11:12am PT by Jackie Strause
JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers Talk Wedding and Rumors: "We Don't Want to Have to Defend Ourselves"
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Season 12 finale of ABC's The Bachelorette.]
JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers agree: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
The Bachelorette star and her brand-new fiance, who proposed with a 3-carat diamond engagement ring on Monday night's finale, continued to open up about the negative rumors that have plagued them when they spoke to press on Tuesday.
"We don't want to have to defend ourselves," JoJo told The Hollywood Reporter. "Now that we're able to be together, our relationship in itself will speak volumes and that's what we're looking forward to."
Forced into hiding to keep the status of their relationship a secret until the Aug. 1 airing of the ABC finale, JoJo, 25, a real estate agent from Dallas, and Jordan, 27, a former pro football player, mainly relied on phone conversations to get them through having to stay silent amid harsh tabloid stories. The latest, says JoJo, claims that the pair had broken up.
"It was tough," she said. "You go from this high of being engaged and madly in love to being separated and torn apart and having to face an overwhelming amount of scrutiny. It was so hard."
She continued, "Thankfully we had each other to call, but that was it. We leaned on each other and there were so many nights I would cry myself to sleep from being overwhelmed and he would just talk to me all night so I was ok. Throughout that whole thing, our communication got so much better and it made our relationship what it is today."
In the last two months, "we've grown a ton," added Jordan, who said they've seen each other "here and there," thanks to use of the show's approved safe houses. "And we're so excited for this next chapter of our life that we can share with everybody — not just our closest family and friends that we've entrusted this secret to."
On camera, JoJo was forced to confront Jordan about rumors that he had cheated in a past relationship. On Monday's After the Final Rose special, host Chris Harrison aired magazine covers that hit the pair off-camera that called Jordan a "fraud."
"There’s been a lot of harsh and very untrue allegations along the way," said Jordan. "Any of that is so not true that it’s not even worth time to [address], I’m just happy to start life with my new fiancee."
Jordan's estranged relationship with his brother, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, has also been a constant topic throughout the season, and something that Harrison continued to press the couple on Monday night. Though JoJo revealed that she still hasn't met Aaron, Jordan said on Tuesday that his brother will get an invite to their upcoming wedding — a response that happily surprised JoJo.
"There's no scenario in which I wouldn’t want my entire family at a wedding," said Jordan, who recently landed a TV gig as a college football studio analyst at ESPN's SEC Network. "That’s what our whole family wants and hopes for, at some point. It's going to be a good wedding, there's going to be a lot of people there!"
Jordan, who was a quarterback at Vanderbilt from 2010-2012, starts his new job providing college football commentary Aug. 23 on SEC Now.
Though the pair is only in the beginning stages of planning, they said they've thrown around dates for next year and would be open to televising the nuptials "if it all makes sense," said JoJo. For now, the pair's first move will be to their new home in downtown Dallas where they can "get back to some sense of normalcy" as Jordan, who has never been, gets settled in JoJo's hometown in Texas. They have furniture to buy and Jordan still has to meet JoJo's dog, Jackson.
As for whether or not they would be open to following in JoJo's ex's footsteps — Ben Higgins and his fiancee Lauren Bushnell will be premiering a spinoff reality show on Freeform in the fall — JoJo also left the door open.
"Right now we’re just so excited about the immediate future of getting to Dallas and moving in," she said. "Whatever comes our way is something we’ll discuss and we’ll just see what works best for us and our relationship."
But one thing they do know for sure? "We absolutely want kids," said JoJo, who has also said she plans to take the Rodgers family name. "I have this vision that by 30 I’ll have kids, that gives me five years and enough time to start figuring it out."
Jordan was the frontrunner on season 12 of The Bachelorette — he even nabbed the coveted "first impression rose" on the first night — but Monday's finale featured a torn JoJo debating her final choice up until the final moments. After admitting that she had fallen in love with both of her final two men, Jordan and runner up Robby Hayes, Robby was blindsided when JoJo stopped him mid-proposal.
"Every day, I've been wanting it to be you," she told him in tears. "I fell in love with you but for some reason, my heart is somewhere else."
Robby, a former competitive swimmer, also spoke to press on Tuesday, saying that he hopes JoJo picked the right guy: "I'm hoping this lasts for her because I want to see her happy."
As for whether or not he would be open to returning to the franchise as the next Bachelor (currently, JoJo's other finalists Luke Pell and Chase McNary appear to be in the lead for the gig, according to the fan reaction), he said, "It's definitely something that's crossed my mind."
Adding. "The reason I'm definitely open to it is I know this journey works. It worked for me last season with Jo, and I have no doubt it could work for me again."
However, he said he'd have to sit down and talk to his family, since his experience on The Bachelorette put them through the ringer: "They stressed a lot about it this season and I can't imagine if I was the Bachelor."
When Robby, 27, reunited with JoJo on After the Final Rose, he confronted her for the first time since their breakup. "You said a lot of things that made me feel like it should have been us," he said, looking for closure. JoJo, however, told him she was "madly in love" with Jordan and "just couldn't ever imagine saying goodbye to him."
Would Robby be ready to find love again in only a few months? (The Bachelor airs in December and begins shooting months prior.)
"I've been fortunate enough to be spending a lot of time with my family, they really helped me get my feet back under me," he told THR about living at home since the show has wrapped. "[On ATFR], you saw me get that closure, so I definitely think I'd be ready."
Aug. 2, 4 p.m. PT: Updated with SEC Now details