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Golden Bachelor Gerry Turner Told Fiancée in the Fantasy Suite He Planned to Propose: ‘I Was Very Confident’ (Exclusive)

Turner got engaged to Theresa Nist on Thursday's season finale of 'The Golden Bachelor' — and they announced they'll be getting married on January 4

<p>Jim Wright</p> Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist

Jim Wright

Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist

The following post contains spoilers from Thursday evening's season finale of The Golden Bachelor.

On Thursday’s finale of The Golden Bachelor, Gerry Turner proposed to Theresa Nist — and she said “yes.” And then the pair announced they'll be getting married live on ABC on January 4, 2024.

Gerry, 72, tells PEOPLE he actually informed Theresa, 70, in the Fantasy Suite that he planned to pop the question.

“Part of our conversation in the Fantasy Suites [was] the first time really that I seriously told her that I loved her,” Gerry says. “It was almost an announcement of excitement. I said it three times in a row, ‘Theresa, I love you. I love you, I love you.’ And I go, ‘And I'm going to ask you to marry me. I don't know if you're going to say yes, but I'm going to ask you.’ So for me, when I got to the final episode and the engagement was about to happen, I was very confident that she was my person, 100 percent confident.”

<p>Jim Wright</p>

Jim Wright

Related: Golden Bachelor Gerry Turner Reflects on a Few 'Failures' Trying to Date After His Wife's Death (Exclusive)

While the retired restaurateur entered the finale feeling “confident that she was going to say ‘yes’ to me,” he acknowledges that Theresa “didn't quite have the whole story” going into proposal day.

“When she came down the walkway, she didn't know if she was the first person making that walk or the second person or the only person,” Gerry says.

Theresa didn’t know that Gerry already sent home fellow finalist Leslie Fhima. “​​Not once did I think I was the only person,” Theresa tells PEOPLE.

<p>Jim Wright</p> Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist

Jim Wright

Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist

Even with the heads up from Gerry, Theresa felt some hesitancy heading into the finale. “I was confident, but then, let's see, actually, if this really happens,” she says.

Of course, it did, and Theresa and Gerry ended the inaugural Golden Bachelor season engaged with plans to tie the knot in January. Theresa says that a lot of what went down in the Fantasy Suite led her and Gerry to that point.

“What they didn't see in the Fantasy Suites was everything,” she says. “When he presented me with the Fantasy Suite card, I was so enthusiastically accepting it because I really wanted to go in and delve deeper. And that's what we did. It was the first time I really showed my true personality to him. He did know, but not as in-depth.”

<p>Jim Wright</p> Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist

Jim Wright

Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist

Related: Gerry Turner 'Wholeheartedly' Supports a Golden Bachelorette as 1 Woman Tosses Her Hat in the Ring (Exclusive)

The Fantasy Suites proved just as pivotal to Gerry.

“In my head, I had this checklist of four or five things that, ‘I got to know this stuff,’” he says. “And so she accepted to go into the Fantasy Suite, and those four or five things, before I even had a chance to ask them, she was like, spouting it out there. She was like, ‘Okay, and this is going to happen, and I want you to know this and this.’ And it's like, ‘Oh my God, we are exactly on the same page.’”

Theresa says “it just clicked” for her and Gerry in that moment.

“After that episode, I called Theresa on the phone, and I said, ‘You know, I just watched myself fall in love with you,’” Gerry says.

Theresa, however, says she started catching feelings for Gerry right out of the limo.

“I walked out of that limo, not knowing or not expecting anything, just [that] there's a great adventure and maybe there would be love,” she says. “But getting out of that limo, I stood next to him and I went, ‘Oh my God, I'm so attracted to this man. I'm in real trouble.’ I got butterflies immediately.”

<p>Jim Wright</p> Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist

Jim Wright

Gerry Turner and Theresa Nist

Related: Golden Bachelor Gerry Turner Received His First STD Test for Show's 'Ridiculously Thorough' Vetting Process

Gerry gave Theresa his first one-on-one date, which she calls “over-the-moon spectacular.”

“She got my attention when I had the physical reaction to her putting her hand on my shoulder when we were in the Corvette,” Gerry says. “The headlights were failing and so forth, and I was really nervous. And she put her hand on my shoulder and I could physically feel the tension drain out of me. And it's like, ‘OK, now I know that I need to really pay close attention to this person.’”

The couple couldn’t stop talking on that first one-on-one, but they also paid close attention to what the other said.

“We were both able to talk nonstop and look at each other and still hear what the other person had to say,” Gerry recalls. “I got home that night. It's like, ‘That was pretty amazing.’ Usually you don't listen to the other person, and I was genuinely listening and I couldn't shut up. It was great.”

Although Gerry still had a whole pool of women left at that point, “I would keep going back and thinking of her,” he says of his now-fiancee. “There's a certain quality about Theresa that, whenever I hear her voice, whether it's in the background or on the phone, I almost chuckle because I know she's enthusiastic about whatever it is she's doing.”

Theresa admires similar qualities in Gerry. “He is so positive and outgoing and dynamic and has ambition and drive and is exciting,” she gushes. “He wants to have a really great life and he's excited about every single moment of his life, and I am too.We have a lot of fun and it's better and better every time we talk. We both know we made the right decision.”

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The Golden Bachelor can be streamed on Hulu. And The Golden Wedding will air January 4, 2024 on ABC.

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