‘Golden Wedding’ live updates: Leslie Fhima appears; Brayden Bowers proposes to Christina Mandrell

This article contains spoilers for “The Golden Wedding,” which is being broadcast live at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC. The West Coast broadcast will begin at 8 p.m. Pacific.

The first major TV event of 2024 revolves around the live televised wedding of the “royal couple.”

In this case, it’s not members of British royalty who are in the spotlight. The stars are reality TV royalty — Gerry Turner, a.k.a. “The Golden Bachelor,” who is marrying financial services professional Theresa Nist during a two-hour special Thursday. The ceremony will be broadcast live beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC. However, it won’t air on the West Coast until 8 p.m. Pacific. It will be available to stream on Hulu Friday.

The network is pulling out all the stops for the live ceremony, which is taking place at the lavish La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs. The nuptials are the culmination of a hugely successful season for the popular “The Bachelor” franchise, as the spinoff centered on Turner, a 72-year-old widower, looking for a new life partner.

Turner proposed to Nist in the finale, selecting her over 21 other contestants who competed for his affections. One of the contestants, Susan Noles, is officiating the ceremony, and another, Kathy Swarts, is interviewing arrivals on the “gold carpet.” Almost half of the other women who were featured on the show are attending.

Among them is Leslie Fhima, one of the finalists whose heartbroken response to Turner when he informed her he was choosing Nist as his bride-to-be instead of her nearly overshadowed the upbeat ending of the season.

Rob Young, Turner’s son-in-law, is best man, while Jen Woolston, Nist’s daughter, is maid of honor.

Our writers Greg Braxton and Meredith Blake will be discussing the wedding in real time, so if you are on the West Coast and can’t wait to see who shows up or what happens, follow along with them here as they weigh in on the big moments of “The Golden Wedding.”

A man in a blue suit on one knee proposing to a woman in a silver sleeveless dress, outdoors in a garden.

Gerry Turner proposed to Theresa Nist in the finale of “The Golden Bachelor.”

(John Fleenor / The Walt Disney Co.)

Greg Braxton: So cool to be sharing the big day with you, Meredith. But I have to ask how you’re feeling about Leslie looking on as Gerry gets married to Theresa. You were not a big fan of how he handled that situation. I certainly wouldn’t want to watch an ex who had broken my heart getting married.

Meredith Blake: Greg, the pleasure is all mine! I have dusted off my finest cocktail attire (read: sweatpants) and gotten a sparkling new manicure (OK, it’s three weeks old and chipped) and am ready for the big night. Despite the downer of a finale, I personally can’t wait to watch Gerry and Theresa become husband and wife as God and Bob Iger intended — live on the American Broadcasting Company!

I am sure it will be a hard night for Leslie — who, in the interest of full disclosure, was my favorite — but it probably would have been even harder to get labeled a sore loser on social media. It’s also a smart move for Leslie to show up and keep her head held high if she wants to become the first Golden Bachelorette, as many have speculated. And if Hillary Clinton could attend Donald Trump’s inauguration, then surely Leslie can show up for Gerry and Theresa — and maybe lead a round or two of the Electric Slide. (We know she’s got the dance skills.)

Greg, what will you be looking out for this evening? We’ve seen plenty of reality TV wedding specials over the years, but the live nature of this event feels pretty unprecedented.

Braxton: Unless Leslie decides to stand up and object to them getting married, I don’t expect any kind of major drama taking place. Knowing how the production of the franchise is so heavily managed and produced, I’m sure things will be timed down to the minute. The last thing that Disney needs at the beginning of 2024 is another unexpected mess to deal with.

Blake: So I guess this means Dustin Hoffman won’t show up at the last minute and race off with Theresa in a city bus? Sigh. Still — it’s live TV. I’m sure there will be some hiccups. But, really, I’m here for the same thing I would be with any wedding — the dresses, the decor, the public declarations of love that melt my cold, icy heart. And, of course, the open bar. Please tell me it’s not a cash bar. I know times are tough in Hollywood but hopefully the bubbly is on the network. Greg, any predictions about the song choice for Gerry and Theresa’s first dance?

