2 Women Exit Before Bachelor Clayton's First Rose Ceremony: 'Not the Way That I Was Hoping to Start'

"The first rose that I have given out as the Bachelor was rejected," Clayton Echard said in the season 26 premiere of The Bachelor

This post contains spoilers from Monday's premiere of The Bachelor.

Welcome back to the Bachelor Mansion!

After taking a break from filming at the franchise's iconic California villa, the show returned to kick off Clayton Echard's season on Monday.

"I'm sure you're wondering why I'm the Bachelor based off of only getting eight minutes of screen time on The Bachelorette," said Clayton, who appeared on Michelle Young's season. "And you know, it's because I truthfully believe in this process more than anybody else. I know that I can find my wife here. I know this works."

Before the former NFL player, 28, met any of his potential wives, one woman named Salley, worried about starting the journey to find love on the same weekend she was supposed to get married after calling off her engagement. "That was the most heartbreaking decision of my life," she said in an on-camera interview.


So even before the limo arrivals, Salley, 26, went to Clayton's room to talk about potentially going home.

"This weekend has been extremely hard for me," the spine surgery robot operator told Clayton. "I was engaged in the past and I was supposed to get married yesterday. Part of me is being pulled home but I didn't want to fully come to that decision until I met you. And you're really good-looking. I've heard nothing but great things about you. I feel weird being here the weekend of my wedding."

Then, Salley started to cry. "I thought I was ready for something like this and I don't … I don't know if my heart is ready," she continued.

Clayton said he understood, but added, "I really think there's potentially something there."

The University of Missouri alum stepped away for a moment and returned with something behind his back. "Truthfully, us talking, there's definitely chemistry," he said to Salley. "It really makes me feel like there could be something special and so I really, really want you here. So much so that I want to prove that. And so Salley, will you accept this rose?"

Salley said she needed time to think and left the room. When she came back, Salley informed Clayton about her decision. "I want to accept that rose," she said. "My heart is just not in the place where I can. And I feel so bad about that. My heart is just not ready."

With that, Salley departed — and Clayton felt defeated. "The first rose that I have given out as the Bachelor was rejected," Clayton told the cameras. "This is not the way that I was hoping to start my journey to find love."


Clayton still had 30 more women to meet, though. Wealth management advisor Sarah, 23, stepped out of the limo first and handed him a tiger token as "a little reminder of home," she explained. (A reference to both of their alma maters' mascots: Clemson University for her, and Mizzou for him.)

"First girl out and she is beautiful!" Clayton remarked as Sarah headed inside.

sarah and clayton

Industrial sales representative Lyndsey W. arrived next. "I'm from the South but you're so tall you got me looking all north," the 28-year-old told Clayton.

Then came bartender Genevieve, 26, sales manager Ency, 28, wedding videographer Susie, 28, spray tanner Claire, 28, and elementary school teacher Serene, 26.

Surgical unit nurse Teddi — who revealed in her video intro that she's a 24-year-old virgin — showed up and told Clayton, "Hopefully soon I'll be your teddy bear."

"Teddi, you make me feel some type of way," Clayton told her.

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The night proceeded with human resources specialist Tessa, 26, and neonatal nurse Lindsey D., 27. Daria, 24, showed up wearing a rose necklace. "My last name is rose and I'm hoping that tonight ends with a rose," the law student told Clayton.

The Bachelor took a quick detour inside the mansion before meeting the rest of the group. "I am breaking code here but I just want to come in here," he told the women. "Like, I can't wipe the smile off my face right now. I am so excited already."

Clayton introduced himself to Kate, who suggested holding her nips to relax. The real estate agent, 32, continued to pull out tiny bottles of alcohol and persuaded Clayton to take a shot with her. "Maybe we could both use something to take the edge off," Kate said.

kate and clayton

Meanwhile, Sierra, 26, insisted she and Clayton would tie the knot. "Don't freak out but I'm your wife and I just got back from the future, okay?" the recruiting coordinator said to him. "And you end up choosing me anyway so you want to just get out of here?"

Personal trainer Melina, 27, jumped off of her moon shoes into Clayton's arms, and pediatric nurse Hailey, 26, asked him to open a jar of pickles. Jill, 26, brought Clayton the ashes of her ex-boyfriends. "I brought them here just in case you make the same mistake," the architectural historian warned.

