Nick Viall Opens Up About 'Emotional Roller Coaster' Proposal to Vanessa Grimaldi

Nick Viall gave away his final rose on Monday

Nick Viall and Vanessa Grimaldi are engaged!

On Monday’s final episode of The Bachelor, Viall, 36, got on one knee and asked the Canadian native for her hand in marriage — and she said yes!

“While I certainly had my fears [of being the Bachelor], I still followed my heart and put myself at risk,” Viall exclusively told PEOPLE. “I’m glad I did.”

Later adding of Grimaldi, “This one right here, she made it easy.”

Grimaldi caught the hearts of Bachelor nation fans (and Nick!) from the very beginning. After seeing the love she has for her family and her special needs students, Viall said the words we were all thinking the moment they locked eyes for the first time: “Wow. That’s a keeper.”

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Though Viall has finally found his forever love with Grimaldi, the days leading up to that moment weren’t easy.

“I was very nervous,” the Wisconsin native said. “It was a very long day and it wasn’t too long after saying goodbye to Raven. So, there were emotions from that. I think in that world the engagement day is not your ideal day just because it’s The Bachelor.”

“I think most people when they get engaged there’s a lot of great, exciting anticipation and for me that was a very emotional roller coaster,” he added. “Once I saw Vanessa, I kind of calmed my nerves. For me it was that moment where I had clarity. It was a calming feeling of knowing I made the right decision. It was all worth it! All the tears and all the ups and downs, it kind of just felt like, finally I got to the place that I hoped to get to.”

  • For more from Viall and Grimaldi, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
Jim Wright

The 36-year-old Bachelor nation alum got on one knee and proposed to Grimaldi after saying goodbye to runner-up, Raven Gates.

“As much as I cared about Raven, I felt like the answer became more and more clear that I was Vanessa,” Viall said. “I felt like I was fighting my feelings for Vanessa for a long time because there were other women involved. However, once I was kind of able and free to kind of make my choice, I felt like my heart knew for a while.”

The Canadian native had some emotions going into the final rose ceremony as well.

“I don’t know if something had shifted in his relationship with Raven, so there were doubts in my mind,” Grimaldi added. “I didn’t think any less of my relationship with Nick. I knew that what we had was special. Going into proposal I was hoping that he was going to get down on one knee and he did!”

From their first one-on-one date (where Vanessa got sick during the zero-gravity flight), their immediate connection was nothing less than obvious.

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“I find myself being very protective of her,” Viall said during their date.

“The fact that he took care of me was very romantic,” Grimaldi, 29, added. “He was there to hold my hand and still be the passionate Nick that he is after I was nauseous. It’s just something I’ve never experienced. He’s like the total package.”

Though it seemed as if their fairytale ending was just around the corner, there were times of doubt along the way.

“Nick is someone that I can actually picture spending the rest of my life with,” she said during their fantasy suite date in Finland. “But at the same time, we have that sort of relationship where our conversations are always so heavy. Today, I felt like Nick was questioning whether or not he wants to be as close to my family as I am. It’s been upsetting me.”

Ultimately, Viall knew Grimaldi was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

“I was fighting my feelings for Vanessa for such a long time because there were other women involved,” he admitted. “However, once I was able and free to make my choice, I felt like my heart knew for a while.”

Congrats to the happy couple!

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