Let's back up — during the two-hour finale, 26-year-old bachelor Ben Higgins proposed to 25-year-old flight attendant Lauren Bushnell. There was some drama, given that Ben had repeatedly said "I love you" to both Lauren and the runner-up, 24-year-old real estate developer Joelle "JoJo" Fletcher. That's a major breach of "Bachelor" etiquette, because why would you tell a woman you loved her if you were planning to dump her on live television and propose to someone else?
Sure enough, JoJo was understandably confused when Ben, who had just professed his love days earlier, explained that she wasn't going to get the ring. "I didn't know if I could find love … I found it with you, but I found it with somebody else more," Ben explained in the worst "Bachelor" breakup speech ever. JoJo was devastated and fled in tears.
Fast forward to Monday night's live "After the Final Rose," taking place several months after the show filmed. JoJo showed up looking cool and collected — like she knew she was going to be named the franchise's next "Bachelorette" (spoiler alert: she was!) — and calmly confronted Ben about why he chose Lauren. Ben rambled on about how he couldn't picture a future without Lauren. JoJo appeared satisfied with that explanation, saying she was hurt at first but moved on.
Then Lauren came out on stage and cuddled with Ben as they made their public debut. Snoozefest! Clearly ABC knew they weren't going to wring much drama out of these people, unlike the "After the Final Rose" days when Juan Pablo Galavis had a meltdown or Jason Mesnick changed his mind and chose the runner-up. So those wily "Bachelor" producers came up with a great plan: Set up a wedding arch on set; invite Ben's hometown pastor Denny from Indiana; and try to pressure Ben and Lauren to get married on the spot. What could go wrong?!
Well, everything, obviously. Logically, Ben and Lauren were not going to go through with this wacky plan, even though poor pastor Denny had to stand backstage for three hours with his bible in hand, at the ready. So producers only left 10 minutes at the end of the episode where host Chris Harrison sprung this idea on them.
"You told me there was something you were ready to do," Harrison told Ben, reminding him that he recently said "I'm in love [with Lauren] and I would marry her tomorrow if I could."
Ben laughed nervously as Harrison dropped the bomb that his words were about to be taken at face value: "I know a pastor and dear friend of yours … we can do this right here right now!" he announced, and pastor Denny walked on stage.
Ben and Lauren looked confused and supremely uncomfortable. "Lauren, you are wearing white," Harrison pointed out, noting Lauren's short lace dress. "Ben, it's your move, my friend!"
"Um," Ben said in response. The audience cheered.
"By the way, Neil Lane is here with the wedding band," Harrison pressed, gesturing to the famed jeweler in the crowd.
Ben turned and whispered in Lauren's ear, and then smiled. "Denny, thank you for coming," a still-bewildered Ben said to his pastor. He explained that he and Lauren "owe it to each other" to have a traditional wedding, a later date, when all their family and friends can be there.
"If only there was some family here," Harrison sighed, refusing to let it go, as both Ben and Lauren's parents were in the audience.
Ben didn't dignify that with a response, and instead jumped up to greet his pastor. "Thanks for coming to L.A., buddy," he told Denny. "When we do it, though, we'll give you a call."
Unfortunately, that left about eight minutes of dead airtime after Ben said "thanks but no thanks." So producers were forced to fill it with long scenes of Ben and Lauren's family hugging each other on stage, and another speech from Ben where he proposed (for a second time!) to Lauren.
"You wiggled out of that very well," Harrison said a bit caustically. He still tried to salvage the failed experiment: "I feel like we should set a wedding date now," Harrison said as the two families joined together on stage. "Denny, stay warmed up."