New Zealand markets close in 3 hours 33 minutes
  • NZX 50

    11,010.25
    -189.79 (-1.69%)
     
  • NZD/USD

    0.5733
    +0.0002 (+0.03%)
     
  • NZD/EUR

    0.5833
    +0.0001 (+0.01%)
     
  • ALL ORDS

    6,739.40
    -21.20 (-0.31%)
     
  • ASX 200

    6,538.40
    -16.60 (-0.25%)
     
  • OIL

    81.34
    +0.11 (+0.14%)
     
  • GOLD

    1,671.30
    +2.70 (+0.16%)
     
  • NASDAQ

    11,164.78
    -329.05 (-2.86%)
     
  • FTSE

    6,881.59
    -123.80 (-1.77%)
     
  • Dow Jones

    29,225.61
    -458.13 (-1.54%)
     
  • DAX

    11,975.55
    -207.73 (-1.71%)
     
  • Hang Seng

    17,165.87
    -85.01 (-0.49%)
     
  • NIKKEI 225

    26,148.27
    -273.78 (-1.04%)
     
  • NZD/JPY

    82.7910
    +0.0440 (+0.05%)
     

Bachelorette Alum Luke Pell Is Engaged to Amanda Mertz: 'A Long Time Coming'

·3-min read
Luke Pell & Amanda Mertz Where was the image taken – Coliseum in Rome When was the image taken – July 2, 2022 Who took the photograph – Sal Pavone Full credit line – Sal Pavone
Luke Pell & Amanda Mertz Where was the image taken – Coliseum in Rome When was the image taken – July 2, 2022 Who took the photograph – Sal Pavone Full credit line – Sal Pavone

Sal Pavone

Luke Pell is no longer a Bachelor.

The season 12 Bachelorette contestant finally got his happily ever over the weekend when longtime girlfriend Amanda Mertz accepted his proposal during a romantic Italian vacation.

Pell hired a local group to play music on Saturday as he got down on one knee. He arranged for a photographer to capture the moment and recruited a florist to help stage the scene with flowers. He also tapped Mertz's girlfriends to help him pull off the big surprise.

"It feels like a long time coming. There's other points in my life which I thought I was much closer to it. And now, I'm finally there," Pell, 37, tells PEOPLE exclusively. "So [I'm] really excited — and excited about the next season of life."

Luke Pell & Amanda Mertz Where was the image taken – Coliseum in Rome When was the image taken – July 2, 2022 Who took the photograph – Sal Pavone Full credit line – Sal Pavone
Luke Pell & Amanda Mertz Where was the image taken – Coliseum in Rome When was the image taken – July 2, 2022 Who took the photograph – Sal Pavone Full credit line – Sal Pavone

Sal Pavone

RELATED GALLERY: The Celebrity Engagements of 2022

Pell met Mertz in 2018 and began dating her that same year. Though the pair took some time apart at the beginning of 2020, they eventually reconciled toward the end of that year.

The couple "really started looking at life together" from there, says Pell of his relationship with the 35-year-old on-air host.

Luke Pell & Amanda Mertz Where was the image taken – Coliseum in Rome When was the image taken – July 2, 2022 Who took the photograph – Sal Pavone Full credit line – Sal Pavone
Luke Pell & Amanda Mertz Where was the image taken – Coliseum in Rome When was the image taken – July 2, 2022 Who took the photograph – Sal Pavone Full credit line – Sal Pavone

Sal Pavone

"Sometimes our frustrations or our other distractions in life — a career, or things and logistics of life — that don't align. They push us away," he explains.

He continues, "And then when you get some distance from somebody, you realize, Wow, I mean, maybe there's challenges to what we're doing. Maybe we're not exactly the same person, but we have way more similarities than we have differences. There's something to be said for that. And that's what it was for us."

RELATED: Every Bachelor and Bachelorette Couple: Where Are They Now?

Luke Pell & Amanda Mertz Where was the image taken – Coliseum in Rome When was the image taken – July 2, 2022 Who took the photograph – Sal Pavone Full credit line – Sal Pavone
Luke Pell & Amanda Mertz Where was the image taken – Coliseum in Rome When was the image taken – July 2, 2022 Who took the photograph – Sal Pavone Full credit line – Sal Pavone

Sal Pavone

Now that they're engaged, Pell and Mertz are ready to begin planning their special day. They could get married as early as the end of the year or as late as early next year.

"We've talked about every type of wedding at this point. We started talking about a small destination wedding with friends and family and then, we've talked about big weddings as well," he says. "I think at this point, we are looking at having it in Texas, which is a destination wedding for some people."

"Everybody wants to go visit Texas and wear a cowboy hat, and that type of thing," he adds. "So yeah, we've got my family ranch in Texas and my mom has been working on having a wedding venue there, actually, for a couple of years. So we're excited about having it there."

RELATED: Bachelorette Alum Chase McNary Is Engaged to Ellie White: 'It Was Always You'

Pell teases that the big will "definitely" feature "a lot of our Bachelor family" on the guest list.

"There's a lot of folks that live in Nashville and that we're both friends with. And so those folks would be invited, for sure. We stayed close with them," he shares. "And then, some of the other ones I've stayed close with from my season, Chase McNary out in Scottsdale, where I would spend a lot of time for work. ... It's going to be exciting to reunite with that family as well."

Luke Pell & Amanda Mertz Where was the image taken – Positano/Capri When was the image taken – June 30, 2022 Who took the photograph – friend on iphone Full credit line – Courtesy of Luke Pell
Luke Pell & Amanda Mertz Where was the image taken – Positano/Capri When was the image taken – June 30, 2022 Who took the photograph – friend on iphone Full credit line – Courtesy of Luke Pell

Courtesy of Luke Pell

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

When it comes to married life, Pell and Mertz have a lot to look forward to.

The Bachelor Winter Games alum, who currently works in commercial real estate, confirms that they both want to start a family someday. But he's "most excited" about being able to journey through life alongside Mertz.

"You know, you're on the same team and you really start to feel that as you're committing and moving toward marriage and now being engaged," he continues. "We're excited about just taking on life together, I think [that] is the best part."

Adds Pell, "It's a strange thing after you've spent so many years single and used to just solving life's problems as an individual. And then, when you have somebody to help with that, it's just a cool feeling."