The moment the whole Duggar family (sans Jana) has been waiting for is finally here — after weeks of mind-numbing wedding prep episodes, it’s finally time for Joy and Austin to get hitched!
But before we see these two crazy kids walk down the aisle and awkwardly kiss for the first time in front of hundreds of strangers and a camera crew, TLC is “gifting” us with a two-hour special leading up to the big day. #blessed
The episode kicks off at the airport as the entire herd of 1,263 Duggars, children and spouses shuffle into the airport to welcome Jill, Derick and Israel back to civilization. They have been saving souls in the Central American jungle and seem to be relieved to be somewhere where you are not in immediate danger of being mauled by a jaguar at any given moment.
The family bombards them with signs, flowers and side hugs. Jill anxiously greets the smallest of the bunch, her new nephew Henry.
“Whoa, he’s huge,” she tells Jessa, who at that statement no doubt flashes back to when Hank’s big ol’ head passed through her gentleman greeter, ripping everything in its path.
Once the whole crew arrives back at the Duggar house, dress maker Ms. Renee comes over for Joy’s final fitting and once again, she’s the most excited person in the room. Joy swaps her normal denim skirt for her wedding dress and gives it her ho-hum seal of approval and her sisters follow suit.
Jessa tells her the dress “has its own look” and doesn’t look like anyone else’s, despite its uncanny resemblance to at least two of the dresses we’ve seen in seasons past.
Miss Renee looks over and exclaims “You’re next!” as the camera shows a close-up of both Kendra and Jana. For a split second, Jana looks hopeful until she realizes that Miss Renee was, of course, talking to the already-courting Kendra. Back to the kitchen, Jana! This is the first of many awkward Jana moments we’ll see during this special.
Later on, Joseph is all dressed up like he works at the Black Angus, sporting his best collared western shirt and cowboy boots, for a fun night with Kendra. Joseph is going to pick Kendra up and take her to Jessa and Ben’s House of Mold for dinner. But, of course, the couple needs to have someone with them during the drive over to make sure their knees don’t touch and no one gets any ungodly thoughts at red lights, so Kendra’s sister Lauren tags along.
She looks happy to be getting out of the house and getting a free meal. Unfortunately for Lauren, it’s Jessa who is cooking so she better plan to log some hours in the bathroom post-meal.
With weddings on the mind, Kendra and Joe ask Jessa and Ben for some relationship advice and Jessa advises, “When you know, you know” and “don’t wait around.”
It’s scary to think she’s the smart one in that marriage.
The next day we check in on Joy and Austin’s flip house, which is still in complete shambles. Austin says that he was hoping to have at least some of the house completed by the time he and Joy got hitched but, being two days out from their wedding, the place is not livable. Austin says that he and Joy will have to use Plan B (no—not that kind of Plan B, you heathens!) “Plan B” includes the newlyweds living in a camper for their first months of marriage while they work on their house.
Since there’s a good chance that Austin and Joy’s first “blessing” will be made in said camper, let’s hope they’re able to get out of there before Joy gives birth. Otherwise, she may have to give birth in the camper’s toilet stall (a la Anna), and that’s gonna be pretty tight.
Meanwhile, Joe has managed to get out of helping with wedding planning long enough to go ask Pastor Caldwell for Kendra’s hand in marriage. When Joe walks into Pastor Caldwell’s office, the pastor is pretending he doesn’t know what’s going on, despite solo Joe stopping by with a full camera crew.
After a painfully long pause and some Duggar flashbacks featuring all of Jim Bob’s son-in-laws having “the talk” with him, Kendra’s dad gives Joe his blessing. Another wedding is coming (and another season of ‘Counting On’ is basically secured!)
Back in the land of never-ending wedding prepping, Ms. Cindy enlists the help of “the A Team” (aka Kendra and the brothers and sisters that were tricked into doing manual labor) to load up some decor. Jason tells viewers he never thought of himself as the decorating committee type, but he’s been doing it for multiple weddings at this point so he must be pretty good at it.
He then spits some words of wisdom and tells viewers, “The saying goes, you better be careful at what you’re good at ’cause if you do, you’ll do a lot of it.”
Another proud graduate of Duggar Academy, y’all!. However, this statement kind of explains why Michelle has so many kids. Just sayin’…
Ms. Cindy then takes a moment to explain her vision for Joy and Austin’s wedding, which is to “bring the outside inside.” Translation: haul in some grass, wheat and a random assortment of flowers and weeds and throw it around the church.
At this point, is it even a Duggar wedding if Ms. Cindy doesn’t have a random crew of kids traipsing through fields and hacking stuff down?
Ms. Cindy and the A Team load up the allergy-inducing decorations and arches and get ready to head to the church. They run out of gas on the way to the church. (Just eat some of Jessa’s cooking– you’ll have plenty of gas, guys!)
Meanwhile, Jinger and Jeremy have made their way back to Arkansas. They arrive at the airport, and, unlike when Jill and Derick arrived, there are no Duggar youngins holding poorly spelled signs, no balloons and no welcoming party. It’s just a sad TLