Season 8 of "The Bachelorette" ended with a proposal, and Emily Maynard said "yes" to Jef Holm, but not before she shocked viewers by sending Arie Luyendyk Jr. home a day before their final date.
Before the proposal, Maynard confessed to cameras that even though she loved Holm, she wasn't sure she wanted to get engaged. Holm had his own doubts, telling cameras that Maynard hadn't told him she loved him.
"I found my everything and I'm so in love with you and I promise you, Emily, that if you let me into your life and Ricki's life, you will never feel lonely again," Holm said at the final rose ceremony against the backdrop of the Caribbean island of Curacao.
He then got down on one knee and presented her with a stunning diamond
engagement ring, before popping the question.
Maynard paused for a few moments before accepting the proposal, leaving Holm holding his breath in anticipation.
“It was kind of a surprise,” Maynard said today on “Good Morning America." “Really, I just wanted to soak in the moment and really make a decision from my heart. Just take in the moment and remember it.”
It's been a tough road to love for Maynard, 26.
She had accepted a marriage proposal from Brad Womack during the 15th season of "The Bachelor," but that relationship didn't work out.
Prior to that, she had been engaged to NASCAR driver and team owner Ricky Hendrick, but he died in a plane crash in 2004. Maynard is a full-time mother to their daughter, Ricki, 7. She also does volunteer work.
The Charlotte, N.C., resident started out with a group of 25 eligible bachelors all vying for her affection. She whittled the field down to the final two -- Holm and Luyendyk Jr.
Maynard said she felt as though Holm truly understood her. She got chills
the night he told her he loved her, and felt open to moving to Utah to be with
him. She felt a powerful attraction to Luyendyk, and struggled with her love
for both men.
Holm, 28, a social entrepreneur and skateboarder, made a favorable impression on Maynard's parents, brother and future sister-in-law when he met the family on the island.
But Luyendyk, a 30-year-old race car driver who hails from Scottsale, Ariz., also impressed Maynard's family members when he met them.
Both men met privately and separately with Maynard's brother and father, and professed their love for Maynard and their commitment to being there for her and for Ricki.
They each also asked her father for his blessing to ask for her hand in marriage, and he consented.
Maynard told her family that she was reluctant to introduce the men to her daughter in case the relationship didn't work out, but admitted that she was in love with both bachelors.
When Holm mentioned meeting Ricki, Maynard explained why she had held back on introducing her daughter to them.
"Last time I got engaged and I had a really guilty conscience ... about introducing her to Brad and it not working out," she said.
But she decided that it was important for Holm to meet her daughter. She told the cameras that if the meeting didn't go well, it would be the end of her relationship with Holm because she and her daughter were "a package deal."
Holm and Ricki chatted and played in the pool, and he said he was happy for the meeting. Holm's ease with the little girl impressed her mother.
"There's no question in my mind that Jef would be the best dad and the best husband," Maynard said.
Holm was the only participant introduced to Maynard's daughter.
After introducing her daughter to Holm, Maynard acknowledged to "Bachelorette" host Chris Harrison that her feelings for Holm were stronger than those for Luyendyk, and tearfully said she planned to tell Luyendyk how she felt later that day.
Luyendyk had no idea what was about to happen. Just before Maynard met him to deliver the bad news, he was discussing his planned proposal to her and had just made her a love potion.
When she told him she couldn't be with him, he was visibly stunned.
"I'm shocked," he said.
"I have more confidence in Jef," Maynard told him tearfully, adding: "I don't know what to say."
"Don't say anything; I'll go," Luyendyk said, getting up from the bench they shared and walking away.
But Maynard asked him to wait, and walked him to the SUV that would take him away.
"Good luck. ... Thanks for sparing me the embarrassment of tomorrow. I
appreciate that," he said.
Emily Maynard, Jef Holm to Start Their Future Together
The engaged couple will begin to build their life together as a family in Charlotte, N.C., Maynard and Ricki’s home base, Holm explained on “GMA.”
“I’m going to get a separate place there and we’re just going to combine our lives. I’ve going to hang out with Ricki all the time and become a carpool dad," Holm said. "We're just going to live our lives together and get accustomed with each other and then plan a wedding. And when we get married, move in together and figure out where we want to be as a family.”
Maynard, a self-described girly girl when it comes to wedding plans, said she has started looking at dresses and venues online and has been "buying every wedding magazine
in the grocery store," but that they are “taking it day by day.”
Though her previous “Bachelor”
relationship with Womack fell apart, Maynard is confident that she’s finally
found her happily ever after with Holm.
“Our [relationship] is going to work because we really have become immediate best friends. I feel so comfortable around him and it’s different than any relationship I’ve ever been in,” she said on “GMA,” “Hopefully the outcome will be different too.”