By Jodi Walker
Updated February 15, 2016 at 04:36 PM EST
Credit: ABC/Matt Petit

Yes, Valentine’s Day is the time for flowers, candles, and romance with the one you love most. But if you’re a true lover of love — and a lover of how much The Bachelor loves itself — then this Sunday, you rejected all other V-Day invitations to sit on the couch and watch The Bachelor at 20: A Celebration of Love.

Whoever had the idea to bring together a bunch of former Bachelor contestants AT a wedding reception ON Valentine’s Day is an evil mastermind of Machiavellian proportions. Sure, we only got 10 minutes of the reception and spent the other 110 on montages. And even if we didn’t get to see who Chris Soules twirled off of that dance floor with at the end of the night or confirmation that Nick Viall and Michelle Money were falling love to the tune of those sweet, sweet Seal melodies, there were still plenty of great moments in the Bachelor mix.

In between remembering the too fast, too furious three-year run that was Bachelor Pad or the actually very sweet and lovely union of Tanner and Jade, ABC did its very best to remind us that this industrialized romance-machine has occasionally worked. Let’s take a look at a few of the celebration’s top moments, a few we could have done without, and some total missed opportunities (why was Jorge the Bartender not there, y’know, bartending!?).

“In their quest for a fairytale ending, some of our Bachelors have found themselves in some of the most dramatic scandals and controversial moments in American television history. —Chris B. Harrison

The Bachelor Goes Meta

In recent years — I’d say since Juan Pablo acted as a human kamikaze to entire franchise — The Bachelor has tried more and more to portray that they’re in on the joke. So among this celebration luuuuv, we also got to see a compilation of famous people talking about how they love to watch the show but only because it’s effin’ nuts. Will Forte and Lea Michele can’t look away, POTUS himself cracked a Bachelor joke at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and Amy Schumer watches because “you’re like, ‘Oh maybe they’ll fall in love,’ but then they’ll just be stressed and humiliated.” See — they’re tooootally in on it, you guys.

The Montages — Oh, the Montages!

The Bachelor at 20 did a lot of celebrating just how beautiful and romantic the franchise’s focus on love is, and at one point they did that by compiling all of the different times Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants have gone down on one knee to propose, all the while knowing that their audience is aware that the large majority of those proposals ended in utter failure (and tabloid fodder). It was a bold move. I loved it.

They Were the Worst of Times, They Were the Best of Times

Let’s face it, no one is into The Bachelor for the romance, we’re in it for the D-R-A-M-A, so all of Sunday night’s best flashbacks were of its most out-of-control moments: Tierra screaming, “I CAN’T CONTROL MY EYEBROW”; Courtney and Ben getting frisky in the ocean; Kaitlyn telling Shawn she had sex with Nick; everything about Jake and Vienna’s screaming, sobbing bench-breakdown; and of course, “The Mesnick,” wherein one tells a woman that he loves her but he loves someone else more, then cries huge regretful sobs because he realizes he just made a huge mistake and is going to have to beg for her to take him back eventually — all of this should be done on a balcony for peak-Mesnick. (Those are all great moments, but where was the clip of that producer jumping off a balcony and breaking both of his ankles to avoid getting caught in Michelle K.’s room on the first season of Bachelor in Paradise?!)

“There’s a lot of love in the Bachelor family… It leads to love; it leads to babies; it leads to marriages. It just creates all of these lifelong friendships. —Ali Fedotowsky

The Casting Tapes

But the best montage was probably the casting-tapes compilation because it featured those fleeting Bachelor stars who may not have gotten invited to The Bachelor at 20 but still deserve to go down in franchise history, like the woman who stuffed her whole fist in her mouth; then there was Andi showing producers how she could make her stomach look pregnant and admitting that she sometimes did that at the grocery store to get better parking; and it ended with a surprisingly sweet visual of the couples that actually have worked out — the real stars of Sunday evening — holding up their little casting cards, looking hopeful, as if they truly were about to find their future spouses.

Checking in with Old Contestants

But before Ashley could meet JP or Sean could meet Catherine, they had to meet and reject 20 or so other people first, and though we spent the majority of the time checking in on success stories Sunday night, we got to see what a few of those rejects are up to, as well. Ashley S. from Chris Soules’ season still wanders into frame like it’s an accident, but since her time on Bachelor in Paradise, she’s gotten married, gotten pregnant, and has nothing but a blank stare in response to Chris Harrison trying to get her to do the math for which came first. Erica Rose, however, is also expecting and happy to tell you that she’s getting the shotgun wedding she’s always dreamed of. Never change, girlfriend.

Bachelor Babies

In fact, The Bachelor at 20 was quite the family affair! Last we saw Ashley and JP, they were having an on-air ultrasound (wow, had forgotten about that), and now they have a precious one year old; Jason and Molly have a little girl named Riley; Ryan and Trista are still going strong with their little ones after 13 years; Des and Chris have been married for 11 months and just got their first house; Kaitlyn and Shawn cook eggs together and alternate between wanting to have four and five kids; and — actual new news! — Sean and Catherine are expecting. Clear a few spots on The Bachelor season 45, Harrison!

This is a celebration of love…but we’re here to party. —Chris Soules

Tanner and Jade Make Their Vows

It was pretty easy to forget that this whole shebang was technically supposed to be for Tanner and Jade’s wedding, considering we didn’t catch a glimpse of them until an hour in. But once they came on the scene, their moment was actually very sweet. They wrote their own vows for each other, and I was already pretty smitten with the couple when Tanner told Jade, “The downs with you are even better than the ups without,” but when homegirl came back with the fact that she had become afraid to fully open herself up to anybody, “that is until I met you… Tanner, you are the love of my life,” I was pretty much a goner. Plus, they both looked so lovely! And there were pyrotechnics!

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Tolbert AND SEAL

And then Seal came out to sing “Kiss From a Rose” for their first dance, and then I briefly wondered if I might be able to go on The Bachelor, get rejected, go on Bachelor in Paradise, fall in love, then have my wedding televised on ABC so that Seal could sing at my wedding reception. But we can probably just let the Tolberts have that bit of magic.

Every Tear, a Memory

But it wouldn’t really be The Bachelor without a healthy dose of heartbreak. In fact, there should have been, like 1,000 percent more airing of dirty laundry at that super-Bachelor reception, but all we really got was the slow unraveling of Ashley I. throughout the night as she tried to pretend that she was fine with just being friends with Jared, then got swept up in the l-u-v of it all, decided she deserved some romance on Jade and Tanner’s day, pulled Jared out on a staircase, and stared at him while he yawned. Shockingly, that was not the move to finally win his heart. Ashley wept that she doesn’t “want to cry on camera anymore,” but considering that The Bachelor at 20 was pretty much the franchise’s promise to keep making this show until the end of time, that might not be Ashley’s choice to make.

See you back here in 20 years for the first second-generation Bachelor/Bachelorette!

Episode Recaps

ABC's "The Bachelor" - Season 22

The Bachelor

Chris Harrison hosts the romance reality competition series in which a gaggle of women vie for the Bachelor’s heart — and a wedding proposal. Will you accept this rose?

  • TV Show
  • 23
  • 232
  • Mike Fleiss
  • ABC
stream service