For the Season 13 Bachelorette finale, ABC decided to do things a little differently. Instead of waiting until "After The Final Rose" to bring Rachel in front of the live audience, producers had her join the set at the start of the episode. She then watched the finale for the first time with the rest of America.
The last episode had ended with Rachel and Peter struggling with their relationship. Rachel told Chris during the live finale that she had first started to see the cracks in their romance back in Geneva. But she still wanted to make things work.
We then picked up with Rachel and Peter's emotional overnight date in Spain. Peter had just told Rachel that he wasn't sure if he was ready to propose. Rachel started crying, in part because she realized she was falling for Peter. Peter agreed that they had an incredible connection that he was still willing to fight for.
Watch Peter and Rachel's emotional date in Spain.
Rachel felt they still needed time together to fix their relationship. So she gave him the Fantasy Suite date card. Peter accepted the offer. But Rachel was still getting flashbacks to her previous long-term relationship, where she thought she was heading for an engagement but ended up heartbroken instead.
The next morning, Peter admitted that some of his doubts had started to "fade." And Rachel agreed that the time they had spent together had brought them closer. But she still knew they were on different pages when it came to getting engaged.
Next, it was Bryan's turn to spend the day with Rachel in Spain. They immediately embraced before touring a local vineyard on horseback. Bryan had never felt happier.
After the horseback ride, the duo sat down and had some drinks. But while Rachel loved spending time with Bryan, her conversation with Peter had put the upcoming elimination at the forefront of her mind. It made it hard for her to completely focus on her date. And Bryan could tell that Rachel wasn't totally invested.
Watch Bryan question Rachel's behavior during their date.
Back in the live studio, Rachel said she was really struggling that week to compartmentalize her individual relationships with each of the three guys. She felt bad about how much she was in her head during Bryan's date.
Chris Harrison then asked Rachel how close she was to dumping Peter before giving him the Fantasy Suite date card. Rachel admitted that she was "ready to send him home" but decided to "see it through."
Back in Spain, Rachel and Bryan's date continued into the night. And Bryan brought up his concerns about their time together earlier that day. Rachel insisted her odd behavior had nothing to do with Bryan, and she apologized for seeming distracted. She decided to spend the rest of the night focused on Bryan. So she gave him the Fantasy Suite date card. Bryan unsurprisingly accepted, and Rachel felt good about the way their relationship was moving forward.
We then checked back in with Rachel in Los Angeles. She revealed that she had a list of questions to ask each guy during the Fantasy Suite dates. Like a true lawyer, she even asked them about their health insurance and credit scores! She also said she was a "mess" heading into the Final Three rose ceremony, even though she was clear about her decision.
Bryan and Rachel felt good after their night in the Fantasy Suite. And Bryan was confident he would end up with the final rose.
Heading into the rose ceremony, Rachel admitted she wanted someone who was confident in what he wanted – and Peter didn't fit that description. Still, she gave him a rose, along with Bryan. So Eric Bigger was sent home.
Rachel escorted Eric out after his elimination. Rachel told him that she loved him, she just wasn't in love with him. Through tears, Eric said he would always love her and thanked her for being open with him. And he continued crying as he rode away in the limo.
"Eric and I get each other in such a different way than any of the other men that have been here," Rachel told the camera. "And it's so evident in him saying goodbye. No bitterness, no hate, no regrets. And that's why Eric is such an amazing and beautiful person. But it's also why I'm not completely confident in my decision to say goodbye to him."
In the live studio, Rachel reiterated that she feared she was making a mistake sending Eric home. She also said she was "excited" but "nervous" to see him again.
Eric then came out on stage to speak with his ex. He asked if she was happy, and she said she was. Eric also said he was "phenomenal." Things were a bit awkward, but there were clearly no hard feelings.
Eric admitted he had been confused when Rachel sent him home. He had been confident heading into the rose ceremony that Rachel would eliminate Peter because he wasn't ready to propose. Rachel even made it clear during the ceremony that she was looking for a husband, not just a boyfriend.
Rachel explained that her relationship with Eric had a good "rhythm." Yet she said her relationships with Peter and Bryan were just stronger.
Eric again thanked Rachel for loving him. He had never had love before, and getting love from Rachel made him feel like a man for the first time.
Next up, Rachel had her last dates with the final two guys. She took Bryan up in a hot air balloon so they could explore Spain from above. They shared a romantic kiss, and Bryan was even more confident that Rachel was the woman for him. He was just scared that she may reject him in the end.
That evening, Rachel admitted she did have some doubts. Bryan reassured her that he would always love her, and that Rachel would be making a mistake if she didn't pick him. Bryan then gave Rachel a final gift – a Spanish-to-English dictionary that included words like "husband", "wife," and "forever."
Rachel also felt scared heading into her last date with Peter – especially since she still wasn't sure if he was ready to propose. Peter also couldn't get Rachel's comments from the rose ceremony out of his mind.
