Trista Sutter — then Trista Rehn — competed on the first-ever season of The Bachelor, vying for the heart of businessman Alex Michel. She was Michel’s runner-up, but she ended up getting an equally enviable prize: The title of the first-ever Bachelorette.
On her season, Trista fell for firefighter Ryan Sutter, who proposed during the finale. “Today is a day I have dreamt about my entire life, since I was a little girl, I had visions of a man I could see a future with, but someone whose face was always blurred until now,” Trista said before Ryan got down on one knee. “I see a white dress, and I see it with you. You stepped out of my dreams and into my world.”
The two married on Dec. 6, 2003 in the franchise’s first-ever televised wedding, broadcast as a mini-series, Trista & Ryan’s Wedding. It was watched by 26 million viewers and set the stage for a Bachelor tradition: Several other successful couples have gone on to have televised Bachelor weddings since then, and the Sutters have attended many of them.
Of course, early on, the couple had their doubters. During a photo shoot, Trista said then-American Idol judge Simon Cowell told her he didn’t have high hopes for their relationship: “Simon Cowell sat on a couch with me, and said ‘I give it six weeks.’ ” Nearly 14 years after their wedding, the couple has clearly proved Cowell wrong.
One reason for the success of their relationship? They’re quick to apologize — and to forgive. “Forgiveness is big,” Sutter said on Good Morning America. “No one is perfect, and neither of us are perfect.”
Four years after their wedding, they welcomed their first child, a boy named Max, on July 25, 2007. Trista left her career as a physical therapist to care for Max full-time. “I always wanted to be a career woman, but once we had our kids, I was like I’m done,” she said in an interview with Oprah in 2013. “I’m toast.”
And in April 2009 daughter Blakesley joined the family! “They are our world,” Trista said later of her children. “They really have shown us to appreciate the little things in life.”
Even though the family lives a decidedly non-Hollywood lifestyle, they haven’t abandoned their reality television roots completely. Since The Bachelorette, Trista competed on the first season of Dancing with the Stars and Ryan appeared on Fear Factor. As a couple, you might have caught them on Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars and Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
Though their whirlwind romance certainly had the makings of a reality TV fairy tale, Ryan says that happily ever after doesn’t come without hard work. “Love isn’t necessarily a fairy tale,” he said in an interview. “Love is a commitment.”
The family of four lives in Eagle County, Colorado, near the city of Vail. They told Oprah it was the “perfect place” to raise a family. There Ryan still works as a firefighter.
In June 2017, while on a family vacation in Croatia, Trista suffered a seizure. Afterward, she took to Instagram to share her thoughts on the experience, including how it reminded her that she “has an expiration date” and needs to “live life to the fullest.” She added a special thank you to her husband in the post, too. “Without you, I don’t know that I would be here today,” she wrote. “You are my everything and I love you forevermore.”
A few days later, in his own Instagram post, Sutter spoke of his own reaction to the situation. “In almost 17 years as a firefighter, my experience has trained me to address the immediate emergency,” he wrote. “However, little in my 42 years of life prepared me for the confusion and contemplation that remains after the tide of immediacy has settled.” He then thanked his friends and family for being a source of support for the couple after the incident.