Lily McManus was always going to be a bachelorette unlike any other.
From start to finish, whether she was pulling roses out of her boot or tattooing her name on people's feet, she was nothing but unfiltered herself.
And tonight, when she told 32-year-old Richie Boyens that he was the one she wanted to be with, she did it in a suitably Lily way.
"You're the person that I want to make me breakfast in the morning!" she told the Wanaka-based fashion designer against the beautiful backdrop of Kauri Bay Lodge.
"All of the ups and the downs, and the early mornings and late nights, and the heartache and the hangovers, you've made it all worth it," Lily confessed to Richie, after earlier telling runner-up Jesse Williamson that her heart belonged to someone else.
While Richie had no doubt that he wanted to be with Lily, he wasn't certain his feelings were going to be reciprocated.
"Whatever happens, I know that me and Lily gave it everything we could and that's all I'm focusing on right now. I just hope she wants to continue it on," Richie said as he prepared to meet Lily.
When McManus made her surprise debut as The Bachelorette she was clear about what she had come on the show to find.
""I'm looking for a best friend really. I'm not ready for kids or marriage but that doesn't make my relationships any less valid," Lily told Breakfast's Matty McLean.
Lily had an easy rapport with Richie from the first time they met.
"What I like most about Richie is how he makes me feel, and that is comfortable, excited and effortless," Lily said after their first date.
"I think I'm in trouble."
But she did have one early reservation, that he might be too normal for her.
That didn't faze Richie in the slightest, he was determined he could win her over.
"I can't stop thinking about this whole process being over and me getting to just take Lily away, and us finally getting to be normal together," he said with a glint in his eye.
Sure enough, over the course of the season, Richie and Lily's connection deepened.
They bonded over their respective experiences facing adversity, Richie sharing that he'd suffered seizures in the past and Lily opening up to him about her hearing loss.
"I've really liked the way that mine and Richie's relationship has progressed," Lily admitted.
"I like that he's now showing me these parts of himself that he hasn't felt comfortable to show before."
Richie has been Lily's biggest cheerleader throughout the series, telling her that, "I can't wait to watch you take over the world."
"You bring out the best side of me, whether it's my emotional side, whether it's my competitive side, all of things that you want someone to bring out in you, you've been able to do that," he told her on their fantasy suite date.
Although Lily's hang-ups from a previous relationship threatened to derail things before they started, the bachelorette realised that she could trust Richie.
"I always start to expect the worst of something that is really, really, really good and I'm just going to stop it before it even starts this time because I'm aware of it," she said.
Her journey on the show hasn't been easy, especially watching her fellow bachelorette Lesina make the heartbreaking decision to walk away from the show alone. But after a pep talk from bachelor-turned-host Art Green, Lily was confident she was making the right choice.
"I know that this person I'm about to choose is worth all of it. They way that I feel about them is worth all of it and I didn't know if I knew that before, but now I know."
So when the time came to bare all to Richie, Lily knew exactly what she wanted to say.
"You are an amazing man and I wasn't sure if I was going to find someone like you here," Lily gushed.
A relieved Richie was just as complimentary.
"It's crazy to think that when I started off this journey finding someone like you was quite unrealistic in my books. Being able to open myself up was in the very back of my mind and you've just been amazing to be able to make me feel comfortable," Richie told Lily with a wide grin on his face.
"I'm over the moon."
While marriage and babies might not be on the cards anytime soon, Richie and Lily are content to take things one day at a time and enjoy life together outside of the Bachelorette bubble.
"I've never been so happy to be a normie!" Lily exclaimed.
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