As most women do, Ali Fedotowsky can’t help but cry over a good love story. Especially when it’s her own. So every time she’s watched the finale of The Bachelorette, the ABC reality series where she searched for love, and arrives at the moment when dashing insurance agent Roberto Martinez, 26, asks for her hand in marriage atop a Tahitian knoll, the waterworks start. “I’ve seen it eight times in 24 hours,” says Ali, 25, who gleefully accepted Roberto’s proposal. “I cry every single time.” Ali is thrilled to have found her happily-ever-after. So much so that she’s scrawled I [Heart] ROBERTO on the Converse sneakers she wears nearly every day. In permanent ink, no less.
Not so overjoyed was Ali’s other potential suitor, Cape Cod, Mass., landscaper Chris Lambton, 33, who was also planning to propose. Knowing that he wasn’t the one for her, Ali let Chris go the day before their planned final meeting-an unusual move for the show. “When a man proposes to a woman, it should be a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I didn’t want to take that moment away from Chris,” explains Ali, who is hopeful that Chris will soon find love just as she has with Roberto (see sidebar). The giddy couple, who will soon relocate to San Diego, sat with PEOPLE senior writer Monica Rizzo to talk about their instant love connection and their plans for the future.
It seemed you two were falling for each other from the first time you met. Was it love at first sight?
ALI: Yes! I think it’s pretty obvious my feelings were strong for Roberto all along. Before, I always looked at relationships in a very pragmatic way. Now I’m a believer.
ROBERTO: It was like that for me too. The minute I walked out of that limo, it was like a train hit me.
How do your families feel?
ROBERTO: They are excited. They are so happy it’s winding down. They’re like, “Now she can come over!”
ALI: Seriously, I think my dad may have asked Roberto to marry him! Biggest man crush. My mom was watching Roberto talk to my brother and sister, and she said, “That’s my future son-in-law.” She just knew. They loved Chris, but they could tell where my heart was.
You’ve had to keep things under wraps for a couple of months. What have you been doing all this time?
ALI: We played many card games together-Rummy 500. He knows not to beat me because I get very, very angry. We watched movies.
ROBERTO: Ten chick flicks, maybe one guy movie. When she slips away, I’ll put on Sports Center.
ALI: And we’ve been watching all of the wedding shows.
ROBERTO: I’m ready for Bridezilla!
So wedding plans are under way?
ROBERTO: First she’s going to move to San Diego, where I have a job. She loves California. I’ve always said I want her to be happy. I can be happy anywhere, so I spoke with my company and found an office in San Diego.
ALI: My title right now is homemaker, but it’s really important that I start doing something right away. If I’m home all day while he’s at work, I’m going to drive myself crazy.
Wedding planning will keep you busy, right?
ALI: Ha! We’re both excited about the idea of getting married next summer. And I’m going to wear these sneakers on my wedding day.
Do you want a televised wedding like former Bachelor Jason Mesnick and his bride, Molly, had?
ALI: At first I thought, “Absolutely not. Private moment.” But then as we were talking about it, we want to get a house and have a family. So if for one day in our life we can have a beautiful wedding and not have to spend any money on it and take that money to put into our house or our savings … we want to do what’s most practical for us. What really matters is making our marriage successful.
ROBERTO: Plus, my mom wants to have 700 people at our wedding.
Have you practiced calling yourself Ali Martinez?
ALI: Yes! I don’t want to be Fedotowsky any more. Can we get married tomorrow?
ROBERTO: Done! Every morning I wake up and I’m like, “Oh man, I’m so lucky.” I wish I had met her sooner.
A lot of couples get to this point after the show, and then the relationship can’t be sustained in the real world. The most recent Bachelor, Jake Pavelka, split with his choice, Vienna Girardi, after seven months. Are you worried about that happening to you guys?
ROBERTO: If you worry about that, then it creeps into the relationship. You have to have that trust factor. Ali is extremely intelligent, she’s driven, she’s got a lot of focus. I love that about her.
ALI: Anyone that’s gone through this experience and hasn’t come out of it with a superstrong relationship, I feel sorry for them. For [Jake and Vienna], there was something there that was broken already. I just hope that we would make good choices for us as a couple. We wouldn’t want to put stressors on our relationship.
What have you been surprised to discover about each other?
ALI: He gets up in the middle of the night and eats Oreos.
ROBERTO: I eat a lot. If she didn’t know that before, she definitely knows that now!
ALI: I’m messy with clothes. In my bedroom everything is everywhere. The living room and kitchen are tidy.
ROBERTO: It would take a lot more than that to be a turnoff. I don’t clean up after myself either.
You asked Roberto in Spanish if he’d accept the final rose.
AlI: I wanted that to be special. I got [computer software] Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish. I need to buckle down and practice. The other day I said, “The fish is flying!”
ROBERTO: She’s doing great. She’s picking it up quickly, and her accent is very good.
So this is the real deal?
ALI: Seriously, from the moment we left Tahiti, we were texting each other, calling each other, nonstop. There’s never been a moment that we ever questioned it.
ROBERTO: For me, it was about “Do I want to spend the rest of my life with this woman?” I thought about it a lot, and everything pointed to yes. That’s how I feel now; that’s how I’ll feel forever.