In 2002, “The Bachelor” debuted on television screens across America and has managed to maintain a dedicated fanbase — labeled by the show as Bachelor Nation — ever since. The following year, in 2003, “The Bachelorette” premiered.
So far, there have been 26 leads of “The Bachelor” and, after doubling up on a few recent seasons, there have now been 21 Bachelorettes.
Although most seasons end in a proposal, the franchise is often scrutinized for its success rate. After their on-screen engagements, couples often break up, like Bachelorette Michelle Young and winner Nayte Olukoya recently did.
It’s true that the majority of the couples never tie the knot after leaving the show, but there are a few success stories that Bachelor Nation celebrates. In other cases, former leads will go on to find happy endings with other "Bachelor" alums: In 2022, Bachelorette Becca Kufrin announced her engagement to former contestant Thomas Jacobs after meeting on "Bachelor in Paradise."
For the sake of this list, we're limiting our scope to former couples that met on "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette." Take a look at all the contestants who have proven for 20 years that it is possible to find love on reality television.
'The Bachelorette' couples
Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter ('The Bachelorette' Season 1)
The first-ever Bachelorette and her husband are still going strong. The couple tied the knot in a television special in 2003. Trista Sutter famously jumped into her husband’s arms after hearing the officiant say to Ryan Sutter, “Will you please kiss your bride?”
The Sutters now have two children: 15-year-old son Maxwell and 13-year-old daughter Blakesley.
Last month, the pair opened up about Ryan Sutter being diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2021.
“For so long, I was only thinking about how to survive the day,” he told People. “But I feel like my life is coming back. And that’s been really encouraging.” Trista Sutter told People, “Ryan is our everyday hero, so to see him feel like crap, that just weighs on you.”
Ryan Sutter said he is "feeling better" after finding treatment that works for him, and has even resumed his backpacking adventures with his children.
On Sunday, Trista Sutter shared an Instagram photo of her and her husband attending a wedding and celebrating with friends.
Desiree Hartsock and Chris Siegfried ('The Bachelorette' Season 9)
Desiree Hartsock Siegfried had a slightly bumpy end to her season when one of her frontrunners, Brooks Forester, broke up with her during fantasy suite week. She recovered from the heartbreak and accepted a proposal from Chris Siegfried.
Chris and Desiree Siegfried had a strong connection throughout her season, but some fans were convinced at the time that she had settled.
Almost 10 years later, Desiree and Chris’s love story is still going strong, proving all the naysayers wrong.
They now have two sons, Asher, 6, and Zander, 3, and celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary earlier this year.
During Katie Thurston’s season of “The Bachelorette” last year, Desiree Siegfried returned to the show to give Thurston some advice about following her heart.
In a deleted scene from the final episode shared on Instagram, Desiree Siegfried FaceTimed Thurston and said, “You want a man who’s going to stay there for you no matter what. You also don’t want someone who’s going to walk away at hard things.”
During their conversation, Desiree Siegfried also praised her husband for being confident in their relationship throughout her “Bachelorette” journey.
Desiree Siegfried also offered relationship advice to her Instagram followers.
“Family friendly tip: say something nice to your significant other and to your children today,” she wrote in the caption of an Instagram photo. “A simple compliment can make all the difference in edifying the ones you love and create unity in the household.”
Last year, Chris Siegfried celebrated his wife's birthday on Instagram.
JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers ('The Bachelorette' Season 12)
From the first episode, it was clear that JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers had a connection — the former NFL pro received her first impression rose. The two walked away from the show engaged in 2018.
Instead of quickly getting married, the two decided to extend their engagement. In 2019, Rodgers actually proposed to Fletcher again with a new ring.
In May, Fletcher posted an adorable Instagram video that included clips of the proposal and the moment Rodgers stepped out of the limo on night one.
“6 years with you. Here’s to forever, my love. Happy Anniversary,” she captioned the video.
A couple days after her post, the two tied the knot. She uploaded a photo from their wedding to Instagram and wrote, “5.14.22. Get ready for me to overload you with a million more pics ... it TRULY was the best weekend ever & I can’t wait to share!”
