The love birds’ Bach­e­lor ro­mance just got real!

Woman’s Day (NZ) - - What a Week! -

For most cou­ples, coun­selling is a last-ditch ef­fort to save a strained re­la­tion­ship, but mil­len­nial love­birds Zac Franich and Viarni Bright sought the help of trained pro­fes­sion­als just weeks into their blos­som­ing ro­mance.

While the be­sot­ted duo – who sim­ply can’t stop gaz­ing into each other’s eyes and smil­ing sweetly at one an­other dur­ing our ex­clu­sive shoot – know their ex­pe­ri­ence on The Bach­e­lor New Zealand couldn’t have worked out bet­ter, they are candid about the dif­fi­cul­ties that come with find­ing love in front of the na­tion.

“It pre­sented chal­lenges to us in dif­fer­ent ways,” says 28-year-old Zac. “I know Viarni found it hard to deal with the way the show played out in the end. It was a two-horse race – some peo­ple wanted person X to get the fi­nal rose and some peo­ple wanted person Y. I felt a lit­tle burnt-out af­ter film­ing. I was con­stantly end­ing re­la­tion­ships, but wasn’t able to prop­erly process those feel­ings.”

While the Three se­ries fin­ished up on screens only last week, in re­al­ity film­ing ended back in May, mean­ing the cou­ple had to keep their re­la­tion­ship top se­cret for over a month. With very few peo­ple to con­fide in, Zac – who used ther­apy to over­come his bat­tle with de­pres­sion in 2015 – says their coun­sel­lor of­fered an in­de­pen­dent per­spec­tive and helped them make sense of their unique sit­u­a­tion.

“It was re­ally im­por­tant to us that we could both be across what we were feel­ing and how it was im­pact­ing our re­la­tion­ship,” he says. “And V was su­per-sup­port­ive through all of that – she truly is in­cred­i­ble.”

The strap­ping surf-life­sav­ing coach can hardly be­lieve he’s lucky enough to call Viarni, 22, his girl­friend. The mo­ment he set eyes on the flame-haired beauty as she stepped out of the car in her sparkly, rose-em­bel­lished gown on the show’s pre­miere, Zac was im­me­di­ately taken.

Spe­cial spark

“There was def­i­nitely some­thing there and that was un­de­ni­able – it was im­pos­si­ble to hide the big, goofy grin on my face,” he confesses. “And the more I spent time with Viarni, the deeper those feel­ings be­came. V is al­ways there for me. She’s car­ing and sup­port­ive, and makes me feel like I’m not alone. She has this way of mak­ing me feel spe­cial.

It’s some­thing I adore and I hope I can al­ways do the same for her.”

“You def­i­nitely do,” blushes Viarni, who’s hap­pily wrapped in Zac’s arms. “I went on to this show know­ing I might leave bro­ken-hearted, but I never knew I could be this happy.

“Zac is my boyfriend, but he’s also my best mate. He’s a big softie who can make me smile for no rea­son at all. Hon­estly, it still doesn’t quite feel real. It’s the nicest feel­ing know­ing that he’s all mine and we have for­ever to be to­gether.”

While the start­ing date of their re­la­tion­ship is a lit­tle tricky to pin­point, the cou­ple have de­cided May 22 – the night The Bach­e­lor NZ Live:

Af­ter seal­ing the deal with a stun­ning sparkler in the tense TV fi­nale (above), Zac’s re­lieved he can fi­nally show off his girl in pub­lic. De­spite shar­ing a sur­pris­ingly strong bond with some oth­ers on the show, the Bach­e­lor hunk ad­mits he was drawn to Viarni from the start.

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