- Cameras film “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” contestants around the clock, but that doesn’t mean viewers have a full understanding of the show.
- From mandatory STD testing for contestants to the “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” stars’ paychecks, the ABC show is brimming with behind-the-scenes secrets.
- While the franchise is technically reality television, and some of the couple remain happily married, much of the onscreen drama is purposely hatched by the producers.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
After 18 years on air, “The Bachelor” and its spin-off “The Bachelorette” are a tightly run ship. From the rose ceremonies to the “I love yous” are systematic in how the show comes together.
Thankfully, from tell-all books to interviews after the show, we know some of what goes in to filming these prime time juggernauts – and it’s fascinating to see how the reality show meat gets made.
From how much the contestants really drink to what goes on in the infamous Fantasy Suites, here are some of the biggest secrets from “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.”
You can watch “The Bachelor” on ABC at 8 p.m. on Mondays.
Megan Willett contributed to an earlier version of this story.
People quit their jobs to appear on the show.
Many contestants leave their jobs to compete on the show.
“Bachelor” season 20 contestant Olivia Caridi gave up her job, but said, “I did not give up my career. I am confident that I will get another job in broadcast news to continue my career in the television news industry.”
JJ Lane, a contestant on season 11 of “The Bachelorette,” told MarketWatch that he had difficulties finding a job after appearing on the show.
“I didn’t understand the magnitude of the show and how hard it is to get a real job right after,” Lane said. “Everyone knows who you are and employers see it as a distraction.” He added that former contestants may find a supplemental salary from appearances and product promotion.
“It’s not a way to make a living,” he said. “It is more of a supplemental way to get something out of being on the show.”
The application process is intense.
- ABC/Rick Rowell
Not only is the process to become a contestant on the show intense – lasting months and involving multiple contracts – but the hopefuls are also forced to take a variety of invasive tests by ABC, including an extensive background check, STD testing, and a psychological examination.
You’ll also be allowing ABC to release any information they learn about you through third parties, and say you’re exposing yourself to “the risk of death, serious injury, illness, or disease and/or property damage.”
Contestants get paid nothing to appear on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette.”
- ABC/Rick Rowell
Contestants on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” leave their jobs to come on the show in the hopes of finding love, fame, or some combination of both. They can also spend thousands on their wardrobe, but they make zero money for appearing on the show.
But the stars are typically paid over $100,000.
The stars of the franchise typically make around $100,000, according to famous “Bachelor” spoiler and blogger Reality Steve (aka Stephen Carbone). The highest-paid “Bachelorette” star was Emily Maynard, who was reportedly paid $250,000, while the lowest-paid star was reportedly “Bachelorette” Ashley Herbert, who Us Weekly wrote only made $30,000 (though Reality Steve disagreed and said Herbert made at least $100,000).
Then the real money comes after the show when stars and their winner can begin making appearances together on talk shows and reality shows. From “Dancing with the Stars” to “Marriage Bootcamp,” you can read how much more they get paid here.
The average age of contestants on “The Bachelor” is 26 while the average age of “Bachelorette” hopefuls is 29.
Alice Zhao in 2015 on her blog A Dash of Data figured out that the average age of female contestants on “The Bachelor” was historically 26, while the average age for the bachelor himself was 31.
Meanwhile, the average age of “The Bachelorette” star is 27 while her contestants are 29 years old. You can read Zhao’s full breakdown here.
The “Bachelor” mansion looks completely different when no one’s filming there.
If you thought “The Bachelor” mansion was an ABC real estate holding, think again.
The house – called “Villa De La Vina” – is actually owned by a 59-year-old named Marshall Haraden and his family, who move out of the home (along with their furniture and belongings) twice a year for ABC to come in and film.
The 7,500-square-foot mansion sits on 10 acres of land in Agoura Hills, California. ABC will shoot inside the home twice a year for 42 days, once for “The Bachelor,” and a second time for its spinoff “The Bachelorette.”
Producers sometimes plan the gimmicks when contestants are exiting the limos.
- ABC/Rick Rowell
One contestant named Ashley Palenkas pretended to be obsessed with “50 Shades of Grey,” but it turns out that was planned by the producers who had seen it on her nightstand, according to Crushable. (Palenkas, meanwhile, hadn’t finished the book.)
Not only that, but the order in which the contestants exit the limo can tell you a lot about how the producers think they’ll do.
“I remember one of the producers said to me [before filming ‘The Bachelorette‘], ‘You are going to be the first one out of the limo,'” Sean Lowe told Glamour. “I didn’t think much of it. But then he said, ‘Because you are first, everyone here thinks you are going to do well.’ They want to get the show started off on the right foot.”
Contestants have no real contact with the outside world while filming.
“There’s no TV or internet in the house – the whole thing is to be about the Bachelor and the show,” host Chris Harrison told Entertainment Weekly.
