TORONTO — Jillian Harris, the first-ever Canadian star of “The Bachelorette,” has given her heart to the sensitive technology consultant Ed Swiderski following a tear-filled finale to the reality dating series that featured a last-ditch plea from a previously dumped contender.
The bubbly brunette chose the dark-haired suitor from Chicago over the charming Kiptyn Locke from Encinitas, Calif., after a final compatibility test in Hawaii that involved introducing the two men to Harris’ parents, grandmother and cousin.
“There is no doubt in my mind that I am madly in love with you, I love you so much,”the 29-year-old Harris, a Vancouver-based restaurant designer, said before accepting a marriage proposal from Swiderski.
“I’ve never felt this positive about being with someone, ever,” Swiderski said before pulling out an engagement ring to Harris’ squeal of delight.
In choosing the 29-year-old Swiderski, Harris bid farewell to the 31-year-old Locke, a business developer that Harris had said charmed her from the moment he arrived on the show as the first of 30 bachelors to greet her on the first episode.
But perhaps the bigger shock was a surprise appearance from third-placed finisher Reid Rosenthal, a 30-year-old realtor from Philadelphia that was dumped in a previous episode.
Showing up after Harris broke up with Locke but before she was poised to accept a proposal from Swiderski, the confident Rosenthal strode towards the stunned bachelorette and told her he should have been more upfront with his feelings while on the show.
Extending an engagement ring towards Harris, a contrite Rosenthal declared his love and asked for a second shot.
“I was just an idiot,” Rosenthal said. “I came back to tell you that I love you and hopefully you feel the same way.”
Fighting tears, Harris told him she was in love with someone else and sent Rosenthal home a second time.
Swiderski himself very nearly missed out on a chance at love.
Earlier in the series, he quit the show saying he felt pressured to return to his job, only to return weeks later pleading for a second chance, saying he’d made a terrible mistake.
“The Bachelorette” began with 30 suitors from across the United States competing for the affections of the gregarious Harris, a third-placed finisher on the most recent edition of “The Bachelor”.
Her colourful contenders included an unabashed foot fetishist, a hot-tempered trucking contractor and a guitar-wielding country singer that other bachelors accused of having a secret girlfriend.
Choking back tears, an emotional Locke admitted to taking the rejection hard. “This hurts a lot,” Locke told Harris upon hearing her say she had fallen in love with another man. “I want you to be happy”.
“I never had my heart broken before but I’m definitely heartbroken,“ he added later in a camera address as a limo drove him away.
Harris and Swiderski were to discuss their future in a TV special entitled, “After The Final Rose,” airing Tuesday on Citytv.