Braxton: If it’s “My Heart Will Go On,” I’m flipping to “Inside Edition.”

Blake: A pre-taped package shows Gerry and Theresa’s family hanging out over the holidays, sharing cherished cinnamon ball recipes and oh-so-casually mentioning their Amazon wedding registry. It took about nine whole minutes for a blatant product placement. How many more can we expect this evening?

Leslie Fhima in a dark dress posing with her hands on her hips.

Leslie Fhima arriving at “The Golden Wedding.”

(James Clark/Disney)

Braxton: Leslie, who just arrived, is being very gracious on the golden carpet. She says we all have to be supportive for love. She is beyond being a good sport.

Blake: With all due respect to Gerry, I have always maintained that the real stars of “The Golden Bachelor” were the ladies. And the producers seem to know that, bringing back several fan favorites in the opening red carpet portion of the evening, including pickleball enthusiast Ellen Goltzer and Kathy “Zip It!” Swarts, who is a correspondent on the golden carpet for the evening, which I endorse as an ASKN fan.

Braxton: Jesse Palmer, host of “The Bachelor” and “Bachelorette,” already deserves to be the MVP of the night. He is hosting the wedding instead of being home with his wife, who is about to give birth.

Blake: Back on the red carpet (that isn’t a red carpet) we get interviews with “Bachelor” super couples Jason and Molly Mesnick and Trista and Ryan Sutter. The most eventful part is when Ryan steps on the train of Trista’s dress. Live TV, folks!

Braxton: Looking at the settings on the table, the cake and the whole atmosphere, it’s clear that expense was not an object. This wedding may have cost more than the Disney’s last few Marvel movies.

Blake: Natascha Hardee, a.k.a. the lady who gave a hilarious speech about how producers needed to give the show’s contestants chairs to sit in during the rose ceremonies, is at the ceremony wearing — what else — chair earrings. She takes her moment on camera to give a pep talk to the folks at home, sitting on the couch to get out there and find love. “Make yourself No. 1 because you are No. 1!” Someone get this woman a talk show, stat!

Braxton: Conducting interviews by the open bar, Kathy laments, “I’m here without a drink, and that’s never a good thing.” She really does need her own show.

Blake: In another taped segment, Theresa tries on wedding gowns designed by Badgley Mischka. Former contestant Susan Noles — who will be the evening’s officiant — is there to crack jokes while Theresa’s one-time nemesis Kathy is also there to help her get into the elaborate dresses. “It my my joy to zip it for Theresa,” she says. I see what you did there, Kathy.

Braxton: Worth pointing out that with the rise of COVID-19 and the flu, no one is wearing a mask at this wedding. I guess that really wouldn’t fit in well with the fairy-tale feeling.

Christina Mandrell and Brayden Bowers

Christina Mandrell and Brayden Bowers at “The Golden Wedding.”

(James Clark/Disney)

Braxton: So of course we have some breaking news at the wedding because the nuptials aren’t enough. Brayden Bowers, who was kind of a villain on Season 20 of “The Bachelorette,” proposed to his girlfriend Christina Mandrell, who he met on “Bachelor in Paradise.” Not surprising that he would try to get attention on the big day!

Blake: As if to stave off criticism about the limelight-stealing, Jesse Palmer comes back after the break and explains that Brayden asked Gerry and Theresa permission to propose on the air. Mmmkay.

Braxton: Yeah. Whatever.

Blake: Theresa’s bachelorette party features more plugs for Amazon’s wedding registry, a boudoir photo shoot and a gaggle of male strippers. Gasp!

Braxton: They didn’t strip down to their skivvies. The men kept their pants on. How can a stripper keep his pants on? It’s still Disney.

Blake: Back at the wedding, Kathy asks finalist Faith Martin the question we’ve all had on our minds since she was eliminated after her hometown date: would she be willing to leave the dead horse buried in her backyard if the right guy came along? (The answer is yes.)


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