20 Strict Rules Contestants On The Bachelor Must Follow
Since ABC’s The Bachelor debuted in 2002, men and women looking for love would sign up for the show in the hopes of finding their happily ever after. But on top of their quest for love and romance, all contestants have to follow a strict set of rules created by the show’s producers.
Before we begin looking at the crazy rules on The Bachelor, be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss out on new posts and videos!
You can’t tell anyone you’ve been cast.
The idea of being part of one of TV’s most iconic reality shows is something that would be exciting for most contestants. However, you can hold your excitement as the producers will make you sign a non-disclosure agreement that prohibits you from telling anyone you have been cast for the show.
This is a tricky situation for the female contestants on the show because it would be difficult for them to get sponsorship for the dresses they will wear on TV, given that they can’t publicize that they have been cast yet until after the show has aired.
According to Season 22 contestant Chelsea Roy:
“We sign a big NDA [nondisclosure] agreement where we're not allowed to tell anyone that we've been cast and we're going to start filming the show. I was able to reach out to a couple of people, local people, and say, 'I would like to support your store in exchange for some exposure in the next few months.”
If you’re planning to be on the show, it’s important to read the fine print and keep mum about actually being on the show – no matter how exciting it may seem!
All contestants must undergo extreme physical and psychological testing.
For a reality TV show that involves a lot of romance and drama, producers know that not everyone is cut out for it. Along with making sure that you have the right wardrobe, you must have the physical and mental fortitude to be on the show.
One of the eligibility requirements for all contestants set to appear on The Bachelor is that they must undergo extreme physical and psychological testing. All of these tests will be conducted in Los Angeles. According to a staff member of the show, contestants need to answer an 800-question psyche evaluation in order to be cast. Dr. Catherine Selden is the one who conducts the evaluation of contestants on the show, wherein she says:
“We want to make sure that people are going to be OK with coping with the stress involved, and make sure that they are going to be offered the help that they need if it's the case.”
In addition, all contestants must submit to a background check. For the physical testing, former contestants have spilled out details that they were also subject to STD testing.
According to former Season 17 The Bachelor contestant Leslie Hughes, the tests were “crazy”. While this might sound invasive, it makes sense knowing that The Bachelor spends time with multiple people in the fantasy suite. Better to be safe than sorry!
Make it seem like a close race.
If you’ve watched The Bachelor before, then you know that they like to keep things dramatic for the viewers. It seems as though this was by design. According to former contestants, especially the bachelors that have been on the show, they have been instructed to make it seem like a close race when it comes to the rose ceremony.
The bachelor must appear as though he is having a super tough time making a decision – and that means even if they have an obvious selection, they must withdraw affection.
A good example of this is when Trista Rehn, a former Season 1 Bachelor contestant, became the first-ever Bachelorette. In the finale, she had to choose between Ryan Sutter and Charlie Maher for the finale. She eventually ended up choosing Ryan Sutter and they both got married with two kids today. But according to Trista, she had to act as if she was torn between the two in order to add excitement to the finale. However, she already made up her mind.
You are cut off from the rest of the world.
Being on The Bachelor might seem like one grand vacation for a lot of women. Apparently, this isn’t the case. Once the women are sent to the mansion they are supposed to live in for a few weeks throughout the duration of the show’s filming, they are cut off from the rest of the world. Contestants won’t be able to stay connected with their friends, family, and loved ones. They don’t have access to the internet, their phones, and other gadgets.
In fact, watching TV or news is not allowed in the mansion either, as well as reading magazines. According to former The Bachelor contestants, the only sanctioned activities at the mansion include playing games, music, and cooking.
No eating on dinner dates.
In real life, it’s completely okay to enjoy your meal during a dinner date. Apparently, this isn’t the case with The Bachelor. If you’re wondering why plates of food go uneaten on the show, it’s not because the contestants are deeply enchanted with each other. The show producers have included it in their list of strict rules that no eating is allowed on dinner dates.
