The job titles of contestants on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette is one of the franchise’s longest-running jokes. There are the usual suspects—real estate agent was especially popular during Arie Luyendyk Jr.’s season—but it’s the more questionable careers that get people talking, like “twin” and “sport fishing enthusiast.” It’s a funny concept, to be sure, but the silliness distracts from something that’s rarely discussed on the show: A lot of men and women give up their jobs and financial security to be a part of this franchise. We wanted to know more, so we asked Bekah Martinez—a fan favorite and former nanny from Luyendyk Jr.’s season—to fill us in for Glamour‘s Money Issue.
The cost just kind of depends for each girl, on how and when they were cast. I think some people knew they were going to be on The Bachelor about a month in advance, but I didn’t know for sure until about 10 days before filming. So, that was kind of crazy because basically the only packing list you get is like, “OK, prepare for eight weeks and all kinds of weather.” They don’t want to give you any kind of hints about where you’ll be going, so they tell you to pack everything—bikinis, snow gear, just whatever you might possibly need.
And then, of course, there are the formal gowns. But even with that you’re not sure how many cocktail parties or rose ceremonies there will be, so I was watching back old seasons to try and calculate how many dresses I would need for however many possible weeks I might be on the show. I was also trying to figure out in my head the amount of casual outfits I’d need and what kind of possible weather we might be going through. It was frantic having less than two weeks to pack all of that, and I didn’t have a very extensive wardrobe at that point.
My biggest fear was, Where am I going to get all these dresses? When you think about it, between cocktail parties and rose ceremonies, if you’re going to be there for any amount of time, you’re going to need at least 10 dresses. I didn’t have really any at all. I was like, “This is going to cost me thousands of dollars if I buy all of these.” Knowing that there’s a potential to go on the show for two months and not make any money during that time—I’m not working, but I still have to pay rent and all my living expenses—there was no way I could spend a few grand on clothes.
My biggest fear was, Where am I going to get all these dresses?
So, I just kind of started making a plan of who I could borrow dresses from—that was my main concern. I had a friend who was a pageant girl, so I texted her to ask if she had any in my size. Everything else, I was able to borrow, like some snow gear from my mom. I have a couple of friends with swimwear companies here in Los Angeles, so they gave me some free suits. I asked a friend if I could borrow a variety of shorts and long-sleeve tops and sweaters. I got really lucky because the mom of the family I was nannying for at the time is in the fashion industry, so she sent me to a couple showrooms where I was able to get samples of different dresses to borrow for the show. I was able to borrow about 12 different dresses and a bunch of casual wear from some brands. After the show, I had to collect everything and bring it back to the showroom—they were their samples for models and photoshoots and stuff like that.
I also went to Nordstrom Rack, where I bought a couple of dresses, jewelry, and some formal shoes. Shoes were a thing: I needed a bunch of heels that I didn’t have. I probably spent about $700 or $800 on that stuff, but when I got back to Los Angeles I was so broke I returned everything that still had tags on.
I can image some of the girls who didn’t have the resources to borrow things from showrooms or friends probably spent a significant amount of money—at least a couple thousand, easily. You need a pretty extensive wardrobe. One of the girls brought literally five suitcases, even though you’re supposed to only bring two. One thing I didn’t think about going in is that when you have 15 women living together, you’re able to share stuff. Everyone’s super friendly about that—I’d be like, “Oh, I forgot a denim jacket. Does anyone have one?” Someone always did. That was really helpful.
Seinne and Lauren S. had the best wardrobes. Lauren S. had it all; she had a really good set of basics—every color in every style of short- and long-sleeve shirts. Sienne just had so many cute pieces and a really nice curated style. She had a bunch of adorable dresses and two-piece sets; everything she had was from, like, Free People and Anthropologie. I imagine she spent the most out of everyone because she had so much cute, brand new stuff.
Thankfully I’m a pretty good packer, so I was able to keep everything to two bags. In the six weeks that I was there, I was starting to get nervous that I was running out of stuff but I had enough by the time I left, in Italy. I had some faux furs that I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d use, but I ended up wearing them at least a couple of times a week. That’s something I don’t regret bringing.
For beauty products, I bought extras of everything I use. My hair doesn’t require much—I actually don’t wash my hair, like, at all. I haven’t washed my hair for eight or nine months; I just rinse it. So I didn’t really need any hair products. For makeup, I bought extra samples of foundation, sponges, mascara, and eyelashes—I like Ardell, which are about five bucks—just in case. I wasn’t sure if we’d ever have the chance to stop at a Sephora or not.
I haven’t washed my hair for eight or nine months; I just rinse it. So I didn’t really need any hair products.
I spent less than a thousand for everything, but I think that’s a pretty a typical experience. Well, I don’t actually really know—everyone kept their stuff in their bags for the most part because we were traveling every few days. There were some women who packed a lot. In fact, when we were leaving the mansion some girls optioned to ship an extra bag or two home because they’d have to pay for the extra bag fees on the planes. I think they could maybe get reimbursed if they kept their receipt, but it’s not like we had people to carry our luggage. So if you have five bags, that means you’re going to have to wheel them all onto the shuttle or the bus. It was a lot.
The show supplied little things, like face wash, face wipes, body lotion, shampoo, and conditioner. They had a lot of basics on hand whenever we needed them. If we ever needed to buy extras of things—I ran out of eyelashes, for instance—producers would let us use their phones to order stuff on Amazon and have it shipped to our next location. A lot of girls did that. I also bought a $50 jacket, and when I found out we were going to Florida I ordered a couple of swimsuits online that were about $20 each.
Food is also always provided by the show. And when we were at airports, production would buy us little things. It was kind of funny, like asking a mom or dad. You’d be like, “Can I get this magazine? Can I get these pistachios for the plane?” They’d pretty much always buy us things like that. Everything was taken care of, unless we wanted to order clothes.
But spending money was a little scary because I basically quit my nanny job to go on the show. The baby that I was watching was transitioning into daycare at the time anyway, so it lined up. I was like, Well, I’m sure I’ll find one right when I get back. I’ve been nannying for the past five years, and whenever I moved to a new place I was always able to find a new job easily. But I didn’t realize how difficult it would be coming back. I had six weeks of not working, and then on top of that I didn’t get paid at all for being on the show. Plus, I took out expenses in preparation and then had to pay rent and bills while I was gone. I was definitely pretty broke when I got home.
Figuring out my rent and bills before I left was pretty difficult. I paid one of my monthly rents in advance, and then I gave my roommate the check to deposit if the second month came around and I wasn’t back. I gave my email passwords and my landlord’s number to my mom and had everything directed back to her. But it’s pretty crazy to have your phone off for that amount of time and not have access to your email. You have to be like, Welp, I hope everything’s taken care of! I was thankful I didn’t have, you know, a big girl job like some of the others. I can’t imagine being an accountant or a real estate agent and leaving for two months. It’s crazy.
Still, being on The Bachelor was one-hundred percent worth it. It gets you a lot of exposure, and it’s no secret that a lot of the women are able to support themselves after the show through social media advertising. I’m very lucky that I’ve had a lot of different opportunities come my way, through appearances and sponsored social media posts. And The Bachelor was really just a wonderful experience overall, so I’d certainly do it all over again.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.