These ‘Bachelor’ Secrets & Rules Prove What Happens Behind the Scenes Is So Much Juicier

"The Bachelorette" 2022
Photo: ABC/John Fleenor.

The Bachelor franchise has been around for almost two decades, and while Bachelor Nation may think they know everything about the show, there are so many Bachelor secrets and rules that prove what happens behind the scenes is so, so much juicier.

The Bachelor premiered in 2002 with lead Alex Michel, a 31-year-old businessman from Virginia. After the success of The Bachelor, ABC created a spinoff of the series, The Bachelorette, starring Alex’s runner-up Trista Rehn as the lead, in 2003. After that, the spinoffs kept on coming: In 2010, ABC premiered Bachelor Pad, a spinoff where eliminated contestants from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette could date each other. Bachelor Pad became Bachelor in Paradise in 2014, and in 2018, ABC took the seasonal fun of Bachelor in Paradise and spun it into Bachelor Winter Games, an Olympics-themed Bachelor show that paired together contestants from Bachelor shows across the world. In 2020, ABC created yet another Bachelor spinoff, Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart, where it was time for musicians to find love.

With so many seasons and spinoffs, it’s easy to assume that there’s nothing left to learn about The Bachelor. Little do we know that there is so much that happens behind that we don’t know about. From the secrets behind the Bachelor Mansion to how much contestants are *really* paid, here are the Bachelor secrets we’re obsessed with.

Producers Sometimes Make Contestants Wear the Same Thing

"The Bachelor" 2021: Matt James

Image: ABC/Craig Sjodin.

In a January 2021 interview with Us Weekly, Demi Burnett, from season 23 of The Bachelor, revealed that producers sometimes make contestants wear the same dress to create drama. “On my season, Heather [Martin] and this girl Laura, they had the same dress on,” she said. “The producers tell you which of the dresses they think you should wear. So they probably wanted to stir something up.” The interview occurred after two contestants on The Bachelor season 25 with Matt James wore the same red dress (pictured above.)

Contestants Quit Their Job to Be on the Show

The Bachelor and The Bachelorette film between six to nine weeks, and while that may not seem like a long time to fall in love, it’s a long time to take off work, which is many contestants leave their jobs to be on the show. Though many Bachelor and Bachelorette alums start careers as Instagram influencers, podcast hosts and authors after the show, there are many early-episode eliminees who don’t have the fanbase for those opportunities and are left without a job after they’re sent home.

“I didn’t understand the magnitude of the show and how hard it is to get a real job right after. Everyone knows who you are and employers see it as a distraction,” season 11 Bachelorette contestant JJ Lane told Market Watch 2017.

In a past Q&A on her website season 20 Bachelor contestant Olivia Caridi told fans that she was “confident” she would find another job after the show. She revealed that she quit her job in broadcast to be on the ABC reality show. “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,” she wrote.

Contestants Must Complete an STD Test, Psychological Examination and Background Check

In 2020, Bachelorette contestants had to test negative for routine COVID-19 tests before they were allowed on set. But the Bachelor franchise has been strict about protecting the health of their contestants for years. According to the Bachelor application, contestants must pass an extensive background check, an STD test and a psychological examination before they’re officially cast on the show. As fans know, the background check often doesn’t find everything about a contestant, as seen by contestants with controversial histories in the past.

In the application, contestants also sign off allowing ABC to release any information they learn about them through third parties. Reality TV is no joke.

The Bachelor: Brad Womack

Image: Karen Neal / © ABC / courtesy everett collection.

Contestants Aren’t Paid Anything

Though many Bachelor and Bachelorette alums make it rich after the show as Instagram influencers, they’re not paid anything while the cameras are on, which seems cruel considering that many contestants quit their jobs and spend thousands of dollars for outfits for the show. Contestants on Bachelor in Paradise, however, are paid a salary for their time on the spinoff show, given that many usually have a fanbase after their time on their first Bachelor series. According to Reality Steve, Bachelor in Paradise contestants are paid between $7,000 and $15,000 for each season, with each cast member receiving the same amount.

Leads Are Paid at Least $100,000

Though suitors don’t make anything on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, Reality Steve reported in 2011 that most leads make at least $100,00 to star as the Bachelor or Bachelorette of a season. Some leads also make way more if they have excellent negotiation skills, such as season 8 Bachelorette Emily Maynard who was paid $250,000 for her time on the show, according to In Touch. Though there were reports that season 7 Bachelorette Ashley Herbert was the lowest-paid lead ever at $30,000 for her season, Reality Steve countered those claims, confirming that Ashley made at least $100,000 for her time as the lead.

A Real Family Lives in the Bachelor Mansion

Surprise, surprise! A real family lives in the Bachelor Mansion when The Bachelor and The Bachelorette aren’t filming. The house, named “Villa De La Vina,” is owned by a man named Marshall Haraden and his family, who move out of the house twice a year for The Bachelor and The Bachelorette to film. (The family also move out their furniture and belongings.) As for details about the house, the Bachelor Mansion is located in Agoura Hills, California. The mansion’s size is 7,500 square feet, and it sits on 10 acres of land. Parts of the mansion are also available to rent for events, so host your next corporate conference or team-building workshop there (those are recommended events on the site.)

