"The show would be perfect for @ariejr up until it comes to choosing just one."
Who could forget the shade ex-girlfriend Sydney Stempfley tossed Arie Luyendyk Jr.'s way when he was named as ABC's choice to dole out the roses on the 22nd season of The Bachelor. And for one moment some two years ago, that was presumably deliciously satisfying for her, it kind of seemed like she was right. His feet cooling off mere months after he told perky publicist Becca Kufrin he wanted to "choose you every day from here on out," he ended their brief engagement in an agonizingly long breakup captured by cameras and aired in it's secondhand shame-inducing entirety.
As his now-prescient seeming ex had predicted, choosing just one final suitor at the end of the eight-week process was, indeed, quite difficult for the race car driver and after agonizing over his choice since the end of filming, he felt quite sure that he'd made a mistake in letting reserved saleswoman Lauren Burnham go.
Sensing the inevitable backlash from his flip-flop, a move known in Bachelor parlance as "pulling a Mesnick," in honor of Jason Mesnick's After the Final Rose switch from Melissa Rycroft to now-wife Molly Mesnick, he went through all the right motions to show that, no, guys, this time I'm sure. Flying to see Burnham at her parents' Virginia home, he begged for forgiveness and made nice with her family.
And minutes after his brutal dumping of Kufrin aired on the finale special—as he was still being crucified on Twitter by the likes of Sean Lowe and other franchise alum—he knelt before his new final choice with a fresh Neil Lane diamond telling her, "I have made some bad decisions, but the best decision was running back to you. I can't imagine a life without you. You have shown me a love that is patient, a love that is kind, and I truly believe you are my soul mate."
Not that any of that was enough for the cynics who began placing bets on the duo's longevity. Sure, let's see how long this one lasts. (For the record Kelly Ripa set the over/under at 100 days.)
Who put their money on forever? Because today, some two years into their reconciliation, the Arizona-based real estate agents are celebrating their first wedding anniversary alongside their nearly eight-month-old daughter Alessi Ren Luyendyk. Having conquered mom shaming (how dare she go out to lunch when her baby exists in the world with a dad and grandma to care for her?), the struggles of breast feeding and one cringe-inducing case of pink eye, the couple are even talking baby number two.
"It's definitely a difficult time to even think about having another baby, but we love her so much that we absolutely want to have another sibling for her soon," the 28-year-old told Us Weekly. "Well, not soon, but we're thinking maybe like when she's 2. We kind of want them spread out a little bit."
For the record, this is the dramatic ending they had always envisioned.
Yes, the 38-year-old screwed up he readily admitted to anyone that would listen, but didn't he get points for trying to right his wrong? His biggest crime was making a decision at all, when it can feel next to impossible to commit to a lifetime after just a handful of outings that in no way represent what real life would be like.
The day after his final date with Kufrin, who unlike the more camera-shy Burnham "was so herself, on and off camera," he described to GQ in 2018, "Production woke me up at seven in the morning, and they were like, 'Okay, who is it?'"
He was conflicted, but the Bachelor production schedule waits for no indecisive man and so when it came time to slide that 3-carat sparkler on one woman's hand he chose Kufrin.
"I felt like I was trying to be logical," he explained. "I tried to think like, 'Okay, I know who Becca is, and she's a great person. In the moment, I felt like I was making the right choice."
As for the wandering eye a few former paramours had accused him of having, that simply wasn't the case. Sure he'd had some fun in the years since he got his heart broken by 2012's Bachelorette Emily Maynard—in her 2014 memoir Courtney Robertson said he'd been dating another woman throughout the whole of their fling—but as he posed it to GQ, "What 36-year-old man hasn't dated around if they're single?"
His romance with Burnham was different, though. He was different when he was with her. Even his Indianapolis 500-winning dad Arie Luyendyk Sr. marveled about seeing his son in love like this. "It's like there's one person, almost, between the two of them," he told the mag. "They're so connected."
It was an enigmatic quality Luyendyk Jr. had sensed early on in his conversations with the Texas-based beauty. "I just kind of fell in love with her before I really knew who she was," he explained. "I know that sounds kind of crazy, but I think there is that type of love out there where you just are blown away from the moment you meet somebody. That's kind of how it was with her."
