The secret is out: Kaitlyn Bristowe and Shawn Booth are engaged, and they couldn't be happier to finally go public with their relationship.
"We get to share it with the world now," The Bachelorette star, 30, tells PEOPLE exclusively. "Night one, Shawn gave me the feeling I was looking for. And now outside of [the show], I'm still like, 'I can't wait to be with this guy.' "
Not that their journey to love was without a few bumps and bruises.
"It was so tough because obviously I wanted to spend as much time with Kaitlyn as possible," says Booth, 29. "The hardest part was being on group dates, hearing her laugh with someone else. That was heart-wrenching, like, 'Oh man, I want to be there.' "
Adds Bristowe: "It's not like I hated hanging out with the other guys or I didn't enjoy going on dates. But I always came out of it thinking about Shawn. He was always the one."
So the couple found little ways to communicate during filming, even if that meant sneaking around.
"Nobody knows this, but we passed notes on the show all the time," Bristowe says. "It was so fun to pass notes about the little things like this is my favorite Ninja turtle or this is my favorite movie, because on camera, it's always the bigger picture. And we saved every little thing from our dates. I didn't save anything from the other dates, not one thing!"
"We had to be secretive," Booth says. "My notes would be like, 'This is crazy, I miss you,' or fun facts about me."
Bristowe admits she broke the rules a few more times, telling Booth he was the one on an off-camera overnight visit and saying those three little words after she met his parents. ("I accidentally slipped!" she says).
They might not plan on filling their marital home with red roses, but Bristowe and Booth have no regrets about their journey to find love.
"There have been hurdles and blips because that's the show," Bristowe says. "But everything that's happened has made us so strong. Every day, I'm just like, 'I picked the right guy.' "
For much more from Kaitlyn and Shawn, including exclusive photos, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday