'Bachelor in Paradise': The Engaged Couples Detail Their Lives After the Beach (Exclusive)
By Paige Gawley
Bachelor in Paradisehas produced three more happy couples! ET spoke with Serena and Joe, Mari and Kenny, and Maurissa and Riley, after their engagements played out on Tuesday's season finale, and they all revealed that they're still head over heels in love.
The journey wasn't easy for any of the couples -- and neither was keeping the secret of their engagement! -- but each duo is now excitedly looking ahead to the future. For some, that means moving to a different country, for others, the all-important family introductions, and for all, the work of wedding planning.
Keep reading to see what the future holds for Bachelor in Paradise's season 7 success stories.
The King and Queen of Paradise Prom were no strangers to drama during their journey to love. Their day-one connection was challenged when Joe's ex, Kendall, showed up to Paradise, but they persevered, and they became even stronger from then on out.
In a shocking twist, Kendall returned to the beach, just moments before Joe was set to pop the question to Serena, for one last conversation with her former love.
"I think we had closure prior to Kendall showing up," Joe told ET. "The timing, obviously, wasn't the best, but my main focus was the ring in my back pocket and Serena. It was bad timing, but it was a casual conversation."
After Kendall left, Serena came down to the beach and professed her love for Joe once more. When she finished her speech, Joe told her about Kendall's visit, leaving her shocked, but unbothered. It was indicative of the way she'd handled the situation all summer: cool, calm and collected.
"When it came down to it, I had an understanding that, obviously, Joe has dated people prior to me, and Kendall's one of those people. They had a serious relationship," Serena said. "I can have compassion for what she was probably going through in that situation."
"But my main focus was just focusing on Joe, focusing on our relationship," she continued. "He's an incredible communicator and I really trusted him throughout the entire journey. I just leaned on that and stayed focused on us."
That trust she placed in Joe led him to pop the question, a task he was "extremely nervous" for.
"[It was] very romantic, very intense," Joe said of his proposal. "I was extremely, extremely nervous. Probably the most nervous I've been since 2018, when I was on Becca [Kufrin]'s season of The Bachelorette. Night one limo, that's probably how nervous I was."
"Same for me," Serena agreed, before amending, "There was a little bit more shock value on my end, because I didn't have a ring in my back pocket. I didn't know what was about to happen. But [it was] very special, very romantic. I just felt totally elated the entire day."
Following their engagement, the pair introduced each other to their families. Though Serena joked in the finale that her family was going to kill both her and Joe for the quick engagement, she told ET that they've all been "supportive."
"I think it was definitely a shock for my family. I think they might still be a little shocked about the entire thing," she admitted. "It's definitely unconventional to say, 'Hey, I'm engaged to someone you've never met before. And he's 35 and lives in Chicago.' I mean, there's a lot to take in there. But to be able to watch the journey back... I think they can really see how happy I am and how in love we are."
Joe, meanwhile, noted that his family is "on board" and "all in on Serena."
Now that the secret of their engagement is out to more than just their family members, Joe and Serena are excited to experience real-life things with each other.
"It's been so hard!" Serena said of keeping the secret. "We're newly engaged. We want to celebrate. We want to go out. We want to tell everyone, and you just can't."
Joe agreed that the whole thing was "frustrating," telling ET, "We're looking just to go to dinner, go to a restaurant."
After they enjoy meals out together, the couple is planning to move in with each other, though they wouldn't share if Serena would be making the move to Canada, or if Joe would be moving up north from Chicago.
"We've talked about it and we have a few plans in the works," Joe teased. "We plan on moving in together in the spring. Right now, we're going back and forth from Chicago and Toronto, and we'll see what happens, but we're both on the same page, which is nice."
"It was an extensive conversation that we had multiple times," Serena added of the move discussion. "We live in completely different countries, so there were a lot of plans that had to be made, but we're definitely on the same page of kind of what we want."
The move is about as far as they've gotten in planning for the future, with wedding planning on hold until they're under one roof.
"We're going to start with the move," Joe explained. "We're going to take things slow and it's definitely in our future, but right now let's focus on what we're going to order for dinner tonight."
"We're just excited to date, and travel, and live our lives," Serena agreed. "Marriage, house, kids, that's something we both want, and that is going to come, just in the future."
Mari and Kenny overcame a midseason breakup to make it all the way to an engagement, and the marketing director told ET that she was "a bit nervous" and "really excited" to see their relationship reach that point.
"It really comes down to finding someone that was ready, and finding someone that's kind of on the same life stage," Mari said of why she fell for the boy band manager. "I feel like I'm kind of on a different level than most people my age, so finding someone where everything fits well and works well with what we want and what we're doing in life, that's what I was looking for. And that's what I found."