Sean Lowe from Season 17 of The Bachelor has cited eating is not allowed by producers because it is ugly. The viewers don’t want to see people eat. At the same time, the mic will pick up on any chewing that you do during dinner dates.
Don’t feel bad about the contestants, though. The producers make sure to bring them to a hotel wherein they can have a meal prior to the dinner date. This is also where they can shower and get ready. By the time of the dinner date, the contestants are already full so that they won’t bother with the food.
And speaking of food, former contestant Ashley Spivey spills some details on how they prepare meals at the mansion. She says:
“We were responsible for making all of our meals in the house ... Dinner would be prepared by whoever felt like cooking for everyone.”
All contestants must be available for the show and press appearances.
Once selected to appear on The Bachelor, contestants are expected to become available for any of the show’s press activities for a period of 6 months to a year. The producers have the final say when it comes to the contestants’ schedule. Thus, everyone is obligated to appear on the show and any other promotional activities that would follow upon its airing.
The expectation of time commitment is difficult on the personal lives and careers of the contestants. Most contestants have to take a leave of absence or quit their job in order to appear on the show.
Former Bachelor Chris Soules details about his experience after appearing on the show:
“[The producers] have a say in almost everything you do afterwards.”
Producers will make contestants re-shoot certain scenes.
As you may know by now, reality TV isn’t nearly as authentic as it might appear. Even though contestants are followed by cameras 24/7, there are moments that are not perfectly captured, such as when the lighting is not right. Contestants agree to have every moment of their lives while on The Bachelor filmed and this includes re-shooting some of the scenes that were not perfectly captured, for the sake of TV.
In some cases, it takes multiple re-shoots in order to get the perfect shot. Continuity is an important part of the show to make it seem realistic. Because of this, contestants might have to wear the same clothes or re-do their makeup in order to make the re-shoot as realistic as possible.
Sean Lowe, season 17 bachelor, claims that there was one particular word that the producers hated - ‘process’. Any mention of this word will prompt them to re-shoot the entire scene. Instead of saying ‘process’, the producers insisted they use the word ‘journey’ instead.
Contestants are being filmed 24/7 – and there are hidden cameras and mics, too.
Privacy is out the door when contestants are cast to appear on The Bachelor. This is part of the rules that you must agree on when you decide to be on the show. Every contestant is under the glare of a camera on a 24/7 basis. In fact, the only time contestants are allowed to remove their mics are when they go to bed and they have to put it on as soon as they wake up.
The producers reassure the contestants, however, that nothing embarrassing will be captured in the bathroom. According to a former contestant, Leslie Hughes:
“[The cameras] are on you all the time ... As soon as you wake up in the morning, your mic is put on you ... When you go to bed, it's taken off.”
The only time when cameras are off-limits is when they win a fantasy suite with the bachelor. For everything else, contestants can expect that there will be a camera watching their every move.
Can’t say no to dates.
Planning dates is another thing that contestants of The Bachelor have no control over. Those date cards are not created by the contestants, but rather by the producers of the show. As part of the agreement of being on the show, contestants cannot turn down any of these date ideas – no matter how ridiculous they may seem. Dating in real life might involve risks but this meaning takes on a whole new level once you get on the show.
In fact, contestants are made to sign a waiver upon agreeing to be on the show that these dates could expose them to serious injury, illness or disease, and/or property damage. One of the recent bachelors on the show, Peter Weber, himself was not spared either. While filming the show on a golf course, he suffered from a freak accident that split open his face. It required a few stitches that temporarily halted production. However, production soon continued once he recovered. This news was confirmed by The Bachelor host Chris Harrison in an interview with Us magazine.
In season 16 of The Bachelor, the contestants were made to wear bikinis while snow skiing in San Francisco. This looked like a recipe for disaster. Aside from the dangers of downhill skiing, a wardrobe malfunction is also bound to happen (and it did, poor Kacie).
