Aug. 6, 2013 at 4:00 PM ET
"Bachelorette" Desiree Hartsock accepted a proposal from Chris Siegfried on Monday's dramatic finale, but she insists that she didn't just "settle" for him.
"Chris was never a second choice," she said during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. "There were still two weeks left even when Brooks (Forester) left."
Hartsock, who was devastated after the frontrunner unexpectedly quit the show, said that Forester's unexpected departure actually helped her realize that she had deep feelings for Siegfried all along.
"Those last two weeks ... those are the most vital," Hartsock said. "Regardless of Brooks leaving or not and what was going on with my emotions, and how strongly I felt, I still don't know how it would have ended up, because Chris and I always had a strong connection from the very first time we ever talked.
"I never had any kind of hopes for Brooks to come back," Harstock insisted. "That ship had sailed."
For his part, Siegfried said that he wanted to propose to Hartsock regardless of who else she might have been in love with.
"When Brooks ultimately decided to leave, while that did play a little bit of a factor, it didn't really affect my decision-making process," Siegfried told reporters. "I still knew at the end of the day I wanted to be with Des."
Forester, for his part, doesn't regret his decision to leave. "I didn't have a moment where I felt where I should go back and hash things out with Des," he told reporters.
Hartsock and Siegfried, who made their first post-proposal public appearance on the "After the Final Rose" special Monday night, say that while no wedding date has been set, they'd like to marry next summer. They also said Hartsock will be relocating to Seattle later this week to be with her fiance.
"We actually have our first date planned, and that’s just to explore Seattle," Hartsock said. "Take a walk, grab some breakfast. We don’t need the mountains and the helicopters, we just need a good conversation and time together."
Hartsock, who is a bridal stylist, told TODAY.com that she plans to work on a jewelry line and bridal line while living in Seattle.
"My entire dream for many, many years is to design my own bridal gown collection," Hartsock, who plans to design her own wedding gown, said. "I can design anywhere I want to be and I can be creative so that's what I plan to do.
"Honestly, I don't think either one of us have a desire to pursue television," Hartsock said. "We want to focus on our own relationship outside of TV but we're still open to certain things, if they're catered to our career goals ... possibly a (televised) wedding."