Kenny felt similarly, noting that he was "totally ready" to pop the question to his girl.
"I just keep saying there's something about Mari. I can't put my finger on it, but it's really as simple as, outside of her beauty, it's really, for me, the way she carries herself," he gushed. "I hate to be cliché, but it does complete me as far as just fitting together."
After they made it official, Mari was quick to call her mom, so that she wouldn't hear the news online.
"I actually wanted to keep it a secret, but my mom reads all the spoiler stuff and follows all the accounts. So I knew I would have to tell her or she could find out online," Mari explained. "So I did tell everyone, and our families have met. Everybody was together last night to watch the finale for the first time, so that was really cool."
While they've been in engaged bliss for months now, no one outside of their families has known, and they've been forced to spend all their time together inside, away from prying eyes.
It's been three months that we've had to keep a secret. We have met up a couple of times throughout that time," Mari said. "It's been hard because we can't go out and be a normal couple... Now that we actually are out in public, we can finally do that. I'm really excited to just do normal couple things, go for a walk, go out to dinner."
Mari made a couple of visits to Chicago, Kenny's city, when they were keeping things quiet, but he's looking forward to showing her around his town, where she's agreed to move in the coming months.
"We haven't been able to sort of explore the city," he said. "I want her to see some of the cool stuff [and] actually walk around and enjoy downtown Chicago."
As for wedding plans, the couple has already made one important decision about their big day.
"I, of course, have my Pinterest board and all of my ideas, but the one thing we have decided is that we agreed to get married in Puerto Rico where I'm from," Mari said. "So that's super exciting, but we don't have all of the details fleshed out just yet."
Other than that though, the wedding plans will be on hold until after Mari moves to Chicago.
"We're really just taking it one step at a time," Kenny told ET. "Move to Chicago, live together... and then from there, we'll probably start planning the other stuff."
Riley didn't have to think long about popping the question to Maurissa, no matter how it appeared on TV. The couple was strong from the start of their relationship, but when the final days came, Riley, more than once, made her think he was going to end things.
Riley joked to ET that he psyched Maurissa out the first time "in good fun" to "make sure she doesn't think it's easy." Later, though, he gave some real thought to if he'd be ready to pop the question.
"After the Fantasy Suites, it was like, 'OK, you're actually going to propose. This is going to be an engagement'," he said. "... This is everything that I've ever wanted, to have a fiancée, and start a family, and whatnot, so of course I wanted to take my time and think it through, but once I sat down, it really didn't take that long. It was a no-brainer and I couldn't wait to get out to the podium and propose to my lady."
That lady of his was "a wreck" going into the proposal, largely because Riley had told her about his plans to think things through. In fact, Maurissa told ET, she had accepted that he may not pop the question.
"Walking down in that moment, I saw him. I was like, 'Dang,' and then, all the worries and butterflies and everything went away," she said. "In that moment, I just realized that, no matter what, this is my guy, I'm leaving with him, whether we get engaged, whether we don't. And then when he got down on that one knee, I was just shook."
As soon as Maurissa got her phone back following the proposal, she called her mom to break the happy news.
"She was so excited," Maurissa recalled of her mom. "She was just like, 'I knew it! Is it Riley?'"
As for Riley, he spilled the beans to his mom and grandma early, but the rest of his family found out as the episode aired.
"I got this call last night after the proposal, when everybody gets together, they're like, 'Oh my god!'" Riley said. "So they reacted very well. We're going to go see them soon. Everybody cannot wait to meet Marissa."
Now that the word is out, Riley and Maurissa are excited to show off their love publicly.
"Being cooped up in the house the whole time and nobody can you see her, I'm not about that. I want to show her off," Riley said. "It's good that we're finally free now, we're engaged and everybody knows it."
When it comes to their future, Maurissa is planning to move from Atlanta to New York to be with her man. Wedding plans, she said, will come in due time.
"We've gotta figure some things out before, of course," she explained. Meeting the family other than FaceTime, that's the first thing. And then me getting to New York."
Once she gets to New York and their life together officially begins, Riley is looking forward to living out his long-held Sunday morning dream, which he shared with Maurissa on Tuesday night's finale.
"Sunday morning, for me, it's just a time of peace," Riley said. "... I always had this vision of just being able to have my family and just be able to relax on a Sunday morning, cook some breakfast, some bacon and eggs. You've got your children there. It's just a great feeling. It's no stress."
"Now we have an opportunity to build our own family," he added, "and we can enjoy it every single time."
Maurissa agreed, telling ET that she wants "a whole basketball team" of kids.
"I'm just really looking forward to being able to create our own life," she said, "our own family start, our own traditions."