Former Olympian Marlena, 30, threw a flag on Clayton for "being so hot" and social media director Jane arrived in a vintage car. "I've been called a cougar once or twice but I like to consider myself vintage like a classic car," the 33-year-old told Clayton. "And I'm hoping you're a man that can appreciate the classics."

Retiree Holly, 63, walked up to Clayton next, but only to introduce flight instructor Rachel. "Holly was my wing-woman to get me in here," the 25-year-old said.

shanae and clayton

Bar mitzvah dancer Ivana, 31, blew Clayton a kiss and said nothing else, while physician Kira, 32, strode up wearing just a white coat and red lingerie because she said, "I'm here to give you your full body physical."

Entrepreneur Mara, 32, showed up next followed by Rianna, a registered nurse who informed Clayton she planned to ride in on a horse but changed her mind. "I was like, why don't we save a horse and you could ride a cowgirl?" the 26-year-old declared.

Marketing manager Eliza, 25, shared a snack with Clayton and Gabby, 30, brought him a pillow. "I just want to sit on your face," the ICU nurse informed Clayton.

eliza and clayton

Real estate advisor Elizabeth, 32, whipped Clayton upon their first meeting and HR specialist Hunter, 28, brought a snake because she believed in "love at first hiss."

Then, occupational therapist Samantha, 26, rolled up in a bathtub covered in bubbles and offered Clayton a glass of champagne.

For the final two arrivals, executive recruiter Cassidy, 26, rode in on a tiny toy car — only for it to be crushed by 29-year-old recruiter Shanae, who drove up in a monster truck.

samantha and clayton


After meeting all 30 suitors, Clayton went inside to continue getting to know the women.

"I have never seen so many beautiful women in one room. I'm going to be in way over my head, but in the best possible way," Clayton told the group before spilling some of his drink on his suit. "Guys, I'm nervous alright. I really am. Like, it doesn't feel real to me. Like now I'm here, it's like, okay, I guess you are the Bachelor at this point."

During their conversation, Elizabeth gave Clayton an old photo of her grandfather to hold on to "as a symbol of everything in this life happens for a reason."

Teddi told Clayton how happy she felt about him being the Bachelor. "It's something about you," he told Teddi. "Like when you stepped out I was just like, I don't know."


Then, Clayton shared his first kiss of the season with Teddi. "I felt that spark right away," he told the cameras. "It's wild."

Doctor Kira returned to give Clayton his physical. "You do have a heart, let's see if we can make it beat a little bit faster," she said before kissing him.

Eliza, who is from Germany, translated some German phrases with Clayton, including one that meant "can we kiss?" Clayton said "yes," and they proceeded to smooch.

Claire and Clayton spoke about their favorite football teams and played cornhole at a tailgate, where they also ate chicken wings. But Claire left the interaction feeling like she and Clayton wouldn't work out. "He's 100 percent too nice for me," Claire told the other women.


Serene told Clayton he should probably talk to Claire again because of the negative statements she'd been making about him around the house, including that she hated him. Clayton did just that, but Claire denied saying she hated him.

"No, I don't hate you I just, it feel like we just haven't like clicked," Claire said.

Clayton proceeded to walk Claire out and told the rest of the ladies about his decision. "I don't think it's fair to have somebody here that doesn't want to be here when there are so many phenomenal women in this room," he said.

The Missouri native opened up the floor for anyone else to leave if they weren't feeling a relationship with him, but no one else did.

He continued to chat with Genevieve ("We are going to have a lot of fun, I can tell," Clayton told her), as well as Rachel, who Clayton said "stopped me in my tracks," and Teddi.

Clayton talks to Genevieve
clayron. ABC

"From the moment that you stepped out of the limo, I just couldn't get you off my mind. I just, I don't even know how to explain it," Clayton said to Teddi. "I just want to … when we talk there's a clear connection."

Clayton presented Teddi with the first impression rose — and she accepted with a kiss. "I'm going to be thinking about that kiss for a while," Clayton said to the cameras.


"After tonight, I truthfully believe that my future wife is in this room," Clayton said while addressing the group. "I know it wholeheartedly. I do want to apologize to those that I was not able to speak with. Just know ultimately that I'm following my heart and doing what I believe is best for me."

clayton echard

At his first rose ceremony, Clayton gave roses to: Serene, Susie, Eliza, Rachel, Lindsay D., Sarah, Kate, Cassidy, Elizabeth, Kira, Shanae, Sierra, Mara, Marlena, Genevieve, Melina, Gabby, Jill, Lyndsey W., Hunter and Tessa.

The Bachelor airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

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