I Attended the Golden Bachelor Wedding—Here's What It Was Really Like
Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist's Golden Bachelor wedding was one of the very first celebrity weddings of 2024—and The Knot had a front-row seat to the historic event. On January 4, the couple swapped vows in front of 150 guests in Palm Springs, California. While most of the celebration was captured in a live TV special hosted by Jesse Palmer, there's so much more you didn't see, too, and we were there for every moment.
As a longtime fan (and occasional live-Tweeter) of The Bachelor and its spinoffs, I couldn't have been more excited to attend Gerry and Theresa's Golden wedding. Plus, given my role as The Knot's Entertainment & Celebrity Editor, it's literally my job to be chronically online and pop culture savvy. In other words, The Golden Wedding was my Super Bowl. And, oh, did it deliver.
Ahead of The Golden Wedding, I caught up with Gerry and Theresa on New Year's Eve to chat about their hectic (albeit short) planning experience. According to The Knot's data, the average couple spends 15 months planning their wedding. But considering the nuptials were announced during the live After the Final Rose special on November 30, 2023, the fiancés had mere weeks to pull off the event.
When I shared this stat with the couple, Theresa laughed, saying, "Fifteen months! Yes, that sounds right." Luckily, the TV stars told me they had a "village" of support, particularly from their children. "My daughter has been incredible. She owns a few businesses that have to do with weddings, so she's seen thousands of them. She put together the vision board, and she's answered so many questions [on our behalf] when we weren't available," the bride explained, noting that Gerry's daughters also lent their time. "We've had the whole family helping. We did it really fast!"
The Golden Bachelor Gerry Turner & Theresa Nist's Wedding Details
So, what was the Golden Wedding really like? Is it true that all of the women from Gerry's season were in attendance? And what's the deal with *that* live proposal? Here's an inside look at the buzziest wedding of the year.
The Golden Bachelor Wedding Location
One of the biggest questions fans had was where the Golden Wedding would take place. Considering Gerry is from Indiana and Theresa has roots in New Jersey—and the fact that they've said they're eyeing a potential move to South Carolina—the location was a key factor. The festivities ultimately took place at La Quinta Resort and Club in La Quinta, California. (Bach Nation fans will recognize this as the exact resort where Clare Crawley and Tayshia Adams' double season took place in 2020. Music fans, on the other hand, know La Quinta as the desert home to Coachella and Stagecoach.)
The sprawling Spanish-style estate was a stunning destination for a winter wedding. With sunny skies and temperatures reaching the high 60s, the couple was gifted a picture-perfect day to swap vows.
The Golden Carpet Arrivals
Former Bachelorette Charity Lawson and Golden Bachelor contestant Kathy Swarts hosted the Golden Carpet, welcoming attendees as they arrived at the venue. The space was crawling with iconic Bachelor couples, including newlyweds Caelynn and Dean Bell and Mari Pepin and Kenny Braasch, as well as some of the longest-married franchise couples, like Trista and Ryan Sutter, Jason and Molly Mesnick, and Desirée and Chris Siegfried. Most of the vivacious Golden Bachelor contestants (or the Golden Girls, as they call themselves) were in the crowd as well—including the season runner-up, Leslie Fhima, who was all smiles as she caught up with Charity, Kathy and former Bachelor Ben Higgins.
I got a moment to chat with former Bachelorette Rachel Recchia, who was fresh off the latest season of Bachelor in Paradise. Although she told me that she's currently single, she confirmed that doesn't have plans to return to the Bachelor franchise in the immediate future...for now. ("But," she quipped, "Never say never!") Plus, she added, she was excited to finally be able to view the Bachelor fun, rather than be in the middle of it. "It is so beautiful here," she raved. "I cannot wait to finally watch a love story!"
I also got a few moments with the next Bachelor Joey Graziadei, whose season premieres on January 22. When I asked him to describe his show in one word, he said it was "romantic," noting that he had a "great group of girls." (Swoon!) As fans know, Joey and Gerry got to know each other quite well during the Golden Bachelor, particularly on the pickleball group date (where Joey, a tennis player, helped teach the women a few moves). Given their personal connection, the night was extra special for the incoming lead. "I got lucky enough to know Gerry and Theresa through my season, and I'm excited to be here to celebrate their love today. "
It was during my conversation with former Bachelorette Michelle Young and her boyfriend Jack Leius that things got interesting. We talked about this being a full circle moment for her, notably because her season of the Bachelorette was filmed just down the road in Indian Wells. Though she's no longer with her final pick, she revealed that she's found a new level of happiness with her partner. "I did not realize you could be in a relationship with this type of foundation," Michelle said. "It feels very calm and sustainable. It's powerful and beautiful at the same time. I didn't realize I could be this happy."
Then, we were interrupted by a champagne cork pop and cheering—because just steps away in the cocktail hour lounge, Bachelor in Paradise star Brayden Bowers proposed to Christina Mandrell. (Yes, really!) The newly minted fiancés were all smiles as cocktail hour continued, with plenty of guests heading their way to catch a glimpse of the latest Neil Lane engagement ring in the Bachelor-verse.
The "Ethereal" Decor
From there, we made our way to our ceremony seats. During my conversation with Gerry and Theresa, I asked what they were looking forward to the second time around, considering this is the second wedding for both of them. "There will be a lot of differences," Turner explained, starting with the food. "We both didn't have caterers for our first wedding. Everybody brought a covered dish for mine."
As for Theresa, she said the biggest difference would be the sheer volume of decor. "I didn't have flowers," she recalled. "My first wedding was put together in three days and my mother did the entire thing. To have the support for a second wedding, to me, is such a gift. It's like a fairytale."
The day, indeed, had a fairytale atmosphere. Theresa told me that her vision for the nuptials was "elegant and classy, but warm and friendly." She explained they would incorporate hues of pink, peach and pale creams, which would be accompanied by soft, beautiful flowers to create an "ethereal feeling."
With the help of their wedding planning team, Mindy Weiss Design Consultants, the outdoor venue—which was nestled beneath the towering Santa Rosa mountains—was transformed into a romantic desert oasis. Pink florals provided by Celio's Design cascaded down the altar, creating a cozy cocoon of color and whimsy. Paired with mismatched candles scattered throughout the space, it felt like an extension of the famed Bachelor mansion.
Theresa Nist's Wedding Dress
Before the wedding, Gerry told The Knot that he was *most* excited for his future wife's processional. "For me, it's going to be when I turn around and see her wedding gown and she begins to walk down the aisle," he said. "That's the moment I'm waiting for." Theresa joked, "He thinks this gown is doing to deliver. I hope it's beautiful!"
Deliver, it did. The bride looked resplendent in an off-the-shoulder fit-and-flare beaded wedding dress from Badgley Mischka. She was surrounded by her family and some of the Golden Girls when she went dress shopping, which she told me was an "incredible" experience. "I had my daughter, my daughter-in-law, [Gerry's] daughters, and Susan and Kathy with me," she recalled. "Badgley Mischka sent in all of these beautiful gowns, and I was so overwhelmed. So, I said, 'Hey, each one of you pick out your favorite dress [for me to try on].' They were so excited. I also picked out three gowns to try, and we all agreed on which was 'the one.'"
The Golden Bachelor Ceremony, Officiated by Susan Noles
Here's one thing about me: I'm a crier, especially at weddings, so I knew I'd get emotional during the ceremony. As Gerry walked down the aisle, guests cheered and waved while he made his way to the altar. There, he met officiant Susan Noles—a Golden Bachelor fan-favorite who also happens to be a professional officiant. She kept the crowd laughing all night with a perfect blend of humor and heart. (Read: It's clear Susan is a seasoned pro, proving why an officiant is an essential wedding vendor.)
Finally, the bride proceeded down the aisle to a captivating instrumental tune provided by a symphony of strings. The sheer joy was palpable as everyone watched Theresa walk toward her groom. Even from my seat in the back, the adoration and love between Gerry and Theresa couldn't be more evident.
It was during the speeches that I got a little misty, particularly when the couple's children took the floor. Gerry's daughters Angie and Jenny delivered a touching message to their dad, while Theresa's daughter Jen said she knew their deceased spouses, Toni and Billy, would be proud.
Perhaps the most surprising part came when Susan asked the couple to envision where their lives would be in 10 years. Under her breath, Theresa mumbled, "Dead!" and the crowd burst into laughter. But, in my conversation with the couple just days prior, she acknowledged that they're making the most of the time they have together. "We're a combined 142 years old!" Theresa cracked, before adding, "I never expected my life to take this turn. At age 70? It's one decision you make in your life that leads you to another decision, and another, and another, and it gets you on a show like this. We marvel at it and don't take it for granted."
As such, the couple's first kiss was every bit as magical as you'd imagine. Then, as they walked back up the aisle as husband and wife, confetti canons shot white rose petals into the star-scattered sky.
Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist's Wedding Reception
At long last, it was time to party. Guests made their way to the reception space, where Ben Higgins was the first to start dancing. (He was quickly joined by Leslie Fhima, Kaitlyn Bristowe, and Michelle Young.)
During my chat with the couple, Gerry teased that their reception entrance and first dance would be a moment to remember. "I have sore joints from all of the rehearsals for the first dance," he said with a laugh. "We're trying to put together something that hopefully we can pull off."
Spoiler alert: They did pull it off. As they entered the reception to the TikTok sensation "Lil Boo Thang," onlookers roared in excitement. Then, as a nod to the flash mob from their very first date, The Dan Band broke out into a rendition of "Don't Stop Believin." Gold streamers rained down from above while everyone broke out in song. And this time, Gerry didn't have to worry about driving home on the California freeway with only one headlight.
Theresa broke tradition by tossing her bouquet early in the evening. To no one's surprise, the Golden Girls were front and center. The coveted prize was caught by Anna Zalk, who, interestingly enough, was sent home from the show on night one. That said, Joan Vassos also caught a handful of petals, which we can only hope may help manifest her role as the first Golden Bachelorette.
Guests snacked on passed appetizers like ahi tuna, mini meatballs, charcuterie and crudité. The signature cocktails were also hyper-personalized. There was the "Turner into a Mrs.," a vodka cranberry with a twist of lime, the "Birthday Suit," a spicy margarita, "The Final Rose," an Old-Fashioned, and the "One Headlight" (prosecco with elderflower liquor, lemon juice and pomegranate seeds).
Plus, The Private Reception
When the cameras stopped rolling, the party was far from over. After the televised event, Gerry and Theresa enjoyed a traditional reception with their loved ones. Before the exclusive party began, I got to peek inside the intimate venue, which was also designed by Mindy Weiss. Complete with a golden checkered dance floor, the room had a mix of round and rectangular tables artfully enhanced with lush arrangements of pink and white flowers. Thick garlands of greenery hung from the chandeliers, while clusters of candles gave the room a romantic, cozy ambiance just like the outdoor space.
A separate seating area led to the bar, where the same signature cocktails were available. The dinner menu consisted of Caprese salad, followed by a choice of filet mignon, Alaskan halibut, and eggplant parmesan. Gerry, a known sweets lover, was most excited about the wedding cake. Since his dad wasn't able to attend the nuptials because of his health, the couple orchestrated a special surprise to help include him from afar. "I found a baker in Fort Wayne, Indiana, who has replicated our wedding cake," he told me. "He'll be delivering the cake to my dad's home for his viewing party right before the broadcast starts."
West Coast Music Services provided entertainment for the raucous party, which could be seen on a few Instagram Stories shared by Bachelor stars.
Reflecting on the massive platform The Golden Wedding has, Gerry and Theresa share the desire for viewers to take away an important learning from their story. "The message throughout the season was heart, hope and humor," Gerry said. "Those are the three things that I want everybody to continue with from our wedding. Plus, the joy that two people have found each other this late in life."
When I asked them to share their best relationship advice, Theresa said confidently, "Look at your partner like you're looking at them for the first time, every day. Don't take it for granted. Look at them with fresh eyes, every single day." And, as if I wasn't there and they were the only ones in the room, Gerry nuzzled into her forehead, saying, "I got the right girl."
If you missed The Golden Wedding, don't worry—you can still have your own watch party at home. The Golden Wedding will be available to stream on Hulu beginning January 5, 2024.
The Golden Wedding Vendors
Wedding Venue: La Quinta Resort & Club; Photographer: John & Joseph; Videographer: Vidcam Productions; Wedding Rings: Neil Lane Couture; Wedding Planner: Mindy Weiss Party Consultants; Wedding Dress: Badgley Mischka; Bridesmaid Dresses: Badgley Mischka; Shoes: Badgley Mischka; Groom's Tuxedo: The Black Tux; Groomsmen Tuxedos: The Black Tux; Invitations: Lehr & Black; Flowers: Celio's Design; TV Reception Band: The Dan Band; Private Reception Band: West Coast Music Services; Decor: Town & Country, Theoni, Revelry; Linens: Luxe Linens; Candles: Vogue Candles; Lighting: Images by Lighting