The Golden Bachelor featured Gerry Turner devastating Leslie Fhima and getting engaged to his winner, Theresa Nist, as well as a special wedding announcement for the happy couple during the season finale that aired Thursday night on ABC.
Gerry eliminated Leslie, a 64-year-old fitness instructor from Minneapolis, MN, in her hotel room during their last-chance date in Costa Rica, and then he chose and proposed marriage to Theresa, a 69-year-old financial services professional from Shrewsbury, NJ, at the Final Rose Ceremony in Costa Rica.
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“Theresa, I love you one thousand percent and I’m never going to stop believing. Every day, I choose you. Will you marry me?” Gerry asked, presenting Theresa with a diamond engagement ring.
“Yes!” Theresa shouted. “I love you so much!”
The Golden Bachelor finale kicked off live in studio with host Jesse Palmer teasing, “Get ready for an announcement that will leave all of Bachelor Nation stunned.”
He later added, “It’s going to shock you to your core. It’s that emotional.”
Footage then flashed back to Gerry’s final days with his Final 2 bachelorettes, Leslie and Theresa, in Costa Rica. Gerry explained that while his relationship with Theresa started off strong and then “lulled,” his overnight Fantasy Suite date with her changed everything.
“My heart has changed several times,” The Golden Bachelor star noted.
Theresa and Leslie proceeded to meet Gerry’s daughters Jenny and Angie and granddaughters Payton and Charlie one at a time in Costa Rica.
Gerry’s daughters could tell that Theresa made him happy, and Theresa’s story about having lost her husband and high school sweetheart — which was almost identical to Gerry’s story — brought his daughters to tears. It really bonded Theresa with The Golden Bachelor star’s family.
For Leslie’s part, Gerry’s family loved her infectious energy and sense of humor. Leslie shared how she finally wanted a “death do us part” bond with a man, which is something she never had in a relationship before. Leslie called Gerry the man of her dreams.
And both Leslie and Theresa told Gerry’s daughters that they were in love and would be ready to accept a marriage proposal from The Golden Bachelor.
“After we met Theresa, I loved her and Charlie loved her. We had our hearts set on Theresa, and now, like, Leslie, she is great! I’m getting emotional about it,” Payton shared with The Golden Bachelor cameras.
Gerry wouldn’t reveal to his kids if he had “knocked boots” with either woman, but he shared with them how Theresa was always a safe choice and there was nothing wrong with her or their relationship, which had become sweeter and deeper over time.
And Gerry gushed about how he had so much fun with Leslie and simply being around her. He told his daughters that they had a playful, teasing banter, and the women loved watching Gerry interact with the free-spirited bachelorette.
When The Golden Bachelor star said goodbye to the women, he was affectionate with Theresa and held her in his arms.
But when he said goodbye to Leslie, he was a bit cold and wouldn’t kiss her or reassure her.
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Leslie felt she could read Gerry pretty well, and she could tell that he wasn’t quite himself that day. She noticed his mannerisms were different, which caused anxiety to creep in a little bit. Leslie had to convince herself to stay cool and not overthink the situation.
After each family meet and greet, The Golden Bachelor star enjoyed one last date alone with each of the women in which he stopped by their respective hotel rooms.
Theresa’s night with Gerry was up first, and she explained how she was well aware there was still another woman in the process, and it made her nervous.
“I’m all inâ€¦ As hard as it would be for me, I wouldn’t want you to choose me if you weren’t one thousand percent wanting me and overwhelmingly wanting me. It would be difficult, but I wouldn’t want it unless that’s how you felt,” Theresa explained to Gerry.
Gerry replied, “I want you to know I won’t propose, nor will I give you a rose, unless I’m one thousand percent committed to what we have.”
“It would kill me if you didn’t,” Theresa admitted.
“It will be one thousand percent or nothing,” The Golden Bachelor star reiterated to Theresa.
