"In other news I still love Cassie."
You know what, Colton Underwood? We needed that. After sitting through that car wreck of a two-part Bachelor finale where actually no one seemed to emerge with all that happy of an ending save for Madison Prewett's newfound friendship with Selena Gomez, it was nice to remember that somehow, against all odds, reason and logic this process sometimes just kinda works.
Even when it doesn't end in the expected down on one knee with a Neil Lane diamond type of way.
Because before Peter Weber asked him to hold his beer, Underwood may have just held the crown for the most dramatic Bachelor finale ever.
And TBH, the pay-off after a season of promoting "the fence jump" was far sweeter than learning just who Barb Weber was talking about when she proclaimed, "Don't let her go. Bring her home. Bring her home to us." The former saw the onetime NFL tight end, 28, deftly scale a fence to run off into the empty streets of Algarve, Portugal, intent on ditching cameras, producers and his whole romantic journey after the process led speech pathology graduate student Cassie Randolph to walk away.
Unlike his successor, Underwood was 100 percent sure about his final choice, certain enough to go fully rogue, saying goodbye to Hannah Godwin and Tayshia Adams early to let Randolph know she was his one and only. And she needn't say yes to a ring, a fantasy suite or really anything outside of a commitment to see how their relationship could survive back home in the real world.
A year on, despite everyone's worst predictions, the pair are clearly thriving, sharing, if not an apartment, at least the same zip code, and endless declarations of affection, Randolph having long gotten over the L-word hurdle.
"happy love day, my love," the 24-year-old wrote in a Valentine's Day Instagram. "I love you! And I love love."
And they loooove their story, both the crazy parts that unfolded with millions watching and judging and the bits they've been able to enjoy with only their nearly four million combined Instagram followers peeping in. As Randolph put it, commenting on one of the athlete's posts, "I'm so grateful for our strange circumstances and how they led us to each other."
After filming wrapped in November 2018, they cemented their forever enough in those initial months off-camera that by the time their romance went public, Underwood was confidently declaring Randolph his "future wife".
And having been slammed for being unable to profess her undying love after a whirlwind few weeks of courting, she was ready to shout it from the rooftops by the time their finale aired last March. Or at least her Instagram page, which is basically the 21st century version.
"The last 4 months, just focusing on 'us' have been amazing and you have become my best friend," she wrote. "You have shown me the purest, strongest love that any girl could ask for. You jumped a fence, took a risk, and challenged the 'rules' to fight for us. I can't even begin to describe how lucky I feel to have you by my side. I am so excited to see what is next for us in this new phase of our 'journey.'"
Despite Bachelor producers' best hopes and prods, that wouldn't be the square-cut double-halo Neil Lane diamond Jimmy Kimmel gave to Underwood in the hopes of sparking a proposal. The pair preferred to take the less exciting, but imminently more sensible step of just moving to the same city, the native of Huntington Beach, Calif. making the roughly 45-mile move north to join former Denver resident Underwood in L.A.
Their plan was to move in together eventually, likely right around the time she'd be sporting a new piece of flashy jewelry. "She doesn't have a ring on her finger yet," Underwood told People at the time. "But she will, one day."
Away from the pressures to stick to the prescribed Bachelor timeline, they've been able to let their union evolve naturally, more in line with how it would have had they crossed paths at, say, a bar rather than the hosed down driveway of the Bachelor mansion. Their thinking is that they're already enjoying their happily ever after so they feel no need to check off some relationship milestone to make their fans feel better.
"We've found that when we put too much focus on the future, we miss out on the present and enjoying the moment," Randolph posted on social media in September, explaining that the absence of a ring didn't mean they were breaking up, rather just taking things at a less whirlwind-like pace. "We both are learning so much in this and more than anything, we are both right where we want to be…happy…thankful…learning…growing!"
It's not that they don't get people's curiosity, the former Illinois State standout noted to E! News at the ESPYs last summer: "I understand because the Bachelor franchise and the Bachelorette franchise are known for their engagements, their weddings, their over-the-top relationships, but for us, we sort of wanted to do things our way."
Right now that means enjoying anniversary getaways to St. Lucia, birthday celebrations that feature Underwood literally wearing his heart on his sleeve (and chest) and lots and lots of making out because despite a little Bachelor in Paradise snarking, he's good at kissing, thank you very much.
As for cohabitation and grand down-on-bended-knee gestures, those will come in time. "We're just excited to spend time together and we don't have any concrete plans with anything yet," she explained at the 2019 E! People's Choice Awards. "We talk about [moving in together]. There's just no date yet,"
Agreed Underwood, "We're still really building a foundation in our relationship. We get to spend the rest of our lives with each other hopefully so there's no need to rush anything."