'The Bachelorette' star Tayshia Adams gets engaged to winner Zac Clark after dumping runner-up Ben Smith
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/23/2020
The Bachelorette star Tayshia Adams picked Zac Clark at the end of her journey to find love and the couple got engaged at the Final Rose Ceremony during the Season 16 finale that aired Tuesday night on ABC.
Zac, a 36-year-old addiction specialist from Haddonfield, NJ, was the only man who attended the Final Rose Ceremony after Tayshia eliminated Ben Smith, a 29-year-old Army Ranger veteran from Venice, CA, hours beforehand in second place.
"I can't picture another day, another moment, without you in my life," Zac told Tayshia after she declared him the winner of her heart.
"And if you'll let me, I'm going to choose you right now. I'm going to choose you tomorrow morning. I'm going to choose you next week and next year. I'm going to choose you forever. And I love you."
Zac then got down on one knee as Tayshia openly sobbed with her hands over her mouth.
"Will you marry me?" Zac asked, presenting her with a diamond engagement ring.
"Yes! Yes 1,000 times," Tayshia gushed in reply.
Ivan Hall, a 28-year-old aeronautical engineer from Dallas, TX, was ousted from The Bachelorette in third place following his Fantasy Suite date with Tayshia, who revealed their different religious beliefs posed a threat to a happy future together.
Part 2 of The Bachelorette finale began with Tayshia deciding whether or not to invite Ben back into her life when she already had Ivan and Zac waiting for her at the penultimate Rose Ceremony.
"I really care about Ben, but I sent him home for a reason," Tayshia could be heard telling a The Bachelorette producer behind the scenes.
Ben admitted he should be "long gone" but he and Tayshia definitely had a connection that couldn't be ignored. Ben said he had found a woman whom he's never felt so strongly about and so he couldn't just let her go.
Tayshia asked Ben why he didn't profess his love to her earlier, and he said he was "scared" and "terrified" because it was such an intense feeling.
Ben also assumed he was getting a rose and would progress to the next week, when he'd have the perfect opportunity to tell her how he was feeling during Fantasy Suites.
Tayshia asked Ben if he'd run away every time things got tough if they ended up together, and Ben admitted he had blown it but never experienced a love like this before.
Tayshia told Ben that she missed him but she had a Rose Ceremony that night. Tayshia invited him to the Rose Ceremony but said she had a lot to figure out, and Ben insisted he didn't expect anything from her.
"I just wanted to tell you how I feel. I am in love with you," Ben reiterated.
On Ben's way out of Tayshia's place, she kissed him, and it quickly became apparent there was still a fire between them.
Tayshia said she didn't want to make a bad decision and was mad at herself for kissing him. Ben was shocked by Tayshia's reaction and said he never felt happier in his entire life.
Ben noted he felt "100 percent confident" he was going to receive a rose that night.
It then became time for the penultimate Rose Ceremony that would result in two men meeting Tayshia's family and getting final one-on-one dates with the Bachelorette.
Ivan said he felt very confident he'd be meeting Tayshia's family, and both he and Zac noted they were ready for a potential marriage proposal.
Ivan said he couldn't imagine another guy having a stronger connection with Tayshia than what he had, and Zac was thrilled Tayshia had told him that she was in love with him.
Suddenly, Ben showed up to the Rose Ceremony, and both Ivan and Zac were totally shocked by his presence.
Before handing out roses, Tayshia asked to speak with Ivan privately.
Tayshia explained her relationship with Ivan started off strong and they had established a trust between them but some things they had discussed during their off-camera moments together ultimately gave her some concern.
Tayshia said there weren't any red flags until they talked about religion, and Tayshia noted she has strong beliefs and morals without pointing out their differences for the viewer.
Tayshia insisted she thought the world of Ivan, and he replied, "I totally get it. It just sucks. I meant every word when I said I was falling in love with you... I just hate that it can't work out."
