05/26/2004 AT 2:00 PM ET
He can now drop the nickname Bachelor Bob – and PEOPLE’s latest issue has all the details on how Bob Guiney proposed to his girlfriend of five months, All My Children star Rebecca Budig, in her Manhattan apartment on May 20.
“She had just thrown a big surprise birthday party for me on May 8, and it blew me away,” says the mortgage broker turned rock singer. “So I had a couple of different ideas how I wanted to go about it.”
The 2-carat diamond engagement ring he designed with his friend, jeweler Simon Cardwell, “was burning a hole in my pocket for a week,” Guiney says, until he found the right moment: “She happened to need an accessory for the (Daytime) Emmys the next day, and I happened to have the perfect accessory.”
The pair first met in January 2003 while taping a segment for Bachelor XYZ – the ABC Family Channel recap of the series, which Budig hosts – after Guiney was dumped by Trista Rehn on The Bachelorette.
If the engagement surprised Budig, 30, it might shock fans of Guiney, 33, who recall his failure to pop the question during The Bachelor’s final rose ceremony.
Back in September, when the show was taped, he placed a diamond ring on the right hand of Estella Gardinier, explaining that being a divorcé (his 2 1/2-year first marriage ended in 2002) made him cautious about a return trip to the altar.
But with Budig – whom Guiney started dating after he and Gardinier split in November – his hesitation disappeared. “I wanted her to feel how committed I am to our relationship,” he says. “We just have an absolute blast together. We are best friends on top of everything else.”
They have yet to set a wedding date, but Guiney says the ceremony, when it happens, will be “a real private thing.”
For now, they’re just trying to synchronize their busy schedules: Guiney, who’s based in Detroit, is currently on a 40-city tour to promote his CD 3 Sides, while Budig remains mostly in New York City taping AMC.
“When he’s off tour, we’ll probably be in New York and go to Detroit on weekends,” Budig says. Guiney, for his part, says simply, “I will go wherever she is.”