TV & Movies

Let’s Try To Make Sense Of Salley's Pre-Bachelor Engagement Timeline

She celebrated her Bachelorette party weeks before filming began.

 Salley Carson from Clayton's season of 'The Bachelor' via ABC's press site
ABC/Ricky Middlesworth

Bachelor fans went into Clayton Echard’s season already suspicious about Salley Carson. Before the show began airing, sleuthers found information that she was engaged shortly before joining the cast. In fact, her first meeting with Clayton fell just one day after her wedding was set to take place. Being on the show was harder for Salley than she’d anticipated, and she went to talk things through with Clayton, who ended up offering her the season’s first rose. But she ultimately declined because she decided she wasn’t emotionally ready for another relationship, and she left before night one.

After the episode showing her conversation with Clayton aired, Salley’s engagement timeline only continued to raise questions among viewers. According to multiple wedding gift registries, her wedding to neurosurgeon Avery Buchholz was scheduled for Sept. 26, 2021 in Crozet, Virgina, which aligns with The Bachelor’s production dates. But just one month earlier, Salley was celebrating her bachelorette party in Mexico, as seen in since-deleted Instagram photos from Aug. 14 shared by Reality Steve. That means her engagement would have ended just weeks before she went on The Bachelor — which doesn’t make sense given how long the casting process typically takes.

Adding fuel to the fire? Months after she rejected Clayton’s rose, Salley reportedly returned to Mexico for a friend’s birthday group trip. The Instagram account Bachelor Data dug up photos of her posing next to Avery — aka her ex-fiancé — on the trip, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the breakup (or at the very least, suggesting that they’d reconciled).

When The Bachelor premiered in January, those close to Salley attempted to clarify the timeline. An unnamed source claimed to The Sun that she and Avery were “already having problems” during their pre-wedding getaway to Mexico in August, but decided not to cancel the trip — which had cost thousands of dollars — because they weren’t “fully broken up” yet. According to the insider, Salley officially called off the wedding in late August. The source attributed the split to Avery’s alleged cheating.

“It was not a mutual decision, Salley ended it,” the source claimed. “There was infidelity on his part, he was unfaithful and that’s when things ended for good.” The Sun’s article noted that they’d also “confirmed with Salley’s family that the fiancé’s cheating played a factor in their breakup.” Avery did not respond to the outlet’s request for comment.

The family insider further explained that a friend nominated Salley for The Bachelor after her breakup, and that she never applied personally. ABC’s producers reportedly called Salley four days after receiving her nomination. “In the moment, she thought she was doing something where she can go into it with an open heart and heal,” the source added. “She thought it would [be] good for her, but it was probably too soon. It’s so hard. She still has a lot of feelings for [Avery], you know, she was supposed to marry him.”

Though her ex-fiancé’s mom reportedly “knew about ... and was supportive of” Salley going on The Bachelor, it’s unclear whether or not she back together with Avery when she returned from filming for the show. On March 2, Salley announced on Instagram that she’d moved away from Virginia, where Avery is an assistant professor of neurosurgery, and is now “happy to be calling [South Carolina] home again.”

In any case, Clayton doesn’t seem to be harboring any hard feelings about what happened, even defending Salley to Bustle in January. “People say that she had all these red flags. But you have to understand … even if she [felt like she’d] dealt with those feelings, it’s really hard when you get to the actual day. It’s gonna come back up, and it did,” he said. “I thought she was sweet. I thought she was genuine. And so I felt, ‘Hey, I give her a rose, she doesn’t have to walk into night one on edge.’ She’ll be able to relax a little bit and maybe in a couple days she’ll be able to get past it and we’ll be able to start building this relationship. But she felt that it was best for her to leave and I respect that.”