Rachel Lindsay and Bryan Abasolo ('The Bachelorette' Season 13)
Rachel Lindsay made history as the first Black Bachelorette. At the end of her season, Bryan Abasolo, who was also her first impression rose recipient, got down on one knee and asked Lindsay to be his “reina,” which means queen in Spanish, for the rest of their lives.
In 2019, the two married in a destination wedding in Cancún. Their nuptials make Season 13 the most recent season that resulted in the show's lead marrying their final pick.
A year later, Lindsay, who was introduced on Nick Viall’s season of “The Bachelor” as an attorney, switched careers and became a correspondent for “Extra.”
At the time, she was still involved in Bachelor Nation and co-hosted the “Bachelor Happy Hour” podcast. But after an “Extra” interview with former "Bachelor" host and executive producer Chris Harrison, in which he defended a contestant's decision to attend a racist antebellum-themed party, Lindsay publicly distanced herself from the franchise and left the podcast "Bachelor Happy Hour."
However, Lindsay checks in from time to time since Absasolo currently co-hosts another Bachelor Nation podcast called “Talking It Out.” She made an appearance on her husband’s show in May.
On Tuesday, Lindsay uploaded a picture to Instagram of her sharing a kiss with Abasolo at an event they attended.
“Spotted: Rachel and Bryan cozying up at the @fanatics player party for a *rare* public sighting,” she said in the caption. “Behind closed doors, they’re right where they want to be, with each other. Xoxo Gossip Girl.”
On her website, Lindsay wrote about why she generally keeps her relationship private.
"Our contractual public story ended on August 7, 2017. At that point, we decided that we wanted to control the future of our relationship ... Bryan and I choose not to share too much. That is mostly rooted in the origin of our union. Meeting in such a public manner allowed so many unwarranted feelings and opinions from complete strangers. We did not want those voices to be louder than the two actually involved in the relationship," she wrote.
'The Bachelor' couples
Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici ('The Bachelor' Season 17)
In 26 seasons of “The Bachelor,” there is only one lead who married his final choice: Sean Lowe.
Lowe and Catherine Giudici had one of the show’s best love stories. Giudici was not involved in any of the drama during Season 17, so she was not featured in the episodes at the beginning. Despite her lack of screen time, it was clear by hometowns that the two had chemistry and a strong bond.
Their wedding was televised in 2014 and the two have since welcomed three children: 6-year-old son Samuel, 4-year-old son Isaiah and 2-year-old daughter Mia.
On July 13, Lowe shared a photo of their children playing with their dog, Gus.
“I know it’s a brag, but I’ve taught all four of them to sit on command,” Lowe joked in the caption. “Now we just need to get the human ones house broken. Also, decent chance Isaiah has an evil plan to take out Gus.”
The couple also gets alone time. Lowe uploaded a picture to Instagram of him and his wife embracing at a beach resort in Florida with a cheeky caption: “All these years later and she still makes my pants tingle,” he said.
Matt James and Rachel Kirkconnell ('The Bachelor' Season 25)
Matt James was originally supposed to be on Clare Crawley’s season of “The Bachelorette," but the show decided to make him the first Black “Bachelor” instead.
As a newbie to Bachelor Nation, James — the best friend and former college roommate of "Bachelorette" alum Tyler Cameron — appeared to be slightly uncomfortable throughout his season.
James recently opened up to the Los Angeles Times about his portrayal on the show.
“There was nothing to lay the framework — my background, who I was or why I’m here,” he explained. “It wasn’t the right audience. My message was not the one that 'The Bachelor' was trying to promote across their franchise, which is fine.”
His season was plagued with controversy after social media users shared photos of frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell — ultimately James’ final pick — attending an Antebellum plantation-themed party in 2018.
Before Kirkconnell spoke out about the pictures, Harrison was interviewed by Lindsay on “Extra” about the situation.
“If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?” Lindsay, the franchise's first Black bachelorette, said.
“I don’t disagree with you,” Harrison replied. “You’re 100 percent right — in 2021. That was not the case in 2018. Again, I’m not defending Rachael. I just know, I don’t know, 50 million people did that in 2018 … that was a type of party that a lot of people went to.”
