. "Tonight, I'm questioning whether I am ready to get engaged at the end of this."
Nick told Vanessa that night he was very careful with his heart and willingness to express himself because of his past. She wanted more though than general answers.
"Do you feel like you're ready to propose?" Vanessa asked the Bachelor.
"I think the week's not over, and I think I have to use every moment to get there, because you want it to be different and special, and so do I. So I don't want to give it -- as weird as it sounds -- that much thought knowing there are still two people here," Nick confessed.
Vanessa didn't like that answer, but Nick promised her that when he was with her, he only thought about her. Nick just wanted this ending to be epic and spectacular, so he kept his cards close to his chest.
Vanessa cried to the cameras about how it hurt to think about how he could feel similar emotions about Raven. Her gut was telling her to question everything and pretty much run. While Nick wanted to comfort Vanessa and tell her what she wanted to hear, he couldn't do that since Raven was still in the picture and he also had very strong feelings for her.
The next day, Nick and Raven enjoyed their last one-on-one date together. They went ice skating and Nick loved how playful and fun she always was. The Bachelor always felt at ease with Raven, and she was amazed to think this could be her last date "as a single person."
"I'm really confident in our relationship right now. I have no reservations, no hesitations, and I feel like he's going to make the right decision. And of course I am the right decision!" Raven said in a confessional. "The next time I see Nick, he will become my fiance instead of my boyfriend, and that's crazy to think."
After Nick surprised Raven with an arm full of husky puppies, Raven called it a perfect day. With every passing moment, Raven became more sure and ready about wanting to get engaged and spend the rest of her life with Nick. She thought they had "a true" and genuine love.
Nick told Raven that he was a little stressed out, but he loved being in the moment with her. The bachelorette assured Nick that she loved him and was ready to take that next step. She said it would be "really easy" to give him an answer if he decided to get down on one knee. Nick said he never worried about Raven because she was sincere from Day 1.
"More than anyone, I have no reservations about how happy you make me," Nick told Raven.
Nick knew that Raven would always be loyal and willing to fight for what's most important to her. Life with her would be full of laughter and passion, and she'd always have his back.
"I'm more in love with Nick than I ever thought was possible," she gushed to the cameras. "To think that Nick loves me as much as I love him and that it could all work out is indescribable, because it shouldn't happen to a girl from Hoxie, Arkansas."
Raven was certain, without a shadow of a doubt, that the next time she saw Nick, it would be the best day of her life and he'd become her fiance.
After Nick picked out an engagement ring from Neil Lane, everyone got ready for the final Rose Ceremony. Vanessa worried she and Nick wouldn't be able to compromise on where to live, while Raven was just ecstatic about the thought of going to bed that night engaged.
"Raven and I don't have any doubts about one another. It's very easy to envision a future and having a family with Raven. If I asked Raven to marry me, everything tells me she would say yes. Vanessa, on the other hand, is someone who could possibly say no to a proposal, and that's terrifying," Nick told the cameras.
"She wants assurances that aren't realistic in the hopes that she can have a perfect story, and right now, I can't guarantee her anything. I have two wonderful woman that my heart loves very much. This is the moment I've been afraid of since the very beginning. This all could still blow up in my face."
When Nick arrived at his decision, he said it was the "worst feeling" he's ever felt before to know he had to reject one of his Final 2 bachelorettes whom he loved and cared about deeply. Having been in her shoes twice before on The Bachelorette's tenth and eleventh seasons, he found it nearly impossible to say what he needed to say.
Raven, wearing an icy-blue embellished gown, met Nick first at the final Rose Ceremony held in a romantic lodge. Although very nervous, she had "all the faith in the world" everything would work out just as she imagined it would.
"Stepping out of a limo, I never knew that I was walking up to the one who I was going to fall in love with. Our date in Waukesha changed everything and I really got to know the true you, who was honest and kind and who was just everything I always wanted and everyone else fell short of," Raven sweetly told Nick.
"It was obviously a love that my dad had always prayed for me to have -- an easy love. So with that, I want you to know that I'm ready and that I love you."
