By People Staff
March 01, 2010 12:00 AM

Dallas pilot Jake Pavelka signed on to star on The Bachelor to “find love.” And that he did!

After a season filled with drama, heartache and tabloid rumors, Pavelka, 32, popped the question to 23-year-old Florida fitness consultant Vienna Girardi in St. Lucia on the show’s season finale Monday night.

Girardi, the subject of a slew of tabloid rumors about betrayal and plastic surgery in recent weeks, tearfully accepted Pavelka’s earnest, down-on-one-knee proposal, embracing him as the season’s theme, Jeffrey Osborne’s “On The Wings of Love,” played over a video montage.

On the season finale Pavelka had to choose between the spirited, adventurous Girardi, and the wholesome, earthy Tenley Molzahn. He introduced both women to his family, who fell for Molzahn. They seemed to be lukewarm on Girardi, after hearing she didn’t get along well with the other women on the show. But by the end of the intense meet-and-greets, the Pavelka family gave him their blessings for both women.

For viewers, it was clear Pavelka was smitten with Girardi, especially on their last adventure to a sulfur spring. They rubbed mud on each other’s bodies and seemed happier than two pigs in a puddle. Girardi scrawled “I Love You” on Pavelka’s mud-covered chest, and the two snuggled and kissed, later rinsing off near a waterfall. That evening, Girardi gave Pavelka a ring her father had given her.

The next day Pavelka’s yacht outing with Molzahn was more subdued. He wondered aloud if maybe they lacked physical chemistry for each other. Molzahn, who went through a painful divorce last year, seemed hurt and confused.

It was a foreshadowing of things to come. Both women readied for the final rose ceremony, arriving via helicopter to a lush remote location where Pavelka, dressed in a gray suit, awaited.

Pavelka fought back tears as he tried to let Molzahn down gently. “You’re just perfect,” he said. “I don’t know what it is. Something just doesn’t feel right. I don’t know why.” The two had an emotional embrace, and Molzahn ended up consoling Pavelka by saying, “Thank you for making me feel special.”

The two said goodbye, and then Pavelka awaited Girardi’s arrival, saying, “I would never ask for a woman’s hand in marriage unless I was 100 percent sure.”

Once standing face-to-face with Girardi, who wore an emerald green off-the-shoulder gown, Pavelka couldn’t contain his emotions. First, he told Girardi he couldn’t accept the ring she’d given him the night before because it had sentimental value to her. Girardi seemed hurt and confused, as if she were about to be jilted.

Then, fighting back tears, Pavelka declared what he’d wanted to all season long, “Vienna, I love you.”

Relieved, the two embraced and kissed. Then Pavelka took a step back, dropped to one knee and, displaying a Neil Lane diamond and platinum sparkler in his hands, spoke from his heart, “Vienna, I love you with everything that I am. Vienna, will you marry me?”

He placed the engagement ring on her finger as she gasped and replied, “Oh my God. Yes. Yes!” –Monica Rizzo

Tell us: Did Jake make the right choice?John Shearer/WireImage