If you know who Jade and Tanner Tolbert are, then you’re a member of a huge club founded circa 2000: Bachelor Nation.
If you are a member of Bachelor Nation, you’re probably keeping your eyes peeled for Jade and Tanner sightings, phone charged for the perfect selfie opportunity.
If you’re a member of Bachelor Nation, you’ve probably tried explaining the brilliance of the #Janner love story to a friend or loved one, only to give up on the myriad intricacies.
And if you’re not a member of Bachelor Nation, buckle up, because the franchise’s most recent newlyweds live in KC, and they’re making the most of their 15 minutes.
Within the span of only four weeks, Jade Roper and Tanner Tolbert met, fell in love and got engaged on “Bachelor in Paradise 2,” a spinoff of ABC’s “The Bachelor.” Tanner, who grew up in Overland Park, was originally a contender on Kaitlyn Bristowe’s season of “The Bachelorette,” and Jade made it all the way to the final four of “The Bachelor” with Chris Soules. All three shows aired in 2015.
The Tolberts’ California nuptials were aired on an ABC Valentine’s Day special celebrating 20 seasons of “The Bachelor.”
This was only nine months after their first meeting.
All that, of course, isn’t news to #Janner fans. But Ink recently caught up with Jade and Tanner at their dining room table to chat about life behind-the-scenes, all things wedding, Bachelor Nation and life in KC.
The stuff you didn’t see
(The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.)
Q: Tell me about falling in love on TV.
Jade: What they didn’t show (on TV) is that Tanner actually kissed me on the first night. He pulled me aside and said, “I’m only here to get to know you.”
Tanner: I think it’s important that we hit it off soon because there’s such a limited amount of time that if we didn’t hit it off Day 1, there wouldn’t have been time to get to any sort of next level, let alone an engagement. … It was crazy enough (to get engaged) even though we did hit it off right then.
Q: How did you know that you had found “the one” and that the feelings went beyond the reality show?
T: I genuinely cared about her, where I probably hadn’t about past flings or relationships. I was just really happy. It moved quick and — this sounds cliche — but when you spend every day (together), it is packing months of dating into weeks. There was a moment like halfway through where I just knew I wanted to pursue (the relationship) after “Paradise.” I didn’t know at that time that I was going to propose, by any means. I don’t think I knew that until the day before.
J: Tanner doesn’t do anything unless he wants to, so I knew he wasn’t feeling the pressure from the producers to (propose) because they needed a happy ending. If he was going to do it, then I knew he genuinely meant it, so that gave me the trust to know that it was real.
Q: How did you decide to do the televised wedding?
T: The producers approached us about it.
J: You want (the wedding) to be a very intimate moment in your life, and you want it to feel as normal as possible. (The producers) reassured me of that. If my family was still going to be there, and I’m still going to be able to share that, then why not?
T: We just wanted it to feel like a real wedding. We were there for Marcus and Lacy’s wedding (Note: Marcus Grodd and Lacy Faddoul were married on Episode 1 of “Bachelor in Paradise 2” after meeting and falling in love on “BIP 1.” Clear to you non-“Bachelor” fans? Good.), and it didn’t feel real. There were more random cast members than there were family members.
Q: Best part of getting married on TV?
T: The lack of a bill was nice. Seriously, though, they did it up right. We could never have planned something that extravagant.
J: It was my dream wedding. It was immaculate. … We’ll have it on tape for us to see in a very special way for all of our lives, which is really cool.
Q: How did it feel to share your vows, knowing that all of Bachelor Nation would be watching?
T: It added (jitters) for me. It’s one thing to know that you’re speaking up in front of an audience, let alone with the cameras right there.
J: I was very nervous and very aware beforehand, like in the months leading up. We were so lucky it wasn’t live! But during the ceremony, I just had this really strange moment of clarity. I wasn’t even aware of any of the cameras or anything. It just felt like me and Tanner and Chris Harrison. (Note: Harrison is the host of all of the “Bachelor” shows, and he performed the Tolberts’ ceremony.)
Q: What got left on the cutting room floor?
T: Little bits of our vows didn’t make it on air, and I wish I had seen more of the reception, like the speeches.
J: A lot of our family was excited, they were hoping to see themselves on TV, and (the show) was more about the “Bachelor” alumni. I wish they would have shown more of our story, who we are, and who our family is.
T: They did a bunch of filming here in town, and they didn’t use a lick of it.
Q: How many of the “Bachelor” alums who were guests at the wedding had you never met?
T: We’d met everyone from the past couple seasons, but not the ones prior.
J: I used to watch “The Bachelor” with my mom, and I had the biggest crush on Andrew Firestone (Bachelor No. 3, 2003), so seeing him and Bob Guiney (Bachelor No. 4, 2003 ) was super exciting for me.
Q: Was there drama, getting that many “Bachelor” alums in one room?
T: Lots of weird love triangles, but no real drama.
J: People thought it might be weird for you and me with Chris Soules being there, but he was actually really a stand-up guy, was really respectful.
T: Me and Chris hung out until 3 a.m. a few nights before the wedding. No weirdness there. I don’t think JJ and Shawn (Note: who feuded on Kaitlyn’s season of “The Bachelorette”) like each other, per se, but they didn’t have any drama.
J: They have their social graces.
