To them, it’s not just reality TV, it’s reality.
Brad Smith and Bianka Kamber are adamant that the bond they forged on Citytv’s The Bachelor Canada is the real deal.
Their engagement was revealed to viewers in the series finale on Wednesday night (one last episode, After the Final Rose, airs next Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.).
But a week before that, Smith and Kamber were in Toronto doing a photo shoot for Hello Canada’s Nov. 22 issue in a downtown hotel.
When it was suggested their next photo shoot might be at their wedding, Smith replied firmly, “Not if but when.”
In fact, if it was up to him, they would be married already.
After Smith proposed to Kamber in front of the cameras about five months ago, producers sent them to Rhode Island for 14 days.
“The day the cameras stopped was the day OK, let’s see if this works. Within about six hours . . .” began Smith.
“. . . It was like we dated and the show never existed,” continued Kamber.
“And then within two days of being on the trip, we were trying to get eloped,” said Smith. “I was that sure. I’m the type of guy who’s never talked about moving in with a girl and now . . . it seemed so surreal and disingenuous to say that you are gonna find your future partner on national television.”
Yet, there they were, looking relaxed and happy, Bianka sporting a 2.14-carat, princess-cut Tacori diamond ring (with another 1.4 carats of smaller stones for good measure; to preserve the surprise, it had to be surrendered right after the photo shoot and stay at the jeweller’s for another week).
The couple understands people are skeptical that you can find love on a TV show, particularly a show that has never produced a lasting union in its American version (although one fellow did marry the runner-up).
It wasn’t like it was love at first sight for the Canadian couple, either. In fact, Smith almost sent Kamber home early in the season.
“There was one week when we went from 16 to 12 (bachelorettes); she was No. 13, she wasn’t on the list because she was so standoffish and one of the producers came to me, he was like, ‘Brad, you know, I just have a feeling about her, just give her a chance.’ And I was like, ‘OK.’ The next week was Mexico and that was the beginning of the end.”
Kamber, whose previous claim to fame was being the ex-girlfriend of Kris Humphries, a.k.a. Kim Kardashian’s 72-day husband, explains that she was reserved in the beginning because she was protecting herself. As one of 25 women that Smith had to choose from, she decided not to try to get his attention but to let him come to her if he was interested.
“Once he gave me a reason to trust him, I felt a little more secure, then I opened up a little bit more,” she said.
That happened in Mexico, where Smith took Kamber on a private date.
“It was, I mean I think (the producers) were a little worried to show exactly how it was because it was so intense from Mexico on,” says Smith.
By the time they had their “fantasy date” in Newfoundland just weeks later, which was shown on the Nov. 7 episode, Smith said he knew Kamber was the one. Kamber suspected it even earlier, after Smith came to Mississauga to meet her family, but it was confirmed in Newfoundland. “Never before have I ever not had a doubt about somebody and I never had a doubt about him,” she said.
Yet Smith had fantasy dates lined up with two other women, runner-up Whitney, a Calgary administrative assistant, and Delta, B.C., grad student Kara.
Asked how tough those were, knowing his feelings for Kamber, Smith said, “It’s a process and you have to go through it a certain way and, for me, it’s not like I didn’t have genuine feelings for the other (two). You’re put in a position where you do and that’s the unnatural thing. . . . What me and B, we talked about it’s a big picture thing. What we felt was real and what we filmed was real, but we knew that the day that that ended and the next day was real life, that was the start of our relationship.”
Still, Kamber had a chat with Smith on the beach in Ferryland, N.L. (where they’d had a harrowing experience kayaking up to a massive iceberg on choppy seas) about how the other dates would play out, given that the other women would also get chances to stay with Smith in a “fantasy suite.”
“I pretty much said . . . I know there’s two more girls after me and should there be anything that happens that I wouldn’t approve of not to give me a rose at the next rose ceremony,” Kamber said.
Well, she got the rose and the ring. And, most importantly for both of them, the chance to share their relationship with the world.
“It’s not a natural process to have the most elation you’ve ever felt in your entire life and then subdue it for five months, and that’s why I think (Bachelor) relationships are tough,” said Smith. “It’s not because the people don’t like each other coming off the shows, it’s . . . having to communicate constantly on the phone and Skype and not in person, and watch the show and rewatch it. For her especially, it’s an uncomfortable feeling.
“As long as you’re sure what the big picture is, you get through it.”
They would have loved if more of their relationship had been shown on TV, but “we both feel we came off well and now we can move forward having our life together and not worry about the show anymore,” said Smith.
They hadn’t started making wedding plans yet but intended to as soon as possible.
But first, “I want to have dinner with her in public, I want to take a walk in Mississauga, hold her hand. . . . I’m going to Yonge and Dundas and we’re putting on a 30-minute makeout clinic,” joked Smith.
“Yes!” laughed Kamber.
“No one’s gonna expect it because it’s just one of those things, it’s just too surreal to believe that it can happen,” Smith added.
“It’s just a situation where we’re two normal people. We’re going to get to start our lives in front of the eight ball rather than behind and we’re so lucky for everything that Bachelor Canada did for us.”