Kenny Braasch Has No Regrets About Choices Made During Brief Split from Mari Pepin on 'BiP'

"Everything that happened put us where we are right now," he tells PEOPLE

Newly engaged Bachelor in Paradise couple Kenny Braasch and Mari Pepin needed time apart to make sure their connection was meant to be.

As fans recall, Braasch, 40, and Pepin, 25, immediately connected upon arriving in Mexico this season. But they hit a bump in the road when Pepin informed Braasch that she wanted to remain open to other possible connections, leading the boy band manager to believe their budding relationship was over.

During their time apart, Braasch briefly pursued fellow contestants Demi Burnett and Tia Booth. But Braasch and Pepin eventually found their way back together after having an honest conversation with each other about their feelings.

Looking back, Braasch tells PEOPLE he has no regrets over the pair's brief split, which he believes ultimately strengthened their bond.

"No, I don't have any regrets," he says. "There were a lot of things going on, but at the end of the day, everything that happened put us where we are right now. So it's all good."

BiP's Kenny and Mari
Craig Sjodin/abc

Braasch says he knew Pepin was the one for him early on. "Obviously, I was very into Mari from the very beginning," he says. "So once I sort of knew she was in the same place I was is when I started thinking, like, we might end up engaged at the end of this."

And Pepin believes her and Braasch's similar perspectives on life helped solidify their relationship.

"I feel like I'm kind of in a different life stage than most people my age. And so for me, I think someone who is in a similar stage [works best]," she says. "We do the same things and we've got the same habits, and it just works really well for us. So I think that's ultimately what I was looking for, and I found it."

As for the 15-year age gap between them, Pepin says it's not a non-issue. "I think the only way that it's noticeable is when we talk about movies or music, because [we're] obviously [from] different generations," she says.

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BiP's Kenny and Mari
Craig Sjodin/ABC

Braasch proposed to Pepin with an oval-shaped diamond ring surrounded by 42 round-cut diamonds, designed by franchise jeweler Neil Lane. With the news finally out in the open, the Chicago native says he's "just glad that we can just go outside and walk around." Pepin is similarly looking forward to being "a real engaged couple" — though the two did manage to sneakily partake in one real-world activity before their engagement was public.

"We actually snuck [out] to [got to] a concert together. We saw Journey here in Chicago," Pepin reveals. "We weren't supposed to, but we didn't get caught. We both wore hats. I wore a pair of glasses, and it was really late at night, so it worked out."

As for what's next, Braasch and Pepin are beginning to think about their eventual wedding.

"I have all my ideas of what I want for my wedding, but we haven't started planning anything solid yet," she says. "The only thing that we've agreed on so far is that we will get married in Puerto Rico."

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