Nick then replied, "I thought a lot last night and this morning about our time together, our journey, our first conversation... I think about every moment that we've had and I think about how much I've grown to care about you, respect you, and feel how much love I have for you. But in thinking last night and this morning, I just don't know if I'm in love," Nick said as he burst into tears.
"I just know my heart is somewhere else, and it breaks my heart. All I could think of this morning -- when I figured out where my heart was -- was just how much I loved being next to you last night, and it made it that much harder. I'm just torn up inside letting you go. I feel I've been so selfish in figuring out where my heart is at and you've been so selfless in allowing me to do that, and I'm just so sorry."
Raven said she'd "never regret" telling Nick how she felt, and he said in reply, "I'm going to miss you."
"I know," a stoic Raven gently noted with confidence.
"Every person that I've been in a relationship with has said I have everything they want, and it still isn't enough," Raven said in her final words.
"What can I do differently? Is it just that no one can feel that way about me? If I knew I did something wrong, at least I'd have something to blame it on. I wish more than anything that I could find love, but I don't even know if it's possible. So why look for something if it's not possible?"
Nick didn't regret his decision because of how he felt about Vanessa. He had been falling in love with her "for a very long time," although he had fought those feelings at times. Nick was fully prepared to propose but feared the love of his life might turn him down, which would result in a lot of wasted tears and broken.
Vanessa felt in her gut that Nick would propose, but she wondered whether she wanted to get engaged or walk away alone. She wasn't sure he'd be able to handle the pressure of being engaged at the end of all of this and compromise if necessary. She didn't want to hurt him.
Nick started to cry the second Vanessa walked in the room. After Nick gave his beautiful little speech and Vanessa realized in that moment she was his final choice, the bachelorette opened up her heart.
"I remember my first night, walking out of the limo and seeing you for the first time. I knew there was something special and different about you. I thought, 'There's no way he's going to notice me.' Instead, you've noticed every part of me. Nick, when I'm with you, I'm the happiest I've ever been," Vanessa gushed.
"I knew this kind of love existed; I just never thought it was going to happen to me until I met you. So thank you for taking another chance on love. I know things are not going to be easy. I know I can get emotional, a little crazy and I can overthink things when times get hard, but I promise to remind you every day of how happy you make me. And knowing how much I love to talk, I promise I'm ready to do a lot of listening."
Nick then got down on one knee and said, "Vanessa Grimaldi, will you marry me?" Nick asked.
"Yes!" Vanessa said bursting into tears as Nick kissed her forehead.
Nick then offered Vanessa his final rose, which she was more than thrilled to accept with all her heart. The couple took off in a horse-drawn carriage, and Nick told the cameras it felt so good to finally just have one woman in his life, a fiancee.
DuringThe Bachelor: After the Final Rose special, Raven revealed she will definitely be appearing on the upcoming fourth season of Bachelor in Paradise this summer.
Meanwhile, Vanessa shared with fans how things are "good" with Nick but she's "not going to sugarcoat things" because "some days are tougher than others." She sometimes had trouble separating Nick, the guy she was dating, from Nick, the popular The Bachelor star.
Vanessa told host Chris Harrison that she and Nick have been honest with each other and have great communication. The hardest part, of course? Living in different countries.
They love each other, but some days have been "difficult" due to the long distance. There have been times she's wanted Nick to be more empathetic to her feelings since he's not used to being the person who ends up with the franchise's lead.
Despite some blowouts fights, Vanessa said she and Nick have been a team, and they are both excited about the next chapter in their lives together.
In addition, Vanessa plans to move to the United States and begin a charity for people with disabilities in order to bring a piece of herself from home with her to the states. Nick also revealed he's not worried about Dancing with the Stars putting extra pressure on their new relationship.
As for the "historic moment" everyone's been talking about on After the Final Rose, The Bachelorette's Season 13 star Rachel Lindsay was introduced to four of her suitors live on the show. Chris Harrison yelled about how her season therefore just began filming.
"I just want to let you know," a Caucasian bachelor named Dean told the franchise's first-ever African American lead on the stage, "I'm ready to go black, and I'm never going to go back." The remark caused an eruption of laughter from Rachel as well as the audience.