All the best moments from the ceremony
When Turner began his “Golden Bachelor” journey, the 72-year-old Indiana widower won over hearts by saying he wasn’t looking for a woman he could live with, but a woman he couldn’t live without. That turned out to be Nist, a 70-year-old financial services professional from Shrewsbury, N.J.
Turner and Nist said “I do” during a live televised event on Thursday on ABC. “The Golden Bachelor” fan favorite Susan Noles officiated, Kathy Swarts of “Zip it!” fame was a gold carpet correspondent, and heartbroken runner-up Leslie Fhima attended despite a recent hospitalization.
Follow along with USA TODAY as we watch the Golden Wedding, tissues at the ready!
Newly married Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist’s first dance was a bit on the money but in line with a good dad joke.
“I almost forgot the really important advice,” he told the crowd. “Don’t stop believing.”
Just then the famous Journey song began playing (the one performed by a flash mob during their first date) and the couple began their first dance. Moments later during the same song, Turner ran into runner-up Leslie Fhima on the dance floor and the two hugged it out.
Fhima didn’t miss out on the dancing but she did miss out on the bouquet toss, which got physical.
The competition was so fierce, the bouquet will be split between three women: Joan Vassos, Anna Zalk, and of course, Kathy Swarts, known both for her competitiveness and strong desire to meet one lucky man.
She stole the show leading up to the ceremony as a gold carpet host, telling self-deprecating and witty jokes throughout the night on a national stage.
“Kathy really should be trending tonight because she’s been hilariously funny throughout this wedding,” wrote one viewer on X.
Well our hearts are bursting.
Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist are now married, just a few short months after they first met on “The Golden Bachelor” and shared their painful past and loss of their previous spouses with the world.
Both Turner and Nist cried throughout their emotional vows.
More than anything, Nist said she wants “to have fun for the rest of the days we have left on this Earth.”
Laughing about their ages, she added: “Which could be another hour.”
Then serious again: “I love you with all my heart and I cannot wait to be your wife.”
Turner then told her that he knows “the hand of God and the winds of fate have ordained this moment.”
“From the first sip of chocolate shake to the last sip of Costa Rican coffee, I learned that you are the woman I can’t live without,” he continued.
Turner continued to say that “it wasn’t my ear that you whispered in when you said the I love yous, but my very soul.” The camera then cut to heartbroken runner-up Leslie Fhima, she looked hurt and sour. (Turner had told her she was his girl and that he loved her in Costa Rica, as well, so that checks out).
After exchanging their vows, they put rings on each other’s fingers and Noles told them that they may now “take on the world together with all your hopes and dreams,” and pronounced them man and wife.
Nist laughed giddily and the two shared a big kiss and an ever bigger hug before they turned to the crowd and raised their clasped hands in celebration.
“Let’s hear it for Mr. and Mrs. Turner!” Noles declared.
Gerry Turner was crying before he even saw bride Theresa Nist walking toward him down the aisle. But when she emerged, he really lost it.
Bottom lip quivering and tears spilling, Turner was clearly overwhelmed by the moment, as was officiant and “Golden Bachelor” fan favorite Susan Noles, who struggled to deliver her introduction through tears.
“You weren’t kidding the way she looks at you,” she told Turner as Nist joined him at the altar after her son gave her away. “Standing up here with you two tonight might be the highest honor ever and I thank you both. OK, let’s do this.”
The ceremony continued with tearful speeches from the couple’s respective daughters, as the couple themselves could barely keep it together.
So many of us women appreciated “The Golden Bachelor” for helping show how important it is to appreciate our bodies and sexuality at any age.
The ladies doubled down on that message with a sexy photo shoot and bachelorette party.
Nist arranged for photo shoots for some of her friends from the show, including Susan Noles, Faith Martin, Ellen Goltzer and Sandra Mason. The shoot seemed to bring out their spicier side as they posed in lingerie.
“I have many X-rated thoughts about Denzel (Washington),” Mason said, adding a number of bleeped-out words about how she would like to spend time with him.
