Nick Viall opens up to HELLO! about finding love with Montreal's Vanessa Grimaldi

By Erica Cupido

We watched him look for love on the small screen three times before being named “The Bachelor.” After all the romantic dates, exotic destinations and two heartbreaking final rose ceremonies (on Andi Dorfman’s and Kaitlyn Bristowe’s seasons of The Bachelorette), Nick Viall, 36, proposed to Montreal native Vanessa Grimaldi in snowy Finland. Next came months of dating in secret to prevent spoiling the season’s emotional finale.

Now that his time handing out roses is over, Nick tells Hello! Canada he’s looking forward to having his Canadian sweetheart, a special education teacher, by his side. “It feels good,” he says. Despite having to keep his proposal to Vanessa, 29, under wraps, he says, “I told my parents right away. They were very happy with my decision.” As for the couple’s future, Nick says, “We’re going to get settled in. She’ll be coming out to L.A. and we’ll be spending most of our time here.” While their love story unfolded on TV, news broke that Nick won’t be out of the spotlight for long. He’s competing on the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars – Vanessa is “more excited than I am!” he says. Here, the reality-TV star opens up about wedding plans, the future and how he found his happy ending with Vanessa.

Congratulations, Nick! What excites you most about no longer having to keep your engagement a secret? I think we’re just more excited about going grocery shopping than anything else! Just waking up and grabbing coffee, because we’re not worried about being seen. I think those are the little things in life that you learn to appreciate.

Are there any wedding plans in the works? Not right now. There’s no denying that our relationship – like other people’s in the world of The Bachelor – is not your typical kind of engagement. We’re very happy to be where we are but we’re also both realistic. While we made this commitment to each other, we also realize that we haven’t been able to have a normal relationship. I think we’re very much looking forward to that. It’s important for us to take it one day at a time, not to be cliché, but just to focus on our relationship. We don’t feel the need to start planning anything.

Nick says he can't wait to go grocery shopping with love Vanessa.

With Vanessa and Kaitlyn, you’ve dated two Canadian women during your stints on The Bachelor. What makes Canadian women so intriguing? Canadian people seem like they’re willing to have fun. They always seem to be attractive, fun, cultured and interesting.

There were some steamy scenes this season – especially between you and Corinne! Was there anything you felt you had to talk through with Vanessa before you watched the show together?I think you have to talk about everything. I don’t end up with Corinne, right? So I think [Vanessa] understood the role I was in. It doesn’t make everything easy to swallow at that time. I don’t think it’s anything your fiancée wants to watch. It can take its toll.

Several of the women on the show told you they loved you. When did you know that you were in love? I talked about feeling like I was starting to fall in love with more than one of the women, but it was important for me to get through it. I pushed down any type of feeling of love because I didn’t want to get myself into a Ben Higgins situation [Ben told both of the final two women on his season that he loved them]. At the same time, having been runner-up twice, I wanted to use all the time I could to make my decision. It wasn’t until I was done with the dates that I really was just like, “How do I feel?” I probably didn’t admit it to myself until the morning of the finale.

What did you learn about yourself throughout the process of being the Bachelor? I had done it three times, and I’m 36. I don’t know if I had this epiphany. I think it’s a very difficult process because whether it’s filming the show or having to deal with social media, it reminds you to not sweat the small stuff. [You have to] focus on the things that really matter.

Do you have any advice for Rachel Lindsay, who’ll be looking for love on The Bachelorette? I saw her at The Women Tell All and we got a chance to talk on-camera. We also had a very brief discussion off-camera. My only advice to her was to be herself. [Remember] that it’s going to be tough, and having feelings of self-doubt is normal. I think she’s going to be great.

We saw Vanessa take you aside at one point in the season and question your intentions on the show. Were you shocked by that? No. As the Bachelor, the most difficult part is every decision you make in almost every situation is going to make one person happy while disappointing the rest. I thought that conversation with Vanessa was a good one. I’m glad she handled herself the way she did. I’m glad she was very upfront and direct but still respectful. I understood where she was coming from. I think those are the moments that I actually appreciated.

Why is that? There’s no relationship that doesn’t have those moments. It’s great to talk about how much you love each other, but it’s also important to talk about things in a relationship like, “I think we’re great, but here is where we may struggle.” I wanted for us to have those authentic conversations and not be afraid to point those out.

Next, you’re joining Dancing With the Stars. How does Vanessa feel about that? I think she’s more excited than I am, which is great. She’s just excited to share the experience with me. I think it’s going to be fun. I’m very appreciative of her and her excitement.

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