Theresa began wondering whether Gerry had also said, “I love you,” to Leslie. She had no idea where she really stood, and that made her very fearful. She said she didn’t want to have a life without Gerry, yet she may be walking out of Costa Rica totally brokenhearted.
During Gerry’s night with Leslie, Leslie was still pretty confident in what she had with Gerry.
When Leslie mentioned that Gerry had seemed off earlier in the day, Gerry mentioned how his final decision was going to be very difficult and was weighing heavily upon him, and so he apologized for being a bit quiet.
The Golden Bachelor star asked Leslie to “start fresh again” after a bit of a “down dip.”
Leslie pictured getting engaged to Gerry — whom she said she adored and could picture being her best friend — and starting a life together, and she gifted The Golden Bachelor star a “manly” book of their memories together.
Gerry thought the gesture was very sweet, and he told Leslie that meeting her had been a blessing.
“You make me feel whole,” Leslie said.
“Thanks for that,” The Golden Bachelor star replied.
“I honestly can’t imagine being without you now,” Leslie shared.
“Mmm, that’s huge,” Gerry oddly responded.
“Anything else you want to tell me? Anything else you want me to hear?” Gerry asked.
“I love you very, very much,” Leslie said.
“That’s such a special sentiment,” The Golden Bachelor star noted. “I can feel it.”
But Gerry wasn’t saying anything romantic or reassuring to Leslie in reply. He didn’t profess his love, which he had done multiple times in the past. Leslie could clearly tell that Gerry had shut down, and so she started crying.
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As tears streamed down Leslie’s face and he hugged her, all he could manage to say was, “Be happy,” and then it was time for him to go.
When Leslie walked Gerry out and they had an emotional and tearful embrace by the door, Leslie asked him flat out if he had something he wanted to tell her.
The Golden Bachelor star shook his head No and just repeated how he had a “tough” decision to make and it was harder than he “ever thought possible.”
Once Gerry left, Leslie had lost all of her confidence, and then Gerry sat on a staircase outside and just bawled his eyes out. Leslie also put her head in her hands inside and just cried. Leslie knew Gerry was off that day, and she acknowledged, “I know exactly why.”
Knowing that Leslie recognized something had been off between them, Gerry returned to Leslie’s room, and she seemed taken aback and very worried.
“When you left, you asked me if there was something I had to say to you,” The Golden Bachelor star began.
“Go ahead,” Leslie said.
“It’s been very difficult and I’ve made a decision about how I want to go about this, and I have fallen in love with Theresa, and that’s the direction I’m going to take,” Gerry said.
Leslie shook her head and said, “So everything you told me the other night was a lie!”
“No, it wasn’t a lie,” The Golden Bachelor star insisted.
“Yeah it was,” Leslie clapped back. “Everything you told me the other night was a lie. Everything you told me the other night was a complete and utter lie!”
“No,” Gerry argued. “Because at that time, that was the truth. Things have changed and things have evolved.”
Leslie said she knew it and could tell by his face, and she pointed out how “they” weren’t off — “he” was off.
Leslie asked where she or they went wrong, and The Golden Bachelor star assured her that nothing went wrong.
“You’re both wonderful, but only one of you is right,” Gerry explained. “Leslie, I’m so sorry. Had I known this was the pain I would cause someone, I would’ve never taken the first step of this journey.”
Leslie just sobbed and sobbed, and when she started being self-deprecating and complaining about her life, Gerry asked her not to think that way.
“Gerry, no offense, I can think whatever the f-ck I want. I am heartbroken once again,” Leslie cried to The Golden Bachelor star
“But now I have to do it in front of the whole world. They’ll see, once again, how broken I am. You didn’t choose me. You didn’t choose me once again! The other night, you made it sound like you chose me!”
Leslie added, “You said things to me that made me think this was going to be it. You led me down a path and then you took a turn and you left me there!”