When Harrison was subsequently removed as host for his comments, Emmanuel Acho stepped in to host “After the Final Rose” episode, during which James broke up with Kirkconnell. “The most disappointing thing for me was having to explain to you why what I saw was problematic and why I was so upset," James said on the show.
The two later reconciled and James wrote about his experience on the show in a memoir titled “First Impressions: Off-Screen Conversations With a Bachelor on Race, Family, and Forgiveness,” which was released in May.
The couple shares photos from their life together on social media, including an Instagram slideshow of a recent trip to Disneyland. “Family trip,” James wrote in the caption with a heart emoji.
Clayton Echard and Susie Evans ('The Bachelor' Season 26)
Season 26 marked the first time a Bachelor was rejected at the end of his own season.
After Clayton Echard admitted to Susie Evans that he had been “intimate” with Rachel Recchia and Gabriela “Gabby” Windey (the two current Bachelorettes) in the camera-free "fantasy suites," Evans decided to leave the show.
Host Jesse Palmer convinced Evans to return and possibly give Echard another chance. Echard shared his feelings with Evans and asked her to meet him at the final rose ceremony. Evans arrived and told Echard that she wanted to leave the show single.
Cut to the “After the Final Rose” episode in March, where the leads had a major surprise: Evans joined Echard on stage and said she had reached out to him after filming ended.
They got back together while the show was airing and the two are now in love.
Echard and Evans constantly post videos together on social media that show the playful side of their relationship.
During the premiere of Season 19 of “The Bachelorette” earlier this month, multiple contestants made digs at Echard when they introduced themselves to Recchia and Windey. One suitor even arrived with a child choir that belted “Clayton sucks.”
After the episode aired, Evans uploaded a TikTok video of her and Echard jokingly singing along to “Clayton sucks” while wearing matching bathrobes and drinking wine — the definition of unbothered.
Jason Mesnick and Molly Malaney ('The Bachelor' Season 13)
Season 13 of "The Bachelor," which featured Jason Mesnick as the lead, might actually have been the "most dramatic season ever."
Throughout the season, Mesnick had strong relationships with both Melissa Rycroft and Molly Malaney. On the final day, he decided to break up with Malaney.
Mesnick was so distraught over their relationship ending that he wept over the side of a balcony before proposing to Rycroft.
Then, in truly one of the most shocking moments in Bachelor Nation history, Mesnick ended his engagement with Rycroft live during “After the Final Rose.” He surprised Rycroft and the millions of viewers at home watching by revealing that he wanted to pursue a relationship with Malaney.
His decision made him one of the most disliked Bachelors at the time, but it ultimately worked out. Mesnick and Malaney married on ABC in 2010 and welcomed a daughter, Riley, in 2013. The former Bachelor is also a father to 17-year-old son Ty from a previous marriage.
Last month, Mesnick posted pictures on Instagram of him and his wife enjoying a day on the golf course and spending time with their children.
Rycroft went on to compete and win “Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars” in 2012. She married Tye Strickland and has three children.
Arie Luyendyk and Lauren Burhnam ('The Bachelor' Season 22)
After appearing on Emily Maynard’s season of "The Bachelorete" in 2012, Arie Luyendyk Jr. returned to lead one of the messiest seasons of "The Bachelor" in 2018.
Luyendyk proposed to fan-favorite Becca Kufrin and broke up with Lauren Burnham at the end of his season. Just a few weeks later, he doubted his decision and said he had lingering feelings for Burnham.
While the season was still airing, Luyendyk ended his relationship with Kufrin during one of their secret visits. Camera captured Kufrin removing her engagement ring as he broke up with her.
At the “After the Final Rose,” Burnham gave Luyendyk a second chance. Kufrin was named the next Bachelorette.
In 2019, Burnham and Luyendyk tied the knot. They have a 3-year-old daughter named Alessia and 1-year-old twins, daughter Senna and son Lux.
On July 12, Luyendyk shared a picture from their home in Maui. In the snap, Burnham plays with her three children and blows bubbles. “It’s the simple things,” Luyendyk said in the caption.