For their final date, Rachel took Peter to a gorgeous monastery. And, of course, their tour guide asked them about marriage. Peter again made it clear that he truly values marriage and thus only wants to get engaged and married once.
Rachel and Peter then had some time to themselves. Peter told Rachel that he saw a future with her. He also maintained that he wasn't afraid to get married. He just wasn't sure if he could decide in 24 hours whether he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Rachel. Rachel was more confused than ever.
That night, Peter admitted that he knew Rachel was talking to her when she made her comments at the rose ceremony. He also confirmed he was in love with her. But while he still wanted to be with her, he still wasn't ready to propose.
Rachel couldn't understand why Peter kept talking about their future together yet wasn't ready to make a commitment. Rachel feared that if she just agreed to date Peter after the finale, there was no guarantee their relationship would ever take the next step. But Peter was still adamant that he wouldn't act on impulse and propose when he wasn't ready. Peter then asked Rachel if she was ready to spend the rest of her life with him. But she wouldn't answer.
Still, Peter wanted to stay in the competition. He admitted he might change his mind in the morning. Rachel, however, knew Peter would just be proposing because of the fear and pressure, and she didn’t want that. She didn't want him to do something he didn't want to do. But Peter said that losing Rachel would hurt him more.
Peter admitted he wasn't sure if he wanted the events of the next day to change the rest of his life. Rachel said she wanted someone who was more sure. And she couldn't bring him to the rose ceremony if he wasn't ready to propose. So they agreed to part ways. But before they did, Peter told Rachel that she knew where to find him if she changed her mind. They also shared an emotional goodbye kiss and said "I love you" to each other.
Rachel started bawling as Peter begged her to give him another chance. But she knew nothing would change his mind.
In the live studio, Rachel admitted she was still frustrated watching back her breakup with Peter. But she just saw too many similarities with her last relationship, where her ex didn’t know what he wanted.
Then Rachel and Peter came face to face for the first time since their emotional split. Rachel again told him how frustrated and confused she was. She wondered why he had stayed so long if he wasn't ready to propose. He replied that he stayed because he wanted a future with her. Peter also admitted that even all these months later, he still struggled with his decision to let her go.
Rachel did reveal that there had been some other issues between them. It wasn't just that he wouldn't propose; it was that they were in different places when it came to relationships. She felt Peter wasn't willing to take the steps necessary to spend the rest of his life with her.
Rachel appreciated that Peter did things at his own pace, but she didn't think the Bachelorette experience was for him. He prefers to take his time with relationships, while Bachelorette is all about falling in love and getting engaged in just a few months' time.
Peter and Rachel both agreed they were frustrated by the whole situation. Peter, in particular, said he felt "attacked" but wouldn't go any further. But he said he wouldn't feel so emotional if he didn't still care about Rachel. And ultimately, he didn't regret how their breakup happened.
Then he left Rachel with a final message: "Thank you for giving me a chance. You allowed me to stay as long as you did, and that gave me an opportunity to get the feelings that going into the process I didn't know were possible. And I was skeptical, and you proved to me that throughout all of it, I could develop feelings of love.
Peter continued, "And while maybe things didn't end the way that I had hoped, I have you to thank for the feelings that I did have. So I wish you nothing for the best, and I really just want happiness for you, that's all." Peter even told Rachel that he still had feelings for her.
Then it was back to the events in Spain. Rachel admitted that Peter's comments had made her question whether she was rushing into a proposal. And she wasn't sure if she was in the right headspace after the emotion of the night before.
Watch Rachel question if she was ready for a proposal.
Bryan, however, was definitely ready to propose. He picked out a ring and headed to meet Rachel. And he was feeling pretty confident, though he still had a bit of doubt.
Bryan told her that he knew from the first night that they could "be something special." He told her she was everything he ever wanted, and that he was totally in love with her.
Rachel replied that in the past, she had been drawn to damaged relationships. That was why she questioned whether Bryan was too perfect. But she ultimately realized that she couldn't see her life with anyone else.
Then Bryan prepared his proposal. "I am the best version of myself when I'm with you," he told her. "You are so easy and effortless to love. And I just want to love you for the rest of my life." Bryan got down on one knee, and Rachel literally jumped for joy. They were so happy as she showed off her ring and he carried her in his arms.
The happiness continued when they reunited on the live Bachelorette set. Bryan even proposed to Rachel a second time. And they wouldn't stop kissing on the couch.
Still, the couple has some logistics to work out. Bryan admitted that he and Rachel haven't decided where they are going to live. They also haven't set a wedding date, though Rachel wanted to get married during the winter.
"We're not rushing anything," Rachel said. "We just want to build our lives together and get to know each other in a normal sense."
As for Bryan's mom? She is now happy to welcome Rachel into the family. Rachel, meanwhile, admitted her family was skeptical at first, but they trust her judgment. In fact, having to defend Bryan to her family during his trip to Dallas made her realize he was the one.
Are you happy that Bryan won The Bachelorette? Or do you think Rachel should have chosen Peter? Let us know your take in the comments section below!