After Looking for Love on TV, a ‘Bachelor’ Finds His Wife on Instagram


Nick Joseph Viall is used to his dating life being on public display. From 2014 to 2017, he appeared in four seasons of the “Bachelor” franchise: two seasons of “The Bachelorette,” one season of “Bachelor in Paradise” and, finally, “The Bachelor.”

That’s all experience that has helped inform his relationship podcast, “The Viall Files,” and his 2022 book, “Don’t Text Your Ex Happy Birthday: And Other Advice on Love, Sex and Dating.”

But his relationship with Natalie Joy, whom he began dating in 2019, remained out of the public eye for several years. On April 27, the couple exchanged vows on an animal farm in Savannah, Ga.

They met in September 2019, when one of Mr. Viall’s Instagram photos popped up on Ms. Joy’s Explore page. She thought he was attractive, so she decided to send him a cheeky message: “You’re unreal.”

Though he doesn’t usually respond to DMs, Ms. Joy, 25, stood out, he said, adding that he thought she was “a very beautiful woman” and was “intrigued.” They started talking on the phone and texting, but they weren’t sure if they would ever actually cross paths in person. At the time, Mr. Viall, 43, was living in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, and Ms. Joy was living in Savannah, where she grew up.

In October 2019, Mr. Viall traveled to New York for a work engagement. (He had been an account executive at Salesforce before first appearing on “The Bachelorette” in 2014 and eventually transitioning to author, podcast host and media personality.)

Ms. Joy, who had lived in New York for two years after dropping out of high school at 15 to pursue a modeling career, flew to New York as well. The plan was to meet him in person while also catching up with old friends.

They met at the Williamsburg Hotel, had dinner and drinks and walked around Brooklyn. She had such a great time that she spent the whole weekend with him and ended up “ghosting” her friends, she said.

Neither expected much from their weekend together. “Here I was meeting a girl who lives in Savannah,” Mr. Viall said. “She’s meeting some guy who lives in L.A. That’s not necessarily a recipe for starting a relationship per se.”

But he was surprised by how much they connected, and he wanted her to meet two of his closest friends: Sharleen Joynt, a contestant on the 18th season of “The Bachelor,” and her husband, Andy Levine. Mr. Viall has known the couple since 2015, and they ultimately ended up leading the wedding ceremony on Saturday.

“I really value their opinion, and they’re pretty honest friends, so I was curious about what they thought of Natalie,” Mr. Viall said. “And they loved her instantly.”

Ms. Joynt and Mr. Levine remember meeting Ms. Joy over dinner at Ferns, a restaurant in the East Village. Mr. Viall had been their “go-to third wheel,” Ms. Joynt said. They had been an established group of three. But Ms. Joy “was such an effortless addition to our group,” Ms. Joynt said.

About a week later, Ms. Joy accepted an invitation to visit him in Los Angeles. They lounged on the beach in Venice, walked along the boardwalk, and enjoyed each other’s company. They indulged in the day-to-day activities. “It didn’t really matter what we did,” Ms. Joy said.

For the next 10 months, Mr. Viall and Ms. Joy met in Los Angeles, New York or Savannah about once a month.

At first, Ms. Joy leaned into the casual nature of their relationship and decided to just have fun with him. She was being realistic, she said, knowing that they lived far from each other. But as time progressed, she wanted something more serious.

About four months after they started seeing each other, she told him that. “Nick politely declined,” Ms. Joy said. He had been single for a while and was hesitant to enter a relationship. (As for their age difference, Mr. Viall has said that it initially “was something I was self-conscious about.”)

Binge more Vows columns here and read all our wedding, relationship and divorce coverage here.

Nevertheless, Mr. Viall still wanted to spend time with her. “Every time she left, I just always would miss her,” he said.

When the pandemic struck in March 2020, Ms. Joy flew to Los Angeles and stayed with Mr. Viall for a week. It was the most time they had spent together — that week they really got to know each other. “Up to that point, it was always like a weekend here and a weekend there,” Mr. Viall said.

After a week, she decided to return to Savannah, where her family was and where she was working as a surgical technologist for a reconstructive surgeon at Georgia Institute for Plastic Surgery. “I remember being bummed out,” Mr. Viall said.

Ms. Joy was standing her ground. She set boundaries and made sure she wasn’t investing too much time and energy into Mr. Viall, because she knew she wanted a relationship, and he was not offering that to her. But she had a feeling that he would eventually come around.

“I feel like the reason I stuck around for so long is because I genuinely always knew it was him, and I just knew he would come around at some point,” Ms. Joy said. “Every time I was with him, I felt at home. I felt super safe and protected.”

She didn’t wait around for him, though, and she continued to date other people.

One day that summer, he FaceTimed her as she was getting ready for a date, and he asked her what she was getting ready for. She told him the truth. “I didn’t have the right to get mad,” Mr. Viall said. “I was more frustrated with myself. And I respected her for sticking to her guns.”