“We are not allowed to speak to friends or family until we get home. Phones and computers are taken away the day you get there,” season 14 “Bachelor” contestant Ashleigh Hunt told The Ashley’s Reality Roundup. “We [would] sit in the house or by the pool; it gets pretty boring.”
“You can not leave the house, ever,” she added.
They get gift bags when they arrive at the mansion.
Contestants have said that they received gift bags with sponsored items to use or wear when they arrive. Some of those items may include swimsuits, yoga mats, and more.
Some contestants spend thousands on a new wardrobe for the show.
The contestants are required to provide their own clothing – except for the two finalists during the finale – for the duration of their time on the show, which can span different cultures and climates.
Some people borrow clothing from friends to avoid spending a ton of money on a new wardrobe. But others do spend a ton of money in preparing.
Jillian Harris, the second runner-up from the 13th season of “The Bachelor” and star of the fifth season of “The Bachelorette,” wrote on her blog, “I had remortgaged my house and I spent something like $8,000 on clothing.”
The food on dates goes to waste because the contestants already ate.
One-on-one dates will often end in some sort of dinner or dessert component, which is laid out romantically with gorgeous candles, flowers, and ample alcohol. And yet, the contestants never seem to get to try any of it.
Turns out, the producers fill them up before the date even starts so they’ll do less chewing and more talking about how much they love each other.
“The food on dates is usually good, but the catch is that you aren’t supposed to eat it! No one wants to watch people stuffing their face on a date. If you’re eating, you aren’t talking,” Jaclyn Swartz, who has appeared on Ben Flajnik’s season of the “Bachelor,” along with “Bachelor Pad” and “Bachelor in Paradise,” told Refinery 29. “Instead, we eat before the dates, as we are getting ready. The producers will bring room service to your room, or a plate of food to where you’re getting ready in the house.”
They may not eat on dates, but the “Bachelor” mansion fridges are fully stocked.
“Oh my god, there’s so much food,” “Bachelor” season 20 contestant Katie Levans Loveluck told College Candy. “And alcohol. It’s weird, but the mansion becomes your home so it’s kind of like a really jacked up, well-stocked sorority house. The pantry, fridge, freezer, etc. were all overflowing with food to accommodate everyone’s dietary restrictions.”
“I gained weight through the process. There’s a lot of food and alcohol at your disposal, which is hard,” Robertson told Allure. “I usually tried to start drinking later in the night and watch myself. It can be stressful though. I remember overdoing it one night and waking up with an empty bag of Doritos in my bed.”
They drink — a lot.
Producers keep the alcohol flowing freely so that the contestants open up.
“It’s how they get you to be more talkative, more sensitive,” season 17 contestant Leslie Hughes told The Daily Beast. “When I came in for the producers’ weekend, I remember it was like 12 noon, and they were like, ‘You want some champagne, wine?’ And I was like, ‘It’s 12 p.m., noon!’ And they’re like, ‘Welcome to the Bachelor family.'”
“A lot of people drink. If you are smart you don’t drink that much! I was in the middle,” Ali Fedotowsky, a former “Bachelor” contestant and “Bachelorette,” revealed in an interview with A Drink With Chicago.
Essentially, you’re drinking unlimited beverages – wine, beer, champagne, shots, you name it – for free for as long as you’re on the show. You can read more about the contestants’ drinking habits here.
It can be hard for contestants to stay in shape since there’s no gym in the mansion.
- ABC/Rick Rowell
The famous “Bachelor” mansion doesn’t come with a gym, so according to some contestants they’d make do by running around the house or up hills. “Bachelor” 14 contestant Ashleigh Hunt said to The Ashley’s Reality Roundup: “One day I ran laps around the outside of the house.”
“There’s no workout room here, but there’s a hill in the back that girls would run up to exercise,” Molly Mesnick, “Bachelor” season 13’s runner-up and eventual winner, told The Ashley’s Reality Round Up.
While the “Bachelor” mansion may not have a gym, the hotels where the contestants stayed definitely did. Of course, these small hotel gyms can’t handle a huge group of women, so instead they got to work out in chunks.
“My workout time was cut in half,” Courtney Robertson, “Bachelor” season 16 winner, told Yahoo Health, “so I would push myself more in the 30 minutes of time I had. Sometimes I would get more if someone else didn’t schedule their ‘yard time.’ And I would try to squeeze in stretches and Pilates throughout the days.”
The cameras are filming 24/7.
The contestants on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” are filmed 24/7, even when they’re simply hanging around the house or sleeping. Everything they do and say can be edited by the ABC producers to make them appear any way they want.
The only moment you get without cameras? The Fantasy Suite date.
Filming for group dates and rose ceremonies can last well into the morning.
- ABC/Rick Rowell
While group dates can start as early as 9 a.m., they can last well into the night. And the rose ceremonies can be just as – if not more – exhausting.
“On TV, what you see is I hand out a rose, the girl comes forward and accepts it, and then I hand out another rose,” Sean Lowe, the “Bachelor” of season 17, told Glamour. “In reality, there’s about three to five minutes in between each rose because all 15 cameras have to reposition. That first night lasts until about 7 a.m., and then each one after that lasts until about 3 or 4 [a.m.].”
And the producers are on hand to help the stars when they forget someone’s name, which can happen more often than you think.
“Throughout the night a producer is never far from your side and constantly reminds you about everyone’s name. She (the producer) has flash cards with the pictures and names of every contestant,” former “Bachelorette” Ali Fedowski told E! Online. “It is hard to remember everyone, even with the flash cards. It’s all so overwhelming. How do you remember the names at the rose ceremony? Well, I doubt many people could remember at 25, so the Bachelor/ette goes into the rose ceremony room and says a few names at a time and then leaves to get the next few names.”
The overnight Fantasy Suite dates don’t happen back to back.
In “bachelorette” Andi Dorfman’s book “It’s Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak Into Happily Never After,” she said the Fantasy Suite dates are spread out over multiple weeks and hotel rooms so that the star gets a few days to decompress in between.
“What people likely don’t realize is that the Fantasy Suites are stretched out over a two-week timespan,” she wrote in a column for The Hollywood Reporter. “It does come in one quick episode, but this isn’t back-to-back like viewers see.”
In other words, the star of the show isn’t saying goodbye to one man or woman before welcoming another contestant into a suite later that night. The stars need time to take a breath and think about their relationships and what they want to happen.
Condoms aren’t provided in the Fantasy Suite dates.
“Bachelor” contestant and winner Courtney Robertson revealed in her book “I Didn’t Come Here To Make Friends” that while the Fantasy Suite room is packed with plenty of things, the one thing it doesn’t have is condoms.
“I didn’t realize how big of a deal that was when we wrote the book!” Robertson told Radar Online. “Everyone gets tested before the show and I was on the pill. Maybe we were a little bit too in the moment. If I had known I was the last one [to get a fantasy suite date], I would have definitely thought about it more.”
All the contestants and stars do get tested before filming – it’s a part of what it takes to get on the show – but it still seems safer to have condoms available. Especially because many contestants and stars do have sex.
Having your wedding on TV can net you another six figures.
- Jason Kempin/Getty Images
A couple can net an additional six-figure paycheck, according to E! Online, if they have their wedding on TV.
Past contestants who have gone this route include “Bachelorette” Desiree Hartsock and Chris Siegfried, “Bachelor Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici, “Bachelorette” Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum, “Bachelorette Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter, “Bachelor in Paradise” stars Jade Roper and Tanner Tolbert, all of whom are still together.
Another bonus? The show and network will help pay for your big day.
The “Bachelorette” stars have a higher rate of success than the “Bachelor” stars.
- ABC/Rick Rowell
Though “The Bachelor” has been airing for 21 seasons now, only one couple from the show are still together – season 17 star Sean Lowe and his now-wife Catherine Giudicci.
Technically, Jason Mesnick and his wife Molly Maloney met on “The Bachelor,” but she was not his winner. In a huge shock, Mesnick broke up with Melissa Rycroft, his season 13 winner, on air and asked out Maloney, his runner up. The pair now have two children together.
Meanwhile, out of 13 seasons of “The Bachelorette,” six of the couples are still together.
Couples must stay together for two years to keep the Neil Lane rings.
If contestants get engaged, but break up before two years of being together, they must give back the Neil Lane diamond ring, which can cost upwards of six figures.
When “Bachelorette” Jillian Harris broke up with her winner Swiderski, she was forced to give up her ring, according to Radar Online, which also reports that couples are prohibited from selling the ring until two years after the show and after that, must give ABC written notice if they do.
The “Bachelor” reportedly can’t offer the contestants his jacket, even if they’re freezing.
Although dates and rose ceremonies often occur outside in the cold, the producers reportedly tell the “Bachelor” not to give the contestants his jacket.
“The Bachelor nearly always offers his jacket to every shivering woman sitting in front of him, but [we] tell him not to, because it looks so damn silly,” a “Bachelor” producer told Entertainment Weekly reporter Kristen Baldwin.
To avoid footage of “a small woman draped in an enormous blazer,” the producer added that they keep pashminas available for the women.
In the season 23 premiere of “The Bachelor,” a producer stopped Colton Underwood when he began taking off his jacket for a contestant, who quickly said, “I love freezing.” And Peter Weber, the season 24 “Bachelor” didn’t remove his jacket despite one of the final three contestants, Madison Prewett, noting that “it’s frickin’ cold out here.”