From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
The Bachelor's Sean & Catherine

It's not every day that a man proposes to the love of his life on national television, so one can perhaps forgive Sean Lowe for getting a little ahead of himself when he popped the question to Catherine Giudici. "I wanted to tell her why I fell in love with her and why I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, but I got so excited that I rushed it," the Bachelor star recalls. "I probably should have spent more time on it, but honestly, I couldn't wait to get down on one knee and ask her to marry me!"

As the more than 9 million people who viewed the romantic proposal in Thailand now know, she said yes. But for all that rushing to "will you?," the wait until "I do" might seem particularly torturous. Lowe, 29, a Dallas-based entrepreneur, and his bride-to-be, 26, a graphic designer from Seattle, have vowed to wait until their wedding day to consummate their relationship. For Lowe, a conservative Christian and "born-again" virgin who has abstained from sex since college, the decision reflects long-held religious beliefs. Still, he's hopeful that the wait won't be too long. "I'm a guy," he says with a laugh. "If it were up to me, I'd go to the courthouse tomorrow and it would be a done deal!" The pair sat down with PEOPLE to talk about their unconventional path to the altar.

Their Road to Romance

Congratulations! Does it feel real yet?

SEAN: I don't think it's hit me yet— not until we can go out to dinner as a couple and just be normal.

CATHERINE: I just want to hold his hand in public!

When did you each know you had found The One?

SEAN: The turning point for us was our first kiss. I knew she fit the friend mold, and once I found there was romance, I thought, "All right, this could work."

CATHERINE: For me, it was our date on the glacier in Canada.

SEAN: My eyelashes froze. I looked like Frosty the Snowman!

CATHERINE: I could see what he would look like as an old man!

Tell us about the week leading up to the proposal. Were you really unsure about who to choose, Sean?

SEAN: I loved Lindsay [Yenter, the second-to-last contestant] for the person she is, but I was in love with Catherine. The hardest part was knowing that Lindsay thought she would get engaged that day, and instead I was about to break her heart.

Catherine, did you have any doubts?

CATHERINE: Walking down that path, I knew I was going into something that was going to make me happy. We had a strong connection. I trusted him. I knew whatever decision he made was going to be best for both of us.

Sean, you have been called the "virgin Bachelor" because of your decision to save sex for marriage.

SEAN: I don't pay attention to the labels. This attention is just for a short season of my life, so I'm not going to get too stressed out about it.

Why is abstinence important to you?

SEAN: I lived life kind of selfishly for a long time, and I reached a point where I was tired of being selfish. I wanted to live my life the way I know it to be right. It's a personal choice for me.

Catherine, how do you feel about his beliefs?

CATHERINE: I honor him.

Speaking of marriage, what are your plans for the wedding?

SEAN: We've kicked around some ideas. It could be this summer. We talked about an outdoor wedding in the L.A. area. I think that will be fun. We want it to be a big party!

CATHERINE: It's daunting, the whole concept of it. We can finally be engaged in public. That's the first step. Then the wedding plans.

You've said you'll televise the nuptials ...

SEAN: I think it's only fitting. Our relationship was started and created on TV, so we could solidify it there as well.

Sean, did you ever doubt the process while you were dating these women? One woman, Tierra LiCausi, wreaked a lot of havoc.

SEAN: [Our trip to] Montana was a tough week. The girls were all worried about the Tierra drama and not on building a relationship with me. I thought, I gave up my life in Dallas for this and I was wasting my time. But obviously I turned that around!

Did Tierra deserve her bad-girl reputation?

SEAN: She honestly just can't get along with her peers. But she's not an evil person. She was mean at times, but she's not evil.

At "The Women Tell All" special, your second-runner-up, AshLee, claimed you told her you didn't have feelings for Catherine and Lindsay.

SEAN: I was flabbergasted! That statement is ridiculous and clearly not true. She might have misconstrued something I said. Maybe that's what her brain took in, but I didn't say that.

Do you feel you misled any of the women on the show?

SEAN: There comes a point when you have to talk about the future, especially with the final three. Yeah, I'm going to talk with AshLee about where she might live, and I'll talk with Lindsay about what kind of career she could pursue in Dallas. Those are just conversations you have to have. It made me empathize a lot more with Emily Maynard [who sent him home on The Bachelorette last summer].

Catherine, is it hard for you to watch the show and see Sean being affectionate with other women?

CATHERINE: Surprisingly, it hasn't registered for me in that way. It's weird how normal it's all been.

SEAN: She's handled it so well. She knows that everything I went through led me to her, so she keeps it all in perspective.

CATHERINE: I never saw it as a competition. I saw it as: Whomever he saw as his match, it was going to work. I wasn't going to push it on him.

What were the moments that made you realize you were falling in love?

CATHERINE: We would speak French to each other. We don't actually speak French, but we'd speak in French accents.

SEAN: We'd say words like "baguette" and "bicyclette."

CATHERINE: And "boulangerie!"

SEAN: And we always talked about going to Snugglesville together.

CATHERINE: We just wanted to snuggle!

SEAN: On my only flight with the girls, I scratched out the destination city on my ticket and wrote "Snugglesville." As Catherine was walking by, I dropped it in her bag.

CATHERINE: I was like, "Why are you throwing trash in my bag?"

SEAN: I didn't realize that was my ticket for a connecting flight, so she had to give it back!

Catherine, you're vegan, but Sean's a big meat lover. How does that work?

CATHERINE: I'm vegan for my own reasons. He gets to be a man and eat whatever he wants. I don't care.

SEAN: I'm from Texas, so we love meat and barbecue. She's really good about it. When we order out, she finds something that works for her. She never ever complains.

Sean, next up you'll be competing on Dancing with the Stars. Do you have the moves?

SEAN: I'm the head-nod guy when I'm out with my friends. But I'm learning!

CATHERINE: I'll be in the front row. I'm his biggest cheerleader!

Do you think you'll settle down soon?

SEAN: We'll probably move back to Dallas. But life has been so crazy, it's really hard to plan!

Do you want to start a family soon?

SEAN: We want to move around a little while we're newly married and enjoy that first.

CATHERINE: Having kids is something that we have to take really seriously. We have to be ready.

How many children do you want?

CATHERINE: At least two.

SEAN: Maybe three. And we've talked about adopting. I'm enjoying just being an uncle right now. I can wait on becoming a dad.

Why do you think you work so well together as a couple?

CATHERINE: We're curious people. We love learning.

SEAN: We're both kind of nerdy!

CATHERINE: I've just never been able to open up to anybody the way I have with him. He's a man, but he's so compassionate. The full package.

SEAN: It's so natural for me to be with Catherine. She's my best friend. When we're together, we know it's right.