Bachelor Nation Star Marquel Martin Is Engaged to Longtime Love Kari Kaisner
Eric Williams // @ewillphoto
Congrats are in order for Marquel Martin! The beloved Bachelor Nation star is engaged to his longtime love, Kari Kaisner, following a romantic proposal that took place Saturday at Las Vegas’ Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa.
“I am overrun with emotions,” Marquel tells BachelorNation.com exclusively, just moments after he popped the question with a sparkling solitaire diamond ring. “I’ve thought about this moment for a really long time now.”
Marquel — despite the fact that he is currently recovering from a torn Achilles tendon — whisked Kari away to Sin City under the guise of a fun holiday getaway. Little did she know that he had flown in her parents and sister from Illinois, who were waiting to surprise her inside the hotel’s Presidential Suite.
“I was so nervous going into this,” admits Marquel, who got down on one knee with the couple's adorable dog, Loki Loni, strapped to his back. “But now that it’s over, I’m so relieved. I’m just so excited to spend the rest of my life with Kari.”
Surrounded by candlelight and rose petals, Kari emphatically said yes to the man of her dreams in the city where their love story began.
Eric Williams // @ewillphoto
Marquel and Kari first met each other six years ago, not long after the handsome marketing agent finished back-to-back stints on “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise” in 2014. The pair were living at the same apartment complex at the time but only crossed paths by chance.
“She ran out of gas one day,” Marquel recalls. “And I gave her a ride to the gas station. And that’s where it all started — at the gas station. After coming off of ‘Paradise,’ love was the last thing I was looking for. But there was definitely something there.”
Their immediate spark ignited a friendship that would later evolve into something more meaningful. In between that transition, however, Marquel and Kari also got to know each other as business partners.
“We were hanging out more and more, and I just loved every moment I got to spend with her. I told her about this new company I was starting, Social Cookie,” Marquel says of his former dessert venture. “And I asked her to be a part of it because she has experience in marketing and is such a hardworking woman.”
It was through the process of building Social Cookie that Marquel says he began falling for Kari — especially when she supported him not only in his professional endeavors but through a series of challenges. In late 2016, Marquel discovered he had a genetic heart disease, was given a defibrillator, and lost a job not long after having surgery to implant the device.
“My whole world turned upside down,” Marquel says. “One minute I thought I was this hot young bachelor. And then the next I had suffered all these setbacks and lost all my confidence. But she pulled me out of my depression. She showed me love, she prayed with me, and lifted my spirits any way she could.”
Six months later, when Marquel landed a new position in Los Angeles, Kari wouldn’t allow distance to wilt their blossoming romance. “To keep our relationship going, she would literally drive from Vegas to L.A. every single weekend,” he says. “To get back to work by 7 a.m. on Monday morning, she would leave L.A. at 3 a.m. That was commitment.”
Eric Williams // @ewillphoto
Although they never had a discussion about making things “official,” it was soon apparent to Marquel that Kari was The One. In fact, he can pinpoint the exact moment he knew he wanted to ask for her hand in marriage.
“My dad has diabetes and last year he had a stroke and he ended up having to have his leg amputated. It was such a hard time for all of us. But watching Kari console my mom throughout all of that, that’s when I knew she had to become my wife,” says Marquel. “While my mom broke down in the ER, Kari assured her that everything would be OK. She is literally an angel, the biggest blessing in my life. I don’t know what I’d do without her.”
Marquel — who has been living with Kari and his parents at his childhood home in Rio Alto, California, amid the COVID-19 pandemic — says that he and his fiancée are closer than ever these days, especially after enduring such a trying year as 2020.
“No matter who you are or where you’re from, 2020 has been tough on everyone. But it’s also taught us the importance of health, family, and having love in your life,” he says. “Kari embodies all those things for me, which is why I knew I needed to lock it down before the year ended.”
Reflecting on his journey within Bachelor Nation, Marquel says that he believes his experience dating on national television ultimately led to his thriving love life with Kari.
“Oddly enough, I learned more about myself than anything else during filming. And you have one idea of what love is before you start the show and then once you’re off, your whole outlook has changed,” he explains. “You have these great conversations with yourself, with producers, and with your castmates. And you start to learn what you value in a relationship. You create your own definition of love. And because of that, I was ready and able to receive a love as unconditional and perfect as Kari’s.”
Looking forward to the future, Marquel tells BachelorNation.com that starting a family with Kari is at the top of their to-do list. “There’s nothing like a loving mother. My mom is my best friend and I know that Kari will make the best mom in the world,” he gushes, before adding with a laugh, “We should probably get married first, but I’d love to start another generation of Martins!”