You’re only allowed to bring max two suitcases.
This is one of the biggest fashion debacles that contestants of The Bachelor must face – they have to carry several weeks’ worth of clothing into two suitcases! The complete details of this particular dilemma were discussed by former contestant Andi Dorfman in her tell-all book, “It’s Not Okay: Turning Heartbreak into Happily Ever After”.
This might not seem like such a big deal but you have to consider the fact that the women have to do their own styling, makeup, and hair. On top of that, they need to pack everything they could possibly need for all kinds of weather and occasion, including the formal wear in the rose ceremony!
With that said, all of the clothes that the contestants wear on the show are theirs. ABC isn’t footing the bill as far as clothes are concerned. One former contestant confesses to taking out a second mortgage in her home in order to buy $8,000 worth of clothes for the show. Meanwhile, another cast member, Bekah Martinez, also spent the same amount on shoes and makeup alone.
There is an age limit to be on the show.
If you want to be cast on The Bachelor, you have to meet the show’s eligibility requirements in terms of age limit. There are many spin offs to The Bachelor franchise, as well as different versions for various countries and they all vary in terms of the age limit of contestants.
In the US version, the contestants have to be at least 21 years old to be on the show. The average age of female contestants is at 26. For the men, they have to be anywhere from 23 to 35 years old with the average age at 28.
The contestants must be single.
It might seem like an obvious requirement to appear on a dating show but The Bachelor is pretty stern on this rule. Anyone who is separated or going through the process of divorce is a no-no for the show. Contestants who are also living with a romantic partner or in a monogamous relationship are also not eligible.
But even though the show is pretty strict about this rule, there have been a few reports in the past of contestants being in a relationship prior to filming the show. Tayshia Adams, a contestant for The Bachelor season 23, was reportedly dating an ex right before she left to film the show. In fact, there were supposed talks of marriage.
Contestants are not paid at all.
One of the most common misconceptions that the audience might have about appearing on a hit show such as The Bachelor is that the contestants are making big bucks out of it. This might be true for The Bachelor who is paid approximately $100,000 per season, but for the contestants, they get zero dollars.
This is especially surprising given the fact that contestants are expected to arrive at the mansion with a full wardrobe of outfits and be away from home for several weeks. Contestants were only given goodie bags with a few items upon arrival, some of which didn’t even fit, says one of the former contestants.
This particular rule hurts even more knowing that the contestants spend a lot of money for their clothes and other personal items. Aside from former contestant Jillian Harris having to re-mortgage her house, Olivia Cardi - a season 16 contestant - was also rumored to have spent over $40,000 on her wardrobe on the show.
Contestants must remain single… until the final interview airs.
In order to keep the audience engaged, the producers do their best to keep the winning contestant a secret from the public. In doing so, they have to keep the losing contestants a secret, too.
As a result, contestants of the show are contractually obligated not to date anyone until the final exit interview airs. This is to ensure that the audience will be kept guessing as to who won the final rose at the end.
This rule was obviously broken by season 16 Bachelor Ben Flajnik who, despite getting engaged to Courtney Robertson at the finale of their season, was spotted making out with three other women (a month before the finale aired).
The show can edit your footage however they want.
Cameras are rolling on The Bachelor on a 24/7 basis. As part of the show’s contract, producers reserve the right to edit the footage in a way that would fit into the show’s story line. This means they can paint someone as a villain on the show.
One example of this is Catherine Agro from the Season 23 of The Bachelor. During her stint on the show, Agro was confronted by other contestants for seemingly monopolizing her time with The Bachelor. Other contestants found this annoying, leading to several confrontations and Agro claiming that the show depicted her unfairly with its editing.
This isn’t just the case of painting contestants as villains. The footage can be used on the show’s final cut, even if it is embarrassing, humiliating, or derogatory.
The Rose Ceremony takes hours to shoot.
The Rose Ceremony is one of the most anticipated moments in every episode of The Bachelor. While it might be exciting and dramatic for the fans, it can be the most exhausting for the contestants as it takes hours to shoot.
All contestants have to show up to the Rose Ceremony. It is mandatory as per their contract on the show. The actual events are far more complicated than it appears on the show. Former Bachelor Sean Lowe spills details about what actually transpires at the ceremony, saying that for every rose that is handed out, all cameras have to reposition themselves so it drags out the entire process.
This explains why the shot of the rose ceremony transitions from night to day. At one time, the rose ceremony concluded at 7 in the morning the next day, although most times they concluded the shoot at around 3 or 4 am.
The show has a two-drink rule.
Don’t expect to booze it up while on The Bachelor. This rule was implemented on the show following a scandalous incident that involved a drunken hookup between two contestants for one of The Bachelor’s spin-off shows, Bachelor in Paradise.
After hearing about the incident, Warner Bros. Studio, the studio that produces the series, concluded that it will not support nor tolerate any charge of misconduct by cast member/s. This was despite the fact that the contestants involved claim it was consensual.
For this reason, a “two drink per hour maximum” rule was imposed on the show to avoid any unwanted drunken behavior.
Contestants are not allowed to interact off-camera.
There is a reason why the 24/7 camera rule exists on The Bachelor – the producers don’t want to miss anything! Any second of interaction must be captured on camera, which is why any form of off-camera interaction is not allowed on the show. This is one of the ironclad rules that the producers have.
Sean Lowe in the 17th season of The Bachelor detailed about this in his book, For the Right Reasons. He claims that producers are strict about making sure no interactions are done while the camera isn’t rolling on them to ensure that they capture every significant moment for the show.
Contestants have to stay mum about the details of the show… or it will cost them.
Got an extra $5 mil in the bank? Unless they do, contestants have no choice but to keep mum about the details of the show. All contestants have to sign as part of the non-disclosure agreement into a contract that requires them to pay $5 million if they reveal any details of the show, especially its outcome, prior to the airing of the finale.
In some cases, the final couple is even whisked off somewhere as soon as filming ends. This is in order for them to see each other in secret and be able to maintain their relationship until such time when the finale airs.
Ali Fedotowksy, a former contestant of The Bachelor, reveals:
“The producers really do everything they can to help the couple see each other and help keep the relationship strong during the tough few months when the show is airing.”
In Season 11, The Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe broke this particular rule. She spilled a major spoiler on her snapchat when she posted a video of herself and a contestant, Sean Booth, (presumably the winner of her season) cuddling. This spoiled the entire season for the audience. Luckily, she got away with the $5 million lawsuit.
Contestants must stay together for two years… or they have to return the ring.
In preparation for the final rose ceremony, the audience are left in awe as they watch the bachelor choose a giant ring in order to romantically propose to the woman of his choice. As romantic as that might seem, not all couples end up being together. Most of them would call off their engagement immediately after the finale airs. So, what happens to the sparkling gem?
According to Jesse Csincsak, a former Bachelor, the contract states that if you don’t stay together for at least two years after the finale, then you have to give the ring back. Yes, that’s right – that expensive Neil Lane diamond engagement ring must be given back to the producers. It’s a big deal knowing that the ring could cost anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000!
For couples who manage to stay together for two years, they don’t have to be married in order to keep the ring, though. The good news is that quite a few The Bachelor couples remain together to this day (as of February 2020). Some of these couples include Trista and Ryan Sutter, who met in the first-ever season of The Bachelorette (she previously competed in The Bachelor). They got married in a televised ceremony in 2003 and are currently living in Colorado with two kids.
Then, there is Ashley Hebert who chose JP Rosenbaum in season 7 of The Bachelorette. The pair also got married in a TV special in December 2012. They, too, have two kids. Then in season 17 bachelor Sean Lowe, who tied the knot in the series’ first-ever live TV wedding in 2014 with Catherine Giudici. The couple now has three children and are living in Dallas, Texas.
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