Warning, spoilers for Love Is Blind below.
Love Is Blind star Zanab Jaffrey has revealed that she didn’t rehearse her wedding speech, in which she rejected and criticised her now ex-fiancé, Cole Barnett, before standing at the altar.
Jaffrey opened up about her decision to say “I don’t” to Barnett at the altar, and to call out his insensitive behaviour in front of their gathered friends and family during a recent interview with USAToday. Her comments come after the premiere of their wedding, where she condemned her now ex for making comments about body and eating habits.
Speaking to the publication, Jaffrey said that, on the morning of her wedding, she had no idea if she was going to say “I do” or not. However, she said that once she saw Barnett at the ceremony, she realised that it was her opportunity to speak her mind about their relationship.
“When I looked at him and got up (to the altar), I was like: ‘Wow, this guy has to listen to me up here. He’s going to have to hear me. He can’t talk over me; he can’t dismiss me,’” she said. “I used the opportunity to state facts. ... And I wanted him to have a very clear understanding of why it was a ‘no.’”
Although she appeared to confidently turn Barnett down at the altar, she also revealed that she didn’t know what she was going to say to him until the wedding, since she never rehearsed her speech.
“We didn’t know who was going to get asked [to say ‘I do’] first,” she said. “I knew I would want to be kind but still direct, and definitely let him know what our relationship had been to me.”
In the season three finale of the Netflix show, the 32-year-old flight attendant spoke openly about her issues with the 27-year-old realtor and their relationship at their wedding, with the reality star calling Barnett out for critiquing her body, prompting applause from guests.
“You have disrespected me,” she said. “You have insulted me. You have critiqued me, and for what it is worth, you have single-handedly shattered my self-confidence. And I hate that you have had that kind of effect on me. And the messed up thing is, I know I love you.”
“But everything in me and the logical part of my brain, tells me that love shouldn’t feel this way,” Jaffrey continued. “Love shouldn’t hurt like this. I can’t marry you.”
The speech divided viewers, with some praising Jaffrey for standing up for herself, while many claimed that she had rehearsed what she planned to say beforehand.
“I definitely think Zanab planned that whole speech at the wedding I’m sorry babes,” one person tweeted, while another claimed: “There is no way Zanab didn’t have her wedding speech preplanned.”
However, according to someone else, Jaffrey’s wedding speech was “queen behaviour”.
Speaking to USAToday after the failed wedding, Barnett said that, while he was “blindsided” by Jaffrey’s speech, he’s not sure if he would have said “I do” at the wedding after reflecting on their experience.
“I wanted to marry her so badly,” he explained. “If she would have said ‘yes,’ I really have a feeling I would have said ‘yes,’ too, because we had gotten to the best place in our relationship. But looking back now, it’s hard for me to say, seeing where she was at and how she was feeling. I was blindsided by the ‘no’ and the extent of the ‘no.’”
He also revealed that, while he and Jaffrey didn’t speak for a “long time” after the wedding, they are still in each other’s lives, just not in a “romantic” way.
“Now that we’ve seen each other and we’re talking, we’ve really cleared the air. Our relationship is where it needs to be,” he added. “We’re not romantic and we’re not into each other in that way anymore, but we care about each other.”
In the reunion episode, which premiered on Wednesday, Jaffrey claimed that Barnett had once judged her when she was peeling two clementines, as he asked her if she was going to eat them both. The Love Is Blind producers then showed the conversation as part of a deleted scene at the end of the reunion, sparking mixed reactions from viewers.
On Thursday, Jaffrey took to Instagram to respond to critics who claimed she was exaggerating Barnett’s treatment towards her in the clip.
“I am sorry. I’m sorry you weren’t in that relationship,” she wrote in the caption. “I’m sorry me standing up for myself, offended you so greatly. I’m sorry you didn’t see all the reasons for what I said. I’m sorry you didn’t live that with me. I’m sorry that you don’t know me. I’m sorry your insecurities are different than my own. I’m sorry your online hate says so much more of you than it ever will of me.”
She went on to send a message to viewers who didn’t “believe” her and claimed that she was the one who treated Barnett poorly.
“I’m sorry I know how worthy I am,” she wrote. “I’m sorry you have the time to be a keyboard warrior. I’m sorry I’m not a paid actress. I’m sorry I can’t cry on demand. I’m sorry you feel manipulated, gaslit and played. I’m sorry I’m your villain. I’m sorry I’m your bad guy - I promise you I’m not.”
Jaffrey also sent a message to her ex, writing: “I fought for us until I couldn’t anymore. I know you know that. I know you know why I said what I said. I know you know what you did. It’s ok if you aren’t ready to talk about that yet.”
During an interview with Cosmopolitan UK, published after the reunion episode aired, she said she stood by all of her comments about Barnett.
“I stand by what I said,” she added. “I’m someone that chooses their words very carefully. I said what I said for a reason. I think people saw the ‘Cuties clip’ different[ly] than how it made me feel. That’s why I brought it up.”
All episodes of Love Is Blind season three are now streaming on Netflix. Read more to find out which couples were married in the season three finale.