As the weeks wore on and they hopped from the Bachelor mansion to Lake Tahoe to Paris to Tuscany, he fell harder for her sweet personality, her connection to her family and the fact that they shared the same goofy sense of humor.
So even though he picked Kufrin, he liked Kufrin, he couldn't shake the reminders of what he'd given up. So with his fiancée's permission, he reached out to his runner up, sliding into her DMs on New Year's Eve and setting up a time to chat the next day. "As soon as I heard her voice," he recalled, "I knew that I had to end things with Becca."
In the made-for-TV recap it seemed like Burnham was immediately forgiving, taking back the man who dumped her without reservations and she admits she was excited to see him. Still, she clarified to The Hollywood Reporter a day after their After the Final Rose appearance, "Obviously I had my reservations and I needed an explanation behind it and reassurance of that, but I think we've gotten through that and are in a really good place."
Luyendyk Jr., she told GQ, promised to "spend the rest of his life making it up to me." And that started with the long-awaited on-camera proposal. "She's always giving me slack that it's obviously long overdue," he explained to THR, "and so I wanted it to be perfect."
Really, his goal was to make their entire life picture perfect, starting with their road trip from her parents' place in Virginia to his Arizona condo. After a seemingly endless vacation that saw them traipsing around Iceland, Spain, Australia and Hong Kong, capturing each moment for posterity and Instagram likes, and viewing some 70 potential homes, they put an offer down on a $870,000 four-bedroom Scottsdale home with high, vaulted ceilings and the walk-in closet of Burnham's dreams. "As soon as we walked in," Luyendyk Jr. declared, "we knew this was our home."
The farmhouse style spread was the kind of place they could grow into, they hinted to Us Weekly, weeks before revealing they were already well on their way.
"I kind of had a feeling that I might be pregnant," Burnham told the mag of learning she was expecting in the fall of 2018. "So my friend insisted on bringing a pregnancy test over." Giving her man the honor of reading the results, "Arie came out with the test in his hand and tears in his eyes. He was like, 'You're pregnant!'"
Just to be really sure, they rushed to the store for extra insurance tests, each of the six they chose returning with the same result. "We weren't trying," he admitted, "but we are so excited. It's going to be a whole new chapter in our lives."
Much like their relationship, the initial passages were rough, with morning sickness leaving Burnham confined to their home for much of October. "But over the last week I've started feeling a lot better," she noted as she entered her second trimester, "so it's nice to have my energy back."
She needed it as she and Luyendyk enjoyed a joint bachelor-bachelorette weekend in Las Vegas with their pals put the finishing touches on their 100-person January 2019 vows at Hawaii's historic Haiku Mill, a venue resplendent in greenery and charming architectural details. "Everything that I imagined, it was that and 10 times better," Burnham told Us Weekly of the nuptials, officiated by Bachelor host Chris Harrison.
Their next task involved preparing for their little girl. And in true Bachelor fashion, the early months of pregnancy provided their share of twists. "We actually did the early gender test online, so we took our test at 10 weeks," Burnham revealed to Us Weekly. "We got the results back from that, and it was that we were having a boy."
Information in hand, they taped a gender reveal with the show's producers and dreamt up the perfect name for a boy. Then came an ultrasound at 15 weeks where the tech informed them that, actually, they were 98 percent sure it was a girl. The news, while confusing, was happy for Burnham, who admitted she was "really nervous to be a boy mom because I just don't know that I can relate as well, being a woman relating to a little boy."
But Team Bachelor was less stoked. "The phone call back to the producers was hilarious because they're like, 'Arie, you're always making things difficult!'" he shared. "We all had a big laugh about it."
Because while their journey was certainly one of the most dramatic ever, they've fully embraced their origin story. "The fact is, I'm really happy with Lauren," he summed up in his profile with GQ. "So for me, it was all worth it."
And now little Alessi has tied their joy up into a neat, adorable little bow. Asked to give his advice to other new dads, Luyendyk, then just two months into the fatherhood game, detailed the importance of being patient, understanding and present as much as humanly possible. "It will be hard," he admitted in his Instagram story, "it will challenge your relationship. It will also be the best thing you'll have ever done together."
(Originally published Nov. 14, 2018, at 6 a.m. PT)