"I knew in the back of my mind this could be a bomb that just explodes everything, and it just happened. It's definitely going to sting for a while, that's for sure. You don't just fall out of love overnight," Ivan said following his ouster.
"I think this is a lot harder than Tayshia imagined, and I don't know if she'll end up with anybody at the end of this. I think me and her made the most sense."
Ivan added in his final words, "It's going to be tough on her. She's not going to pick anybody, I don't think."
Tayshia told Ben and Zac there were things about her future with Ivan that didn't align and she felt great about the two guys she had left. Tayshia then handed her roses to Zac and Ben.
The next day, Tayshia said she felt like she had done the right thing by eliminating Ivan. Tayshia didn't want to make a mistake and "end up in a bad situation again."
It then became time for Ben to meet Tayshia's family, and Tayshia let her parents know how Ben had returned to the show after being eliminated.
Tayshia's father Desmond said he needed to maintain an open mind but Ben showing up after his elimination said something about his character and Ben essentially hadn't put his best foot forward.
Tayshia said she really liked Ben since Day 1 and they had deep conversations. She explained that Ben was one of the first people whom she could envision herself ending up with.
Upon meeting Ben, Desmond said Ben's background showed that he has ambition, but at the same time, he didn't want to see Tayshia work so hard for a man to be on the same page in terms of feelings.
Ben told Tayshia's mother, Rosario, that his love for Tayshia was a once-in-a-lifetime feeling and he wanted to have children with The Bachelorette star. Ben said their romance was "a forever thing" and he wasn't going anywhere.
Desmond asked Ben what he saw in Tayshia, and Ben explained that Tayshia made him feel incredible and he'd be "an idiot" to not come back and try again. Ben insisted he was ready to get married after meeting Tayshia because there's no other woman like her.
"I fell in love with your daughter several weeks ago, and I was terrified to share that with her because I didn't know if it would be reciprocated," Ben shared with Desmond.
Desmond appreciated Ben's vulnerability and believed he had been sincere. Desmond felt better about Ben's intentions and how Ben had taken responsibility for his mistakes like a man. Desmond initially had his doubts, but he was ready to give Ben a chance.
Ben was so grateful Tayshia had taken him back, and he felt like he fit in well with her family.
Tayshia said she was already falling in love with Ben but she put her heart on hold once he left the show. However, after a wonderful day, Tayshia found herself falling for the bachelor again.
Tayshia's loved ones then met Zac, who called it the "most important day" of his life. Zac was ready and willing to tell Tayshia's parents that he wanted to marry their daughter.
Desmond said he didn't want to see Tayshia go through another painful divorce and so Zac needed to be "the real deal."
Zac told Tayshia's family that Tayshia had the ability to light up a room, and Tayshia shared with her father how Zac was "a good guy" who made her laugh, happy and excited.
Tayshia said Zac was an 8.95 on a scale of 1-10 only because she needed her family's approval. But Desmond reminded Tayshia there was "no rush."
Zac revealed to Rosario that he was in love with Tayshia and she also said it back to him, resulting in "a beautiful moment" for them both. Zac said his feelings for Tayshia grew stronger every time they met and he saw themselves getting married and starting a family in five years.
Zac told Desmond that he married back in 2009 but his marriage didn't last long because he had been partying too much and didn't understand the gravity of marriage at the time. Desmond told Zac that he didn't want their relationship to be "a test" after the show considering an engagement might be attached.
Zac said Desmond had set Tayshia's expectations very high but he looked forward to rising to the challenge. Zac also promised he wouldn't propose marriage unless he was totally committed to being with Tayshia forever, and Desmond said Zac had put him at ease.
Zac then had pizza delivered to the gathering, and Rosario noticed her daughter's chemistry with Zac appeared to be really good. Rosario also thought Zac was "sweet and caring."
Tayshia said a part of her heart wanted each man and she could picture an engagement with either guy, who were completely different from one another.
Desmond visited with his daughter the next day to make sure she didn't have any doubts.
