By Tom Gliatto
November 10, 2003 12:00 PM

Trista & Ryan

Weeks from saying ‘I Do,’ they tackle pet allergies and map out all the details

With only weeks to go before their wedding, Trista Rehn, 31, and her Bachelorette fiancé, Colorado firefighter Ryan Sutter, 29, have moved into a four-bedroom home near Vail. Outside the air is crisp and scented with pine. Inside it’s all dog, all the time, and Rehn keeps breaking out in hives. She’s acutely allergic to Natasha, Sutter’s 5-year-old Siberian husky. “For the past two weeks I’ve had huge welts on my face,” says Rehn, a former physical therapist who grew up in St. Louis, “because I’ll lean up against Ryan’s shirt where Natasha has touched him.” Can this relationship be saved? Yes, but at a cost: Rehn is off to see the allergist. “I hate needles, but I’ll deal with it.”

That sort of thing—those little day-to-day signs of commitment—make Sutter very happy. “It makes me feel good,” he says. “That’s part of a relationship you do things maybe you wouldn’t have before.”

In fact, the couple will soon be making reality-romance history. Not only will they be the first Bachelor sweet-hearts to actually tie the knot, but their nuptials will be taped and then aired on ABC Dec. 10. The two-hour wedding extravaganza will cap a three-part series of specials that promises a Harlequin romance wrap-up to the story that began when Rehn was rejected by Alex Michel on the first Bachelor in 2002, then fell for Sutter when she got to star on The Bachelorette this past winter. Cynics might point out that bride and groom are contracted with the producers to receive a total $1 million by the time they successfully finish exchanging their I dos. Says Rehn: “If you don’t want to believe in us, that’s okay. We’re still going to be in love.”

And at least until the wedding, she’s going to be very much in charge. With an enormous production budget, she’s putting together the ceremony of her dreams with some of the big names in the bridal business. “Trista’s very much into the romance of a fairy-tale wedding,” says florist Mark Held, who worked on the yet-to-be-completed Ben-Jennifer wedding. But she always consults Sutter and has given him the deciding vote on the cake. “So as long as there are sweets,” says wedding planner Mindy Weiss, who oversaw the Jessica SimpsonNick Lachey wedding last year, “Ryan’ll be happy.” And probably grateful: “When we first did the guest list,” he says, “it was a little overwhelming.”

But Sutter’s learning. And so is she, as daily life reveals more details about each other’s off-camera self. “He’s very neat about his appliance cords,” says Rehn, who envisions having kids and commuting to L.A. for TV work. “We have iPods, and he’ll wrap the cord perfectly.” A seafood-lover, he wishes her diet wasn’t so heavy on starch. “It’s hard for me to emphasize how big she is on potatoes.” But when they wake up each morning, usually by 9:30—she never used to get up before 10—they’re thrilled to face another day together. “In the morning,” says Sutter, “I call her Sunshine.”

Andrew & Jen

In no hurry to tie the knot, the vintner and his bride-to-be let their TV romance ripen with age

“The show was step one,” says California vintner and millionaire Andrew Firestone, measuring the progress of his relationship with Jen Schefft, the Chicago account executive who accepted his rose—and his 2.8-carat engagement ring—on The Bachelor in May. “Since then, we’re 10 steps further.” That’s a conservative estimate. By now the couple is intimate enough that even the stuff about her he doesn’t like, he likes. Now that the bathroom of his two-bedroom San Francisco apartment is cluttered with what seems to be an interbreeding collection of shampoos and soaps, “the smell of her lotions drives me bananas,” he says. “But when I’m on the road, that’s the stuff I miss the most.”

The fact that she often packs a suitcase to go with him has only solidified them as a team. When the 27-year-old Schefft left Chicago for San Francisco at the end of May, Firestone’s family put her to work doing promotion for their Firestone wines, grown on 500 acres in the In no Santa Ynez Valley. “We’re not a big winery,” says Firestone, 28. “We sell on reputation and family, and Jen fits into that.” She stands by his side in supermarket appearances, autographing bottles. (When home, she greets visitors to the tasting room.) If she ever feels her energy flagging, “I just think of how lucky I am to be with him.”

The only time she completely tunes out Firestone business and family lore—Andrew is the great-grandson of tire magnate Harvey Firestone—is the 15 extra minutes of sleep she claims for herself after hitting the snooze but-ton in the morning. “When the alarm goes off again, she’s awake,” says Firestone, “but that 15-minute gap, you don’t mess with her. I know that now!” And she wouldn’t dream of asking for the TV remote. “He lets me have my way in a lot of things,” says Schefft, “but that’s not one of them.” When it comes to music, there’s room to compromise. “I like punk rock and she likes Justin Timberlake,” he says, “but we’re expanding each other’s horizons.”

The merging of families has been especially smooth. The Firestones have already taken to calling Schefft “Lola.” “We have nicknames for everything,” explains Firestone. “We’ve had cars that were named Lola. Everything has a moniker to it just to make it friendly.” (His nick? Buzz.) Her family in Mentor, Ohio, is just as accepting: “My husband, Dave, really likes him,” says Schefft’s mother, Diane. “I tease him because no dad ever thinks a man is good enough for his daughter, but he really likes Andrew’s sense of humor.” While they settle into the relationship, the couple aren’t setting any sort of date for the wedding—and it’s unlikely they’ll give ABC the opportunity to film the event when it happens. “I’d be shocked if they do that,” says Firestone’s brother Adam, 41. “It came up with ABC months ago, and it got shot down very quickly.” Once they do marry, children will definitely follow, says Firestone. “Family is my No. 1 priority in life,” he says. “I want to be the dad who drives on the long road trip with cheesy road-trip songs. I see myself as Clark W. Griswold,” the character Chevy Chase played in the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies.

Perhaps by then, the couple will have a home of their own to return to. For now, they continue to share their apartment with Firestone’s good friend insurance salesman Kevin Krystofiak, 26. Firestone sees nothing wrong with keeping a bud around while developing a reality romance. “It’s not like that Notting Hill movie,” he says, “where the roommate is sitting there in the bathtub washing his underwear.” Schefft says it’s fine by her. “Kevin makes sure I’m okay when Andrew is gone. So if s a great situation, even though it sounds weird.” Krystofiak has no objections either: “A woman’s touch definitely adds to the place.”


Cynthia Wang in Beaver Creek, Colo., and Ulrica Wihlborg in Los Angeles