Ms. Joy became less and less available — answering his calls less often and responding to his texts slower.

“I wasn’t fully giving her everything she deserved at the time,” Mr. Viall said. “She wasn’t going to stick around for something that was less conventional. Which I obviously always respected about her and, you know, made me really have to think long and hard about what was important to me.”

“I finally realized that even though I had my fears — you can always think of reasons not to do something that you’re worried about — that wasn’t worth losing her,” Mr. Viall added. “And so I kind of got over my insecurities or fears.”

While she was on a trip to Puerto Rico in July 2020 with her sister, he texted her and asked if they could talk. He wanted to work it out. And he told her that he loved her.

After her trip, Ms. Joy visited him in Los Angeles, and the two became exclusive. Around the same time, Mr. Viall was looking for houses in L.A.

“I remember him telling me, ‘I’m looking at these houses, and I’m picturing you in them with me,’” Ms. Joy said. She moved into his new home in Valley Village in November 2020.

“In Natalie’s presence, Nick is more relaxed,” Ms. Joynt said. The couple did their first joint interview in July 2021 on Ms. Joynt and Mr. Levine’s podcast “Dear Shandy.”

“It was really sacred to him,” Ms. Joynt said about their relationship. “Once you make something public, there’s a lot out of your control. And I think it speaks to how precious he saw this relationship, that he wanted to keep it as private as he did.”

Ms. Joynt added that she and Mr. Levine had met other women Mr. Viall had dated. And they had heard about many others. But, “most of them never got past the starting point.” (Mr. Viall had become engaged on his season of “The Bachelor,” but the engagement ended later that year.)

In January 2023, Mr. Viall proposed by organizing a fake movie screening for Tom Hanks’s film “A Man Called Otto.” He convinced her they would be attending by making a fake flier with details including the address and dress code, and booked a venue in Venice, Create Studios. Mr. Viall even hired extras who stood in line with her to enter the venue. When she entered, though, the floor was decorated with 200 candles, and a big screen in the back of the room began playing a prerecorded video of Mr. Viall speaking to the camera.

“Thank you for falling in love with me and making me feel safe enough to fall in love with you,” Mr. Viall said in the video, while crying. “I know when we first met, I was a tough nut to crack. It probably felt like it was tough to get me to open up. So thank you so much for being patient with me.”

“Look up by the stairs,” Mr. Viall said in the video. There he was in the flesh, walking down the staircase to propose.

In February, the couple welcomed their daughter, River Rose Viall. Mr. Viall, who grew up in Milwaukee, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and supply chain management. In addition to his podcast, which is under his media company, Envy Media, Mr. Viall is a host and relationship expert on the unscripted show, “Patti Stanger: The Matchmaker.”

Ms. Joy, who returned to high school and graduated, received a degree in surgical technology from Savannah Technical College. She currently works as a surgical technologist for Dr. Mehryar Ray Taban, an ocular facial surgeon based in Beverly Hills. She is also a regular on “The Viall Files.”

On April 27, the couple were wed before 164 guests at Magnolia Farm and Stables, an animal farm in Savannah owned by Ms. Joy’s sister. Mr. Levine, who was ordained through the American Marriage Ministries for the occasion, led the ceremony, with Ms. Joynt taking part.

The theme of the wedding was “Vogue on the farm,” Mr. Viall said. “Very posh, very elegant, but it’s on an animal farm,” Ms. Joy added.

JoJo Siwa, Josh Peck, the actor formerly of “Drake & Josh,” and Katie Maloney from “Vanderpump Rules” were among the guests. Ms. Joy wore a gown by Macye Wysner of Cinq, while Mr. Viall was gifted a tuxedo by Hugo Boss for the ceremony.

The couple had a “country chic” welcome party the Friday before the wedding, leaning into Ms. Joy’s Southern roots with a mechanical bull, a vat of boiled peanuts and lots of cowboy hats, suede, fringe and denim.

The theme was unrelated to the current cowboy hype: “I’ve rode horses for a while. That farm has been in my family for a while,” Ms, Joy said. “Natalie’s always been a bit of a country girl,” Mr. Viall added.


When April 27, 2024

Where Magnolia Farm and Stables, Savannah, Ga.

‘Vogue on the Farm’ Guests took local trolleys to the farm for a sunset ceremony with handwritten vows. Rescue animals wandered around the 280-acre property farm: miniature cows, baby goats, horses and peacocks. A lake, willow trees and twinkling lanterns served as the backdrop.

A Do Over Ms. Joy walked down the aisle with their daughter in her arms before handing the baby to her mother. At the altar, after Mr. Levine began his speech, Ms. Joy realized that her train and veil were bunched up. She stopped the ceremony, readjusted her accessories, and they started from the top.

Late-night Waffle House Guests dined on traditional Southern fare and late at night, they indulged in Waffle House, which had been gifted and was served from a food truck.



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