Desmond explained that the family didn't want Tayshia to make a mistake because no one wanted to see her in pain again. Desmond was afraid for Tayshia to go down the wrong path again, and he said, "I don't want you to be making the biggest mistake of your life."
Tayshia knew her father meant well, but she said the conversation left her feeling a little heavy. Tayshia recalled "wailing" to her father in a car when she was divorcing her ex and her father feeling totally helpless sitting next to her.
Tayshia cried to the cameras, saying the process was getting to be "too much" for her. Tayshia feared getting "screwed over again," although she noted Zac isn't her ex-husband.
Zac and Tayshia later embarked on their last one-on-one date of the season, and Tayshia said she had to decide whether she even wanted to get married again.
Tayshia admitted stress was settling in, but Zac reminded the Bachelorette that he felt "very ready" to take their romance to the next level. He said he could feel the weight on her shoulders and a sense of trepidation.
"I want her to know that I'm not going anywhere," Zac insisted in a confessional, adding that he wanted to support Tayshia "now and forever" because she's so special.
Tayshia and Zac then learned a traditional wedding dance under the guidance of two professional dance instructors, which made the idea of marriage even more real for Tayshia, who was stuck in her head.
Tayshia couldn't find any flaws in Zac, but she worried about finding a red flag or two months down the road.
Tayshia didn't want to ignore any potential problems because she was so happy and caught up in the moment, and so she planned to follow her father's advice that evening and dig deep.
That evening, Tayshia confessed she had been feeling "a little funky" earlier in the day because she was starting to think about things that could possibly go wrong between them in the future.
Tayshia feared, for example, Zac changing his mind about the independent and driven woman she is when she decides to be a stay-at-home mother.
Tayshia said life was going to happen and she was used to men running away from her, but Zac assured Tayshia that their connection was fun and playful and he'd do everything possible to hold onto that forever.
Zac revealed that day was the nine-year anniversary of him being sober, which he said is the most important thing in his life because being sober doesn't allow him to run away. Zac said he was prepared to face life head-on and it broke his heart to hear about Tayshia's concerns.
Zac told Tayshia that if he proposed marriage to her, he'd be committing himself to her for the rest of their lives.
"I know, Tayshia, why I love you. And that has nothing to do with five years from now, if you want to be a stay-at-home mom or a waitress. It's not the reason why I love you," Zac explained.
Tayshia loved how Zac loved her wholeheartedly, and she said he made her feel safe, heard, and special. Tayshia told Zac that he's the best man she could ever dream of.
"I think she believes in me. This is actually truly the scariest part, because when the love is like this and it's real and it's strong, there's a lot to lose. And she's the best," Zac gushed in a confessional.
Tayshia could tell Zac was sincere and genuine, and Zac reminded Tayshia of how much he loved her before leaving her room. She said she went to bed feeling "pretty damn good."
The following day, Tayshia was about to enjoy her final moments with Ben, who said, "I have a feeling I'm going to propose to her and she's going to say 'yes.'"
However, Tayshia woke up that morning feeling "very, very nervous."
"It's only because at this point, I feel like I know what my heart wants, and it's not Ben," Tayshia acknowledged. "I wish my heart was with Ben, but it's just not."
Tayshia said she knew what she needed to do, and so she and Ben sat down to talk.
Tayshia told Ben that he had set the bar high for other men because of his vulnerability early on and she cared about him a lot; however, she confessed that her heart was with somebody else.
Tayshia asked Ben not to second-guess anything because she truly wanted to give their relationship another chance. Tayshia explained they had missed out on time together that was simply "monumental."
Ben admitted he had been very hopeful they'd end up together and that wasn't going to change.
"I saw it kind of differently, but when you love somebody, you want them to be happy," Ben responded.
Ben and Tayshia therefore hugged each other goodbye, and Ben noted that he was happy for Tayshia and her final decision to be with Zac.
"I put all of myself into this, and so, um, I thought I was going to be her husband. I'm still in love with her, I don't know what the f-ck to do now, but man," Ben lamented following his ouster.
