Getting dumped by Jordan Mauger on the second season of The Bachelor New Zealand was a blessing in disguise for Claudia Conaglen. While the fashion designer might not have found romance on the reality dating show, it did bring her true love, in the shape of fiancé Paul Ejamme.
Soon after leaving the Bachelor mansion in April last year, Claudia threw herself a 30th birthday bash, where she hit it off with the 27-year-old financial advisor, better known as Bluey, who crashed the party with a mutual friend.
“I was planning to head straight back to Bali, where I’d been living for eight years, but my friends convinced me to have a party in Auckland – now I’m so glad I did,” smiles Claudia, planting a kiss on her handsome hubby-to-be at our exclusive Woman’s Day shoot.
“The day after the party, he asked me out for dinner and the rest is history. I was straight up with Bluey from the get-go. I said, ‘I don’t know how you feel about me, but I’m not up for a fling – I’m ready for a serious relationship.’”
The feeling was mutual. Just one month later, Bluey invited Claudia to move in with him and seven months after that, last February, he asked her to be his wife at one of the couple’s favourite waterfalls in Hawke’s Bay.
On the morning of the proposal, the social media-obsessed duo posed for some Instagram photos before heading to the falls. Bluey tells, “At one point, I lifted Claudia up to twirl her around and she said she felt something in my pocket – it was the ring box. It wasn’t like the proposal was a complete surprise.
“From the moment we met, we knew we wanted to be together. We’d talked about marriage and starting a family a lot. Claudia came into my life at the perfect time. When we met, I wanted to give up drinking and smoking, and really focus on my business.
"She supported me all the way. She has a very positive, holistic lifestyle and is always looking out for me.”
While Bluey fell head over heels for his reality star sweetheart, he admits his family and close friends had their reservations.
“They had formed an opinion of her based on her time on the show,” says Bluey. “I’d never watched a single episode until Claudia forced me to and I didn’t like what I saw. They got her all wrong – she isn’t the bitchy girl they made her out to be. She’s funny, sweet and caring. As soon as they actually met her, they felt the same.”
The happy couple are now deep in wedding plans for their boho-themed big day in Taranaki early next year.
While they’ve left themselves little time to plan, the clucky bride-to-be just can’t wait to marry her man.
“As you get older, you realise if you’ve met the love of your life, then why waste your time?” says Claudia. “Not to mention that my biological clock is ticking!”