Producers Plan Limo Entries

Some limo moments are so wacky that it seems like no one in their right would humiliate themselves like that for a reality show. If you’ve ever thought that, you’re part right. Season 17 Bachelor contestant Ashley Palenkas revealed in a previous interview that the producers asked her to pretend to be obsessed with 50 Shades of Grey when she met Sean Lowe for the first time. In reality, the producers asked her this because they had seen the book on her hotel nightstand. Further, Ashley hadn’t even finished the book.

In an interview with Glamour in 2015, Sean also revealed that the limo order is planned by producers to highlight contestants they think will do will in the competition. “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,'” he said. “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 Get Gift Bags When They Arrive

Sure, contestants aren’t paid to star on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, but they aren’t left empty-handed when they’re sent home. Many contestants have revealed that they received sponsored gift bags when they arrived on the show’s set. The gift bags included items, such as swimsuits and yoga mats, for them to use while the show is filming.

Contestants Eat Before Dates

Most hardcore Bachelor Nation members know that the food on dates are for show and not for consumption. In an interview with Refinery29 in 2017, season 16 Bachelor contestant Jaclyn Swartz revealed that contestants are fed before their televised dates to avoid chewing on camera. “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,” she said. “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.”

The Bachelor Mansion Has Food Though

While the date food isn’t meant to be eaten, the fridges at the Bachelor Mansion are stocked with treats for contestants to munch on when the lead isn’t around. “Oh my God, there’s so much food,” season 20 Bachelor contestant Katie Levans Loveluck told College Candy in July 2013. “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.”‘

In an interview with Allure in 2014, season 16 Bachelor contestant Courtney Robertson revealed that she gained weight because of how much food was in the mansion. “I gained weight through the process. There’s a lot of food and alcohol at your disposal, which is hard,” she said. “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.”

Contestants Are Encouraged to Drink Alcohol

If you’ve seen Lifetime’s Unreal, you know that alcohol is a way for producers to get contestants to open up more on camera. The same is true for The Bachelor. “It’s how they get you to be more talkative, more sensitive,” season 17 Bachelor contestant Leslie Hughes told The Daily Beast in 2013. “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.'”

Season 6 Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky told A Drink With Chicago in 2013: “A lot of people drink. If you are smart you don’t drink that much! I was in the middle.”

Rose Ceremonies Go Until Morning & Are Way Longer Than What’s on TV

Rose ceremonies cap each Bachelor or Bachelorette episode, for contestants and the lead, they can be the bane of their experience. “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,” season 17 Bachelor Sean Lowe told Glamour in 2015. “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.].”

Season 6 Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky also revealed in a 2013 interview with E! News that producers create flashcards for leads to memorize contestants’ names on the first few nights. “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,” she said. “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 Bachelor: Brad Womack

Image: Karen Neal / © ABC / courtesy everett collection.

Fantasy Suites Are Over 2 Weeks

Though Fantasy Suites seem like they’re back to back on TV, season 10 Bachelorette Andi Dorfman revealed in her 2016 book, It’s Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak into Happily Never After, Fantasy Suites are spread out over several weeks so the lead has some time to decompress between each date.

“What people likely don’t realize is that the Fantasy Suites are stretched out over a two-week timespan,” Andi wrote in a 2016 column for The Hollywood Reporter. “It does come in one quick episode, but this isn’t back-to-back like viewers see.”

Couples Get Paid for TV Weddings

The Bachelor franchise is selective about which couples they choose for televised weddings and which ones they don’t. However, if you are chosen, you can make a lot of money to air your nuptials on TV. E! News reported in 2013 that season 17’s Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici were paid six-figures to air their wedding in a Bachelor special. Along with the paycheck, ABC also pays for the event as another incentive for couples to televise their weddings. Other Bachelor couples to have their wedding televised include Desiree Hartsock and Chris Siegfried, Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum, Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter and Jade Roper and Tanner Tolbert.

Couples Must Stay Together For 2 Years to Keep a Neil Lane Ring

Neil Lane rings are gifted to each final Bachelor and Bachelorette couple if they choose to get engaged in the finale. The rings aren’t cheap and cost upwards of six figures, which is why there’s a clause in each Bachelor couple’s contract that they must stay together for a consecutive two years to keep the ring. If they break up before that two-year mark, the ring is returned to Neil Lane. In 2010, Radar Online reported that season 5 Bachelorette Jillian Harris was forced to give her ring back after she broke up with her winner, Ed Swiderski. Radar Online also reported that couples are prohibited from selling their ring before the two-year mark, and must ask for ABC written permission if they decide to do so.

The Bachelor Can’t Offer Contestants His Jacket

You may notice Bachelor contestants shivering while the Bachelor keeps his suit jacket on, like Peter Weber and Madison Prewett in season 24 of The Bachelor. There’s a reason why. In 2020, a Bachelor producer told Entertainment Weekly that Bachelors are discouraged from giving contestants their jackets because of how the contestants look on camera.

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,” the producer said, adding that the contestants often look like a “a small woman draped in an enormous blazer.” For warmth, the producer said that the show often has pashminas available for women if they’re cold.

The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are available to stream on Hulu. Here’s how to watch it for free.

"Bachelor Nation" by Amy Kaufman

Image: Courtesy of Penguin Books.

Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman

To get more of an inside scoop, check out Los Angeles Times writer Amy Kaufman’s book, Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure, for a deep dive into the Bachelor franchise. The book uncovers the secrets of Bachelor Nation, from how much the Bachelor and the Bachelorette are paid to the rules contestants have to follow, that producers don’t want fans to know. It’s a must-read for any Bachelor Nation member.

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