"Jessica and I have learned to adapt and stay open to whatever the world brings us," says Ben Higgins, who changed engagement party plans due to COVID

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Ben Higgins is one step closer to becoming a married man!

The former Bachelor star and his fiancée Jessica Clarke, who have been engaged since March 2020, celebrated their impending nuptials on July 30 — with a twist.

At the last minute, Higgins, 32, and Clarke decided to shift their planned Napa weekend to a virtual one, due to the uptick in recent COVID cases.

"We wanted to make sure everyone felt safe for the celebration," Higgins tells PEOPLE. "We didn't mind if people still went to Napa, but we didn't want people to feel forced to go."

Bachelor Nation alums and Higgins' pals Nick Viall, Caelynn Miller-Keyes and Dean Unglert are among the few who still decided to attend the Napa gathering, where they stayed at the Vista Collina Resort.

Ben Higgins, Jess Clarke
Credit: Ben Higgins/Instagram

Higgins and Clarke, meanwhile, tuned in to the party virtually.

"It's incredible getting to sit next to Jessica and talk with friends about the love of my life," says Higgins who shared details on his Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous podcast that he co-hosts with Ashley Iaconetti. "My favorite part was being able to celebrate something and someone so wonderful. The way my friends have welcomed Jessica and supported our relationship not only encourages us but makes it more fun."

Jessica Clarke, Ben Higgins
Credit: Jessica Clarke/Instagram

As far as the last-minute change in plans, Higgins, who postponed his initial wedding date due to COVID, is taking it in stride.

"Jessica and I have learned to adapt and stay open to whatever the world brings us," he says. "At the end of it all, we are so excited about getting married that nothing will throw off our focus on that. We have learned to be ready for change!"