Q: Ashley Iaconetti, also from Chris Soules’ season of “The Bachelor” and “BIP 2,” had a crying breakdown (for which she is famous in Bachelor Nation) at the very end of the Tolberts’ wedding episode after Jared Haibon (from Kaitlyn’s “The Bachelorette” and “BIP 2”) rejected her for the dozenth time. How did it feel for the episode to end that way?
J: I felt really bad for her. Did they really need to throw that in again? The poor girl has been beaten to death with that.
T: There was a whole season of (her crying)! You cut out some of our vows for that?
J: We wished it would have ended on a more romantic note.
T: But maybe they’re leading up to something for “Paradise” (“Bachelor in Paradise 3,” which will probably air this summer). I could see them both being cast again.
Ben Higgins for president
The current “Bachelor” — his finale airs March 14 — attended the Tolbert wedding. Ben Higgins and Tanner met on Kaitlyn’s season of “The Bachelorette,” and Tanner said they were close during filming. Tanner said he has liked watching this season and yes, Ben is that nice in real life.
“He never does anything wrong,” he said.
“He should run for president,” Jade added. (You heard it here first, people: #Higgins2032)
While Jade and Tanner don’t know which woman Ben chooses, they will confirm that he is with someone and, “he seems very happy,” Tanner said.
“We don’t know who,” Jade said. “He won’t talk. He’s really good at keeping his secrets.”
Life without cameras
The Tolberts are still figuring out what life together looks like: Jade moved from L.A. to Olathe (after a brief layover in Nashville) just last September. And the time between then and now has been a whirlwind of wedding planning and travel, leaving very little time for KC exploration.
When he’s not appearing on reality TV, Tanner works 50-plus hours each week as the general sales manager at Legends Toyota. When he gets time off, the Tolberts treasure it. They’re often busy taking meetings with their builder (they’re designing a house in the Stilwell area) or shooting photos for the branded content they post on social media. Recently, they posted Snapchats and Instagram photos for Taco Bell’s new quesalupa.
With Tanner’s demanding schedule, the newlyweds have had to turn down a few fun opportunities, like taking over the Snapchat account for a company — they won’t say who — during a Disneyland visit.
When they have spare time, they love going to brunch at the Bristol Seafood Grill in Leawood, hitting up local sporting events, seeing a movie and taking trips to the dog park with their pup Pippa, a 3 1/2 year-old Boston terrier.
Jade, who went to culinary school for baking, loves trying different restaurants, while Tanner lists chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Chipotle among his favorites.
“Our food tastes are completely different,” Jade said. “Normally I cave, but I’m trying to broaden his horizons.”
They’re still looking forward to finding their favorites around the city. They’ve spent so much time traveling for “Bachelor” gigs, but that’s winding down, and they’ll be home more often.
“I can’t wait until it’s warm,” Jade said. “I love outdoor activities.”
No matter what they’re doing, the Tolberts have to prepare themselves for selfies.
Tanner said he went to Hot Country Nights at the Power & Light District soon after his season of “The Bachelorette” began airing and, “I took probably 150 pictures.”
Agreeing to one picture can quickly escalate the situation.
“It’s the domino effect,” Jade said. “One person thinks they might know you, and as soon as they see someone else take a picture with you, it’s over.” Airports are where they take the most photos.
Tanner prefers that fans come up and ask for a picture rather than pulling this move:
“You’re at the airport, you’re just standing there, and then you check your Twitter like 10 minutes later, and someone took your picture while you’re just standing there and you didn’t even notice,” he said.
Fans have even come to his work.
“This little grandma brought us embroidered towels that said ‘Tanner loves Jade,’ ” Jade said.
Tanner is fine with visitors at work, but not so fine with another type of fan:
“People will sit in the cul-de-sac and take pictures of the house and tweet, like, ‘we’re here!’ ” Tanner said. “Come to work all day, I’m fine with that. Just don’t come to my doorstep.”
Overall, they’re enjoying the attention and know that it will be gone soon.
“It’s kind of fun to have people care about our relationship,” Tanner said.
“It’s a really unique time in our life,” Jade said. “We know that it’s 15 minutes of fame, and it’s not going to last forever. People come up and cry …”
“And shake and freak out,” Tanner interjected.
“And they say they’re inspired and they say, ‘You make me believe in love again,’ and that’s really cool,” she said.
Jade reveals powerful essay about sexual assault
Buoyed by Lady Gaga’s emotional performance of “Til It Happens to You” at the Academy Awards on Sunday, Jade Tolbert revealed on Monday that she was raped as a teenager.
In a post titled “Why Lady Gaga’s Performance Was the Most Important Part of the Oscars” on her blog, “Burn Bright, Love,” she wrote:
“I was raped just shy of my 17th birthday. My high school years were very hard for me, I had a lot of problems at home; and the way I tried to be normal and forget about my life was to party with my friends …”
She also reveals that she didn’t tell her parents about it. “My family was really good at sweeping issues under the rug.”
She concludes with, “This happened to me and it matters. I matter. And I am worthy of love. The Lady GaGa performance gave me the courage to speak about my story, a story that’s been trapped inside me for over 12 years. I hope that sharing my experience will help girls and women know that they are not alone. And that you have to voice things in order for things to change. And always always always: You matter.”
Tolbert tweeted out her story, which received a tweet back from Lady Gaga: “@jadelizroper you are a warrior thank you #TilItHappensToYou”