Leslie said it was “mind boggling” how Gerry could tell her that he loved her and then complete change his mind about 12 hours later.
Leslie said she had fallen in love with him and his family, but she thanked him for not embarrassing her at the Final Rose Ceremony, where she planned to wear a $60,000 dress and diamond earrings.
The Golden Bachelor star said there was probably nothing he could say or do to make her feel better, and Leslie confirmed that he was right.
But Leslie said at the end of the day, she wanted Gerry to be happy. Leslie pointed out how Theresa is a great girl and she had nothing bad to say about her — but she was blown away.
Leslie then joined Jesse live on After the Final Rose, and she admitted how she was “devastated” to be dumped by Gerry, especially because she felt “100 percent confident” after her overnight Fantasy Suite date with Gerry.
Leslie said she had fallen in love with Gerry’s daughters and granddaughters and that The Golden Bachelor star had given her so much affirmation and validation until that family meet and greet.
Leslie explained to Jesse how she had envisioned a life with Gerry after the show in which they’d walk his dog together and go out to restaurants, both in Indianapolis and Minneapolis. She said the breakup was such a shocking blow because Gerry had built her up so high to truly believe that he was going to pick her.
Gerry then joined Leslie onstage and they had an emotional hug upon their reunion.
Leslie told Gerry that she had fallen in love with him for so many reasons, including his sparkly blue eyes and how they made each other laugh. Leslie said she had been her authentic self with The Golden Bachelor star and all she wanted to do was make him happy and be together for the rest of time.
“But the most important thing I fell in love with was your integrity… I haven’t been with a man who has integrity like you. But because of your integrity, your words meant so much to me… I took them and put them in my heart,” Leslie said.
“Everyone knows what you said on-camera, but only you and I know what was said on the overnight. I’d never share that with anyone; it was our private time. But those words gave me 100 percent certainty that I was your girl and we were going to get engaged.”
Leslie explained how after The Golden Bachelor star left their date, she wasn’t scared or worried about his date with Theresa. She said she picked out a gorgeous dress and wrote her vows for what she thought was going to be the happiest day of her life.
“I was blindsided because I wasn’t sure how it changed or what happened,” Leslie recalled, adding how she thought she had fit in wonderfully with his family. “I feel like you painted a picture for me of what our life would look like… and I’d like to know what happened.”
Leslie recalled how she and Gerry had made plans together, and Gerry apologized.
Gerry explained how he had given every woman his complete commitment and undivided attention throughout the season, and so he’d get caught up in moments and say, “I love you,” although he meant those words in those moments.
“You were the person I believed was my person until I suddenly knew you weren’t,” The Golden Bachelor star confessed.
“It didn’t really go wrong, Leslie, it was just better with someone else. It was the right person in another direction, and I’m so terribly sorry. I’ll never forgive myself for the pain I’ve caused along the way.”
Gerry wished he could’ve broken up with one woman after the next in a more gracious manner, and he pointed out how he’s human and could’ve done things better
“I don’t know if I accept your apology, but I understand it,” Leslie declared.
The Golden Bachelor star told Leslie that he’d always care for her and cherish their memories but Theresa was the one person that he couldn’t live without.
Leslie, however, said she wouldn’t change Gerry saying, “I love you,” to her if she could because it opened her heart again and made her realize that she’s capable of loving — and being loved — in that way.
Leslie told Gerry that she was going to open her heart again to hopefully find the man of her dreams. Leslie added that she wasn’t angry, she was just hurt, and she wanted Gerry and Theresa to be happy together.
“I’m hoping and praying that you find happiness in your own way,” The Golden Bachelor star concluded. “Your confidence and hope and humor that you brought is so incredibly attractive to so many men. You should enjoy your near future.”
Footage then flashed back to Gerry’s Final Rose Ceremony in Costa Rica. Gerry thought Toni would approve of his decision to propose marriage again, and Theresa was hoping for a fairy-tale proposal with Gerry down on one knee, which is something her late husband, Billy, hadn’t done.
