The pair, who announced their engagement in June last year, opened up to Yahoo Lifestyle about what it’s like forming a connection on reality TV, the secret process behind choosing a finale outfit, and what happens immediately after the cameras stop rolling.
Falling in love on The Bachelor
“What people don't understand is you're in such a bubble that all you talk about is the Bachelor, and every interview and every conversation is about him,” Irena shares. “We didn't talk about anything else other than relationships, falling in love, and getting married.”
“And then on the other side for the guy, a normal Bachelor is 12 weeks, and over those 12 weeks you only see the winner maybe about five days,” Locky adds. “You get your first date, second date, hometowns, finale, and then maybe a single date or something. That’s only five times.
“So to build a connection that serious in a normal situation with 12 weeks is extremely hard. Without us having COVID and going home and speaking to each other on the phone, we probably wouldn't have been together. It was over the phone and talking to each other every day that we built the relationship. The only thing good to come out of COVID was we got more time together.”
Choosing a winner
“It's hard,” Locky admits. “I knew I was madly in love with Irena, so it wasn't like I was at the end like, ‘This is the hardest decision, I don't know if I'm gonna pick anyone’. I knew that I was definitely walking away with someone. But we had six months compared to six weeks, so I don't envy the new Bachelors.”
Ending things with the runner-up
“Because our season was drawn out over six months, I was dating two women for six months,” Locky says. “That’s a long time dating anyone, inside or outside of the show.
“You do build feelings and you're stuck in this bubble so the feelings are just amplified, so right at the end obviously it was extremely hard. I bloody cried, and I don't cry at all. Once it’s finished and you're outside of the show it’s a lot easier, but during the show, your feelings are so heightened and to break up with someone after six weeks or six months is extremely hard.”
Preparing for finale
“I don't know if they did the same for this season, but for our season I got ready at 4:30 in the morning and was by myself with my producer until 5:30 in the evening when I saw Locky,” Irena details. “So for 13 hours, I sat there in my dress, hair and makeup ready, waiting. To talk to someone else would have been the best thing because you’re sitting with your producer all day.”
Choosing a dress
“The picking of the dress for finale is actually a really nice process, but you've got no say,” Irena reveals. “So straight after you finish filming the last rose ceremony you go into separate wardrobes with Kim the stylist, she's incredible, and she literally pulls out suitcases of ball gowns and dresses and they’re all beautiful couture gowns.
“So for me, I got to try on I think five dresses and then out of those five she takes photos of them and sends it to the head producers, and then they're the ones that decide what I ended up wearing. So I didn't know what I was wearing until the morning of when they put me in the dress.
“Immediately I panicked when I saw mine. I was like, ‘It’s not white, the winner always has a light colour dress so it's not me’, because I did have a white dress as one of the options. But I thought, ‘Okay, I’m in an animal print, if Locky’s looking like he's dressed for a safari it’s going to be me’, and he was! His pocket square was a giveaway.”
Pressure to propose
“The producers aren’t like, ‘Hey are you gonna propose?’. They’re just like, ‘If you do want to propose, the option is there, you can if you want’,” Locky says. “For me, I’m very spontaneous, but I was in a messed up situation at the end. I was so caught up in the whole process and dating 25 women down to two over six months. And then I was like, ‘No I definitely think we want to spend a bit of time together’, and then we got engaged anyways.”
“We were both asked if we were to get proposed to at the end whether or not we would say yes or no,” Irena adds. “Of course, I said yes, because I was freaking madly in love with him then, let alone now! In saying that, I’m glad Locky didn’t propose because it was not the right time.”
Telling the winner you choose them
“This is what I think the boys (the 2023 Bachelors) didn't do very well because you’ve got to hit them with the ‘however’,” Locky laughs. “That’s what I did with Irena. I was like, ‘Blah blah blah, however’, and then that gives it the suspense.”
“I was hanging on to every word,” Irena chimes in. “And before I went into finale my dad said to me, ‘If Locky starts talking and he says “but” or “however”, take a deep breath and just calm yourself down. Don't go reacting, let him talk, and then say your goodbyes and walk away’. So as soon as I heard the ‘however’, in my head I started thinking, ‘Okay, how do I say goodbye to the man that I've fallen in love with?’. Then he just kept blabbering on about something and then he's like, ‘I love you’, and I actually didn't realise I said, ‘I love you’ back. I didn't realise until I watched it back that I said it, so I was just going with the motions.”
Locky continues: “I don't know if it was in shock, but Irena tends to make something up in her head and then that's the end, that’s the story. So I think before she walked out she was like, ‘It’s not me’. So it wasn't until we went home that night [that it sunk in]. The whole time she was very like, ‘Oh yeah cool’, just waiting for her story in her head to come true where I reject her, but it never came.”
What happens next
“So we did a photoshoot when we were standing there, and then we went into an interview, and then we went into a meeting about what happens next,” Irena recalls. “And then they took the ring off me and I'm like, 'Oh my god, they’ve taken the ring off me, what's happening?’. And then we got separated and we were separated for a couple of hours so I could get myself ready. And then they walked me to his room and he was waiting there with roses… I was triggered.
“We weren’t allowed our phones until the next day, and then I didn't actually call my parents until the following day.”
Time between filming finale and when it airs
“We are the only couple in Bachelor history not to have seen each other at all for that entire time,” Irena says. “So every other couple see each other every three weeks, they have rendezvous and secret getaways.”
“Because I was in WA, I couldn’t leave WA to come to Melbourne,” Locky adds. “And that was after three months of lockdown in the show, so it was a long process.”
“I flew out to film the show end of February and we didn’t see each other until the end of September,” Irena remarks. “We were both flown to Sydney for the finale and did the media circuit, and then stayed in Sydney for two months and then I moved to Perth.”
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