"I lost a really good thing. All of the things I was looking for, all of the things that I saw in her, all of the beauty that she has, our life would have been so good."
Ben added, "She was perfect for me."
The next morning, Tayshia only had one man left, and she said, "Today is the day, and I cannot believe I'm here."
"I can honestly say wholeheartedly that Zac is my person. And I truly don't think I have the words to describe the love that I have for him and the way that he makes me feel," Tayshia told the cameras. "But there is still the fear of, 'What if we leave here and things change?'"
Tayshia was a bit stressed out and worried, but Zac gushed about being ready to propose to the woman of his dreams.
Zac said his love for Tayshia transcended her physical beauty because she's everything he's ever wanted in a partner. Zac bragged about being the luckiest guy in the world, and then he appeared to pick out an emerald-cut diamond for The Bachelorette star.
Tayshia was scared and wondered if it was "too much, too soon" with Zac, but when she approached the Final Rose Ceremony and met with the show's host Chris Harrison, she was a little nervous.
Tayshia became extremely emotional over the idea of how much she loved Zac and how much was on the line.
"I question if I've ever been in love, true love, until now," Tayshia told Chris in tears. "I'm just excited."
Once Tayshia took her place at the Final Rose Ceremony, she admitted she didn't know whether she was doing the right thing because she never wanted to experience the same heartache she felt when her previous marriage failed.
When Zac pulled up in a limo, he told the cameras he couldn't picture his life without Tayshia. Zac said he had waited his entire existence for this moment and Tayshia saying "yes" to his proposal would make him the happiest man in the world.
When the couple reunited, Zac told Tayshia that he was supposed to meet her and fall in love with her. Zac said from their first kiss to meeting each other's families, she helped him experience a love that he never knew existed and made him smile more than every before.
"I love you Tayshia. I love you because you're a fighter. I love you because you're a strong, independent woman who makes everyone around you better. I love you because you believe in me. I love you because you're a total dork. And I love you because you drive me absolutely wild. I love everything about you," Zac said.
Zac promised Tayshia that he would be loyal to her, and then after catching his breath for a moment, Tayshia began her speech.
Tayshia told Zac that she didn't know finding true love on The Bachelorette was possible. Tayshia said she thought Zac was "different" when they first met but he turned out to be kind, grateful and a smiling human being.
"He has been through a lot but has never given up. He also has learned to read me better than anyone else ever has and knows how to comfort me when I'm down. There was one point in my life when I thought I'd never get married because of the pain and heartbreak I've been through -- and I absolutely hit rock bottom," Tayshia said.
Tayshia started to cry and needed a moment to compose herself before sharing, "It's more than that."
"It's this wild, wild love that I have tried to come up with so many reasons to not believe, and you have truly made me believe there doesn't need to be flaws, that I deserve a love with a man that won't run away," Tayshia continued.
"You've truly opened up my heart, and yes, it is real. And I feel it too."
Tayshia said she looked forward to making traditions with Zac and starting a life with him, and she concluded her speech by saying she loved Zac and would do everything in her power to keep a smile on his face.
"Because you do everything to keep a smile on mine," Tayshia noted.
Zac broke down into tears and said his family knew that he was going to end up with Tayshia once they could see the smile that she brought to his face after years of being single and alone.
After Zac proposed marriage and the couple hugged and kissed, Zac placed the engagement ring on Tayshia's left hand.
"Do you believe it?" Zac asked.
"No!" Tayshia exclaimed. "Do you?"
"Yes!" Zac responded.
Tayshia joyfully repeated, "We did it," after the couple got engaged, and then Tayshia offered Zac her final rose, which he accepted without hesitation or reservation.
Zac called it the best day of his life, and the pair danced at the Final Rose Ceremony. Zac joked about having children in the near future, "He's the gas and I'm the brakes!"
Tayshia and Zac then took off in a taxi, and Tayshia yelled, "Off to New York! I love New York!"