Theresa walked into the Final Rose Ceremony feeling concerned, but when The Golden Bachelor star caught eyes with her, she made him feel secure and calm. Gerry gushed about how Theresa is kind, smart, perceptive and intuitive, which were all the things he had been looking for.
When Theresa and Gerry reunited on a platform in a beautiful green setting, Theresa said how love isn’t just for the young and she was so “madly in love” with Gerry. Theresa said how life wasn’t over for them and the best was yet to come.
Theresa told Gerry that he’s the most wonderful man in the world and she never wanted to let him go. In fact, she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.
The Golden Bachelor star, in turn, said he and Theresa had so much in common in their past.
“When I woke up this morning, it was difficult. I had really mixed feelings, and I got to the point with the questions I had asked myself about how I got here and [whether she’s] the right girl, and I came to the realization that you’re not the right person for me to live with,” Gerry explained.
Theresa suddenly appeared shocked and crushed — until Gerry noted, “You’re the person I can’t live without.”
Theresa and Gerry hugged tight, and Theresa seemed completely ecstatic and relieved. She even shouted, “That was so good!”
Gerry then proposed marriage to Theresa and presented her with a ring, and she said, “Yes,” before professing her love to The Golden Bachelor star once again.
“I don’t ever want to be without you,” Gerry said.
Theresa called herself the happiest woman in the world, and then Gerry gave Theresa a beautiful golden rose, which will last forever and never wilt. It was a symbol of Gerry and Theresa’s love forever, and she accepted the rose wholeheartedly.
The Golden Bachelor star’s children and grandchildren ran out and congratulated the happy couple, and Gerry said he felt the fulfillment of a dream.
On After the Final Rose, Jesse welcomed Gerry and Theresa on the stage together, and the couple gushed about how it felt amazing to finally be out in the open together. Theresa hadn’t told her sisters about her engagement, and so she gleefully waved at them watching at home.
Theresa recalled how she thought The Golden Bachelor star was breaking up with her during his final speech, which made her die inside for a moment, but then she thanked God when Gerry informed her that she’s The One for him.
Jesse asked Gerry what changed for him during his Fantasy Suite with Theresa, which clearly resulted in him choosing her, and Gerry joked, “Do you ask your parents what happens on overnight dates?”
“I knew I should not have asked,” Jesse playfully replied with a disturbed look on his face.
But The Golden Bachelor star explained how he learned behind closed doors that Theresa knows how to nurture and maintain a relationship, and he said so many things were revealed in conversation that put his doubts or red flags to rest.
“If he’s not going to tell you exactly what happened in the Fantasy Suite, I’ll tell you. I knocked his boots off!” Theresa announced, which made Gerry’s jaw drop to the floor.
Once there were shocked expressions from everyone in the audience, including from Gerry’s kids, Theresa clarified, “With my kisses! I am a really good kisser!”
Theresa revealed how her post-show relationship with The Golden Bachelor star has been “really great” and they talked on the phone every single night as the season aired, sometimes for up to three hours.
Theresa said they fought over who was going to hang up first and they laughed all the time together.
Gerry’s daughters then announced how they think Theresa is a “fabulous” woman and they couldn’t love them together any more.
At the end of After the Final Rose, Jesse surprised The Golden Bachelor’s newly-engaged couple with a romantic trip to Italy since that’s a country they’ve both always wanted to visit.
“That really is very convenient,” Gerry announced. “We can use that as our honeymoon trip because we are going to get married, and we’re going to do it as quickly as we can! Because at our age, we don’t have a lot of time to waste.”
Gerry added, “As quickly as we can put together a wedding plan, we’re getting married!”
Jesse then shared with viewers how everyone is invited to the wedding. Gerry and Theresa’s wedding is going to air live on Thursday, January 4, 2024 on ABC.
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About The Author:
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.