'The Bachelor' wedding: What you didn't see on TV

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If you’re like me, rose lovers, you were perfectly content to watch The Bachelor: Sean and Catherine’s Wedding from the comfort of your own couch. But a few weeks ago, I received word that 84-year-old Bachelor superfan — and occasional EW.com Bachelor correspondent — Nanny, wanted to be there to witness Sean and Catherine’s special day. Clearly, I had to make this happen. After telling the good people at ABC and Warner Bros. about Nanny (and sending them some links to her brilliant commentary, like this, and this, and this), they knew there was simply no way this wedding could proceed without her. And so Nanny and her daughter Brenna packed their bags and flew from Oklahoma to Santa Barbara, where I met them at the Four Seasons Hotel two hours before the ceremony began.

As we waited to be escorted to the garden where the ceremony was being held, we watched a steady stream of former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants — Jason and Molly, Trista and Ryan, Desiree and Chris — filter through the lobby in their formal attire. Bachelor ring master Neil Lane made an appearance, as did Sean’s fellow Dancing with the Stars contestants Lisa Vanderpump and Andy Dick. “We really bonded on Dancing with the Stars,” Andy told us. Doing the show, he said, was “like being in the basement with someone during a hurricane. We bonded because we were in hell!”

Eventually some black-clad crew members ushered us outside into a sort of patio/holding pen area, where guests drank wine and huddled around space heaters. Fortunately this gave us some time to snap lots of pictures of Nanny with some of her favorite citizens of Bachelor Nation, including Jason and Molly, Chris and Des, Trista and Ryan, Ashley and JP, and Arie Luyendyk. (“I like Arie real well,” she purred after the handsome race car driver was out of earshot.) By this time it was about 5:15 pacific time, so the broadcast had already begun on the east coast, and the producers were having guests file into the ceremony in groups during the commercial breaks. Once at our seats, we were instructed not to sit down, because periodically the camera would go live to host Chris Harrison — who was standing atop a platform in front of the rows of seats — and I guess seeing a bunch of people sitting down behind him with their backs to him would have looked odd on TV.

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While guests waited for the big event to begin, they chatted with each other and shivered in the chilly, 56-degree night air. It was so cold that eventually Lisa Vanderpump wrapped her little dog Giggy — yes, she brought Giggy — in a blanket. Trista and Ryan took a selfie, while nearby Ashley insisted that pregnant DeAnna Stagliano — former Bachelorette DeAnna Pappas, who’s now married to Bachelor Pad champ Michael Stagliano’s brother — sit in the cushioned arm chair in their row rather the regular hardback chair. Later DeAnna, Trista, Ashley, and Ali gathered together to pose for a Bachelorette all-star snapshot.

We weren’t allowed to sit down until about 6:15, when Sean and Catherine’s grandparents walked down the aisle. Shortly after that, three crew members stood at the altar — two of them clasping hands and one of them “officiating” — to give the camera team and lighting crew a chance to make sure everything was in order before the happy couple arrived. Next, Sean Lowe appeared and strode down the aisle with his mom, Sherry, and dad, Jay, who accompanied him up to the altar to officiate. It was time for the endless procession of bridesmaids and groomsmen, and as they arrived guests could hear the director barking orders and giving feedback to his team. “They came out really fast and they’re talking to each other!” he barked into his headset after the first couple proceeded down the aisle. Once the entire party was assembled, it was time for the big moment… a commercial break!

When the cameras weren’t rolling, guests resumed their conversations and checked their phones, while Sean stood quietly at the altar, his eyes fixed on the arch at the end of the garden where his bride-to-be would emerge. Finally, the music began to play (a tropical-sounding instrumental version of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”) and Catherine arrived, flanked by her parents. Though guests were asked to keep their phones away during the ceremony, I spotted several folks taking stealth videos and snapshots, including Arie, who leaned over his seatmate (and former rival for Emily’s love, Jef Holm) to get a shot of Sean and Catherine taking their vows.

The majority of the ceremony aired on TV, though part of it continued through a commercial break, as Jay led the guests in a prayer for Sean and Catherine. “We pray, Father, that you will strengthen their love day by day,” he said, adding that he hoped for them to live as “ambassadors for Christ.” During this lovely moment, a cameraman ensconced in the bushes to the right of the stage let out a loud burp — his second of the night — but I’m hoping it was drowned out by Jay’s amplified voice. Despite the long wait for the ceremony to begin, it apparently didn’t take long enough to fill all two hours. After Sean and Catherine were declared man and wife and the processional filed back down the aisle, the director’s voice rang out: “How much time do we have to kill?” Though all of the guests were thinking Please God don’t let it be more than a minute because we are freezing!, the director informed us that we should move into the aisle and “mingle” so that Chris Harrison could interview JP and Ashley on camera about the beautiful celebration of reality TV romance they had just witnessed.

And with that, it was a wrap for the fourth ever Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise wedding. And Nanny, for one, was over the moon. “I think it was something extra special that Sean’s dad did the service,” she told me. Her eyes were shining, and I asked her if she cried during the ceremony. “Of course!” she answered. “And I’m not wiping these tears off!” (Much like Marcia Brady, who’ll never wash her cheek again.)

Her magical evening wasn’t over yet, though. As we were leaving the garden to go back inside, ever-gallant host Chris Harrison approached us to say hello and pose for a picture with Nanny. “I think you should be the next Bachelor,” Nanny told him. But Nanny, we asked, who would host the show without Chris? “I’ll host the show!” she replied. (Your move, Mike Fleiss!) Just before we left the hotel to go back to our regularly scheduled lives, Nanny offered two final thoughts on the evening. “If I die tomorrow, I’ll die with a smile on my face,” she told us. And then, “I need to slip Sean my business card with my phone number on it… just in case it doesn’t work out.”

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