NEW YORK — For the past few months, Desiree Hartsock and Chris Siegfried have kept their engagement secret as their season on ABC's "The Bachelorette" played out. So secret, they went by the code names Sonny and Cher.
To stay connected, they saw each other every other week for long weekends, would video chat and talk on the phone.
"Now we have our own names in our phones," Siegfried said in an interview Tuesday. "It's such a milestone. So many firsts!"
The fact that Hartsock picked Siegfried, a mortgage broker, came as a surprise to many viewers.
For much of the season, Hartsock said another contestant, Brooks Forrester, was the front-runner. Spoiler websites predicted that Forrester and Hartsock would end up together.
But with just Forrester, Siegfried and Drew Kenney remaining on the show, Forrester took himself out of the competition, saying he didn't feel the same way about Hartsock.
The finale on Monday night opened with Hartsock heartbroken about being blindsided, even telling host Chris Harrison that she wanted to go home.
She said those feelings were genuine.
"When I was saying I wanted to go home, that's what I wanted to do," the 27-year-old said. But it didn't take long for her to realize that Siegfried was the right guy for her.
"He was always perfect for me but it was almost so easy that it was like, 'Why is he so perfect for me?' You know what I mean? You almost want to dig for more just to see if it's gonna be harder, like if it's gonna be a chase, but (with Siegfried), I didn't want to ever say goodbye to him, and that's when I knew he's the one."
Both before the cameras and in person, Siegfried, also 27, doesn't seem troubled that Hartsock also had feelings for another guy so soon before they became engaged.
"I just stayed true to how I felt for her and how I felt about the process. ... I just did a really good job compartmentalizing everything."
The couple said they had to talk to members of his family and reassure them that they are happy together.
"It was maybe a little hard at first but they knew the outcome," Hartsock said.
"She's talked with my mom and she's talked with my family," added Siegfried.
Hartsock's last reality TV romance ended in heartbreak. The bridal stylist competed for the affection of Sean Lowe on "The Bachelor," but was sent home after a disastrous date.
She's moving from Los Angeles to Seattle to be with Siegfried, and although they want an "intimate" wedding when the time is right, they're not ruling out the idea of televising their nuptials like some former "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" couples have done.
"Next summer, we'll decide if that's something we see fit," said Siegfried.