For the first time in TV History, the “journey to find love” was had by two leading ladies: Rachel Recchia and Gabby Windey.
And you know what that means. Double the Bachelorettes, double the drama.
It was a season filled with excitement and love, betrayal, and a whole lot of tears.
But the real story here is much greater than Tino’s shocking cheating confessions and Gabby and Erich’s fairytale ending.
The real narrative is one of female friendship, empowerment, and unconditional love—it’s a beautiful love story shared between our two protagonists.
And with every moment of adversity, and every twist and turn, this relationship never faltered.
We sat down with the women for a behind-the-scenes look into their quest to find love—in ways they may have least expected.
Some may argue that the main love story is the one had between you two. What was it like having someone else navigating this journey with you?
RR: It truly is the love story, at least for me. I obviously came out on the other end not exactly where I thought I was going to be, but I will have her for the rest of my life. I’ve learned so much from Gabby. She’s helped me grow as a person, and to watch her love story unfold has truly been a blessing. I could have never gone through any of this without her. I’ll say it till the day I die!
GW: This experience came with a lot of challenges and struggles we didn’t know how to prepare for, but I wouldn’t change a single thing. If I had to do this all over again, I would choose to have Rachel by my side. What we have on the other side is so invaluable and the best kind of relationship that I want. I would never want to do this alone!
As the first Co-Bachelorettes in TV history, what message were you trying to send to the audience? How is this a story about female empowerment and friendship?
RR: We came into this whole experience with a lot of people doubting us and saying that we would fight or be pitted against each other. Gabby and I have proven through an entire season that we constantly put each other first. We had such good open communication and we went through struggles at the same time. Gabby would deal with a struggle and I would deal with it the next day, and we just never wavered from our friendship. So, to answer your question, I think that sends a huge message about the power of female friendship. It’s so important to have those relationships in your life, sometimes over being with a guy, because well, look where I am now.
GW: Rachel and I really took it upon ourselves to do everything we could even when all odds were working against us to put our relationship first, and it really does show. The show could have been a complete shit show.
RR: It still kind of was, in a way!
GW: It could have been way worse between us, and at the end of the day, no guy is ever worth it.
Did the producers try to pit you two against each other?
RR: No, but the boys definitely tested us.
GW: If you weren’t on your toes, it could have happened way easier, but we always made a point to check in with each other to make sure we were on the same page.
You both were contestants on Clayton’s season and became the Bachelorettes to reclaim your narratives. Can you talk a bit about your experiences as a contestant versus being the Bachelorette?
GW: Being on the opposite side of things is definitely different. I learned so much from being on Clayton’s season about myself and what I’m looking for and not looking for in relationships. So when I came into this role as the Bachelorette, there was a lot of what to do’s and what not to do’s.
RR: I agree with Gabby that it’s a very different experience. On one side of things, you are only focused on one person, so your priority is to progress that relationship as far as you can. And on our side, we were forced to make really difficult decisions very fast and had to trust ourselves and each other to get through it. Ultimately, we really did accomplish what we set out to do coming into this. We took something that had never happened before and did the absolute best we could with it. I really don’t know what more we could have done with what we were given.
Can you talk a bit more about that decision-making process? How much did you listen to your head versus your heart or gut?
RR: I’ll let Gabby take this one because clearly, I’m not good at making decisions! It is important to trust your heart. Sometimes it leads you in the wrong direction in my case, but Gabby did such an incredible job. She was always so eloquent and kind.
GW: I think it’s important to make decisions early on and always be acutely aware of the logical things. In relationships, we obviously think a lot with our hearts, but sometimes you need to think with your head. Do you have a career path? Are we living in the same state? You have to make sure you’re on the same page about those things before thinking about the connection. I want a relationship with somebody that has longevity. You have to weigh out all of those things and be willing to make the decision early on to set yourself up for success later.
If you were to go back in time, what would you do differently?
RR: We really both like to say nothing because it is so true. Every mistake I made, and I made so many, I was able to learn and grow from. Really looking back, I would oftentimes get way too emotional and a wall would go up. I do wish I was able to center myself more, but that’s human. I was acting exactly the way I was feeling at the moment. So it’s hard to look back and want to change things because that’s just how I felt at the time.
What were the biggest lessons you learned as the Bachelorettes?
GW: I think the biggest lesson is trusting yourself and trusting your gut. With every action you make, it’s what you were feeling in the moment and that’s ok. We are people, we’re messy, and we’re allowed to make mistakes! I know there are a lot of eyes on us and criticism, but it is called Reality TV for a reason. We’re just normal people doing the best we can.
What’s next for you two?
RR: Gabby is on Dancing With The Stars! Everybody vote for Gabby! I actually went to her first dance and she really is a force out there. I know she’s going to win, so I’m so excited for her! For me, I’m excited to start moving forward. We’ve been on this journey for a year this week actually, so I’m ready to finally start living our lives.
GW: I’m excited about what the future holds for both of us! I’ve watched Grachel grow—Grachel!
RR: Why isn’t that our couple name?!
GW: I’ve watched Rachel grow so much from the beginning of Clayton’s season till now, and I’m just so proud of who you are as a woman, and I know only good things are going to come!
Cue the waterworks.
Photography by: ABC/Gizelle Hernandez, Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images, ABC/Craig Sjodin