Goltzer, who became known for her impressive pickleball skills, said that “this whole thing is out of my comfort zone … But I felt really sexy.”
Later, dancers from Chippendales showed up, with Noles saying she felt like she had to spice things up. She observed Mason “playing the bongos on a six-pack.”
Martin was a little more abashed about the evening: “He had smooth abs and tight skin … I sound like a predator.”
These ladies make aging look like way more fun than we realized.
If you weren’t laughing and crying throughout Theresa Nist’s dress-shopping experience, are you even human?
Gerry Turner’s and Nist’s respective daughters were there, as were co-stars and fan favorites Kathy Swarts and Susan Noles.
After Nist appears in one potential dress, she tells Swarts: “Kathy, I need a favor from you. I can’t zip it,” in a hilarious reference to Swarts’ accidental catchphrase, which she got when exasperated with Nist’s gushing over her date with Turner early on in the season.
Soon after the joke, Swarts said, “Today it was my joy to zip it for Theresa.”
Meanwhile Nist said it was “like a fairytale” trying on dresses from Badgley Mischka. “It’s been 51 years since I’ve put on a wedding gown,” said Nist, whose high school sweetheart and husband of 42 years died in 2014.
Nist’s daughter, Jen Woolston, got emotional watching her mom trying on dresses, recalling when her mom helped her pick hers out.
“You look beautiful,” she cried as she hugged her mother tight. “She’s going to be gorgeous and it’s going to be the most magical day. I can’t wait.”
Some of most stately queens from “The Golden Bachelor” have arrived, and they’re dressed to kill.
Natascha Hardee was wearing a low-cut, velvet magenta gown. Though “Bachelor” host Jesse Palmer told her he couldn’t wait to see her out on the dance floor, she said she was excited about sitting down.
“The seats are comfortable, they’re cushy,” she said of the ceremony seating. “I’m looking forward to putting my butt on those seats.”
She wore green earrings shaped like chairs.
Meanwhile Edith Aguirre and Joan Vassos chatted with gold carpet hosts Kathy Swarts and Charity Lawson.
Aguirre wore a long-sleeved crimson gown and Vassos was pulling off a daring black cutout dress.
Aguirre said the wedding comes as no surprise.
“I remember Theresa coming home the first night from her date, she told me, ‘You know what, this is it. Between me and him, we have a spark,’” she recalled. “I knew right there they were special.”
Vassos added that “It is a love story,” and added that her and the other “Golden Bachelor” ladies are “ready to find love, and 2024 holds a lot for us.”
Swarts joked earlier: “I’m single. I need a guy.”
“We’re toasting to love and to all the single ladies out there,” Swarts said as she drank champagne with her fellow “Golden Bachelor” stars. “ May we not be single next year.”
The biggest surprise guest just answered our biggest burning question of the night.
“Golden Bachelor” runner-up Leslie Fhima just made an appearance on the gold carpet and talked to host Kathy Swarts, who asked her what she would like Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist to know.
“At our age we have to celebrate love,” she said. “I was very good friends with Theresa, we supported each other through the whole time in the house and all the way through this journey. I’m so happy for her and Gerry. I’m here at the end of the day to support love.”
Soon after Ben Higgins of Season 20 of “The Bachelor” showed up, sending Swarts and Fhima swooning. Fhima danced with him before he sauntered off.
“Bachelor” host Jesse Palmer opened the wedding livestream by announcing that he may miss the birth of his baby.
“On a personal note, I actually wasn’t sure that I was going to make it here,” he said. “And that’s because my beautiful wife Emily is at home right now, and we’re expecting the birth of our very first child at any moment. Seriously, it could happen tonight.”
He told his wife that he loves and misses her and to “please call me if you need anything.”
“I will leave here immediately,” he said.
Meanwhile gold carpet host Kathy Swarts announced that she didn’t bring a date and bragged about knowing this wedding day would come after Gerry Turner’s and Theresa Nist’s first date.
Swarts, known for telling Nist to “zip it” when she was gushing about one of her dates with Turner quipped: “Who thought it was a good idea to put a microphone in my hand?”
The 150 wedding guests, which include members of the media, are filing into the Palm Springs venue looking their best. Women wore floor-length gowns, many strapless despite the temperatures in the low 60s.
Beachwood chairs and even couches are looking over the altar, which is surrounded by candles in groups of 10 and hundreds and hundreds of roses.
Among the most honored guests is 6-year-old Henry, Theresa Nist’s grandson and the youngest member of the wedding party.
The new “Bachelor” star this coming season, Joey Graziadei, was seen in a green suit holding court with other Bachelor Nation members, including Wells Adams, the bartender on “Bachelor in Paradise.”
— Amanda Lee Myers and Bryan Alexander
Sneak peek of the wedding venue, ceremony
Entertainment reporters with early access to the ceremony in Palm Springs have been sharing pictures of the venue and even the rehearsal.
USA TODAY’s own Bryan Alexander shared a shuttle to the venue with other reporters and snapped a few photos less than an hour before the event was to kick off..
An entertainment host who goes by Reality Zachary shared photos on Thursday afternoon of what appears to be the ceremony site, with pink roses blanketing an arch that could also be the altar.
“It’s almost wedding time!” he wrote.
A TV writer who goes by Reality Steve shared several pictured of a rehearsal ceremony in front of the same arch on Wednesday. Gerry Turner, Theresa Nist and officiant Susan Noles were clearly visible amid palm trees and Spanish architecture.
Noles has been sharing updates on social media, including one on Facebook on Thursday afternoon and multiple photos on Instagram, including one of her posing with fellow former contestants Kathy Swarts and Nancy Hulkower.
Meanwhile Swarts shared a photo smiling big with the happy couple. “All smiles in Palm Springs! Ready for the wedding of the year!” she wrote.
ABC announced on Thursday that Kathy Swarts and Charity Lawson will act as gold carpet correspondents ahead of the Golden Wedding.
Swarts is known for losing her temper when eventual “Golden Bachelor” winner Theresa Nist gushed about her dates with Turner during the season. She failed to get a rose after Turner learned she had told Nist to “zip it.”
Lawson was the star of the 20th season of “The Bachelorette” last year after making it to the hometown episode of the 27th season of “The Bachelor.” Lawson and “The Bachelorette” contestant Dotun Olubeko became engaged at the end of the season.
ABC previously announced that Susan Noles, whose warm personality endeared her to Turner, Nist and fans, was would officiate the ceremony.
— Amanda Lee Myers
Though ABC has been keeping the location of the Golden Wedding under wraps, multiple members of Bachelor Nation have been posting to social media from La Quinta Resort & Club in Southern California’s Palm Springs, known for its retro cool vibes, stunning mountains and as a favorite celebrity retreat from Los Angeles.
The resort plays host to plenty of swanky weddings, offering couples to get married by a waterfall, host their loved ones in an elegant ballroom, and have access to 41 pools and five golf courses.
Kenny Braasch, who appeared on the 16th season of “The Bachelorette” and won the seventh season of “Bachelor in Paradise,” posted an Instagram story with wife (and fellow “Bachelor in Paradise” alumna) Mari Pepin arriving at Palm Springs International Airport Wednesday, followed by several videos of them at La Quinta Resort. One of the videos was Pepin showing off a tote bag that said, “The Golden Wedding 2024.”
Recent “Bachelor in Paradise” alum Brayden Bowers was tagged in Braasch’s story as he ate breakfast on what appears to be the patio near one of the resort’s pools, and on his own story, he shared videos from what appears to be a welcome party for wedding guests at the resort’s Adobe Grill, featuring former “Bachelorette” Charity Lawson alongside former “Golden Bachelor” contestants Faith Martin, Ellen Goltzer, Kathy Swarts, Joan Vassos, Nancy Hulkower and many more.
— Amanda Lee Myers and Niki Kottman
The ‘Golden Wedding’ will air live at 8 p.m. ET on Jan. 4 on ABC and will be available to stream on Hulu the next day. The previous episodes are also available to stream on the platform.
First appeared on www.usatoday.com