Irena was identified as a frontrunner the moment she stepped out of her car on the first episode of The Bachelor.
Wearing a beautiful black gown, Locky looked like he was falling instantly when Irena unbuttoned his shirt and used a stethoscope to listen to his heart, telling him" “I think I heard your heart skip a beat”.
They went on to share a pretty standard on-screen journey, despite disruptions to the season due to COVID-19, which briefly halted and delayed filming.
At the very end, it came down to Irena and runner-up Bella Varelis, who missed out on Locky’s heart.
In retrospect, Irena has opened up about how she was feeling the night before the finale.
“The night before finale I was in a hotel room in the Hunter Valley doing a ridiculously hard puzzle trying to distract myself… I was freaking out. On this day a year ago, we were in a hotel room waiting for our love story to be finally revealed,” she wrote on Instagram in September this year.
“A year on, our life is far greater than I could have ever imagined it to be. @locklangilbert you have made me the happiest that I have ever been and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us,” she continued.
“I love life with you ❤️.”
Locky also spoke about how he found out that Irena had written himself and Bella a letter in case she wasn’t the one chosen at the very end, and how her thoughtfulness endeared her to him even more.
After his choice went to air, Locky posted a picture of himself with Irena at the finale.
“I have always listened to my heart and it has led me to this point. As hard as it was to say good bye. I was also saying hello to my future wife, baby mumma and best friend. I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with you. Here is to one crazy adventure and so, so many more with you babe.”
Locky and Irena got busy straight away, embarking on a six-month trip around Australia pretty much straight after the finale aired.
Just prior though, as their relationship was kicking off, Irena came to Perth to be with Locky, which coincided with a really tough time in her life.
Her father, Vasco, suffered a medical emergency, but border uncertainty due to COVID-19 meant Irena couldn’t travel to be with him. Simultaneously, she was also navigating a world of online hate and trolling.
“During our first few months together I, unfortunately, suffered a miscarriage,” Irena admitted to WHO in July this year, a devastating blow for the couple.
“But Locky was my absolute rock and having his support made me love him even more.”
The pair still set off on their trip, sharing each stop with their Instagram followers, marking each one with loved-up photos.
“Our trip has definitely been a crash course in getting to know each other,” Irena said of their time away.
“When you’re on the road with someone like this for so long, you really see the good, the bad, and the ugly. But we’ve had an amazing time and know we’ll be together forever,” Locky confirmed.
They ended their trip by celebrating their one-year anniversary in Exmouth, in West Australia.
The pair have since settled in Perth, which is where Locky is usually based when not running his adventure tour business in Bali, which took a hit due to COVID-19 border closures.
Irena, from Melbourne originally, has now gone back to nursing full time, but is still very active on Instagram – often setting up Q&A’s for her and Locky’s fans, and keeping them across their lives.
Despite the miscarriage, Irena has remained very open about how much she wants to be a mum.
When asked about marriage and beginning a family by WHO, they both responded enthusiastically.
“We talk about it all the time! We’ve even named our two future kids. We are on the same page there,” Irena said.
“We talk about what kind of wedding we want all the time and are both keen to start a family. We aren’t spring chickens, so it’ll happen sooner rather than later,” Locky admitted.
WATCH: Bachelor winners Locky and Irena celebrate anniversary. Story continues below.
The sentiment has again been echoed by Irena on Instagram.
“I can't wait to be a mum. It's something I've always looked forward to. And I can't wait to see Locky as a dad, he's a little clucky too,” Irena responded to a fan on Instagram who asked her about having a baby in early December.
“Having the miscarriage last year was upsetting. Since then I've seen a specialist and got all the tests done so hopefully we won't have any issues,” she admitted.
“I know I have the biological clock ticking (it's something that I am very aware of), but I am hopeful that a baby or two is in the near future.
"But not too near,” she clarified.
“I just got back to work and can't go straight to maternity leave.”
While Irena is only 32, many would understand the worry she might be feeling.
Despite this, we really don’t think Locky and Irena will be waiting long – and we have a feeling their fans will be among the first to know when Irena falls pregnant with a genetically-blessed, and likely adventurous bub.
We can’t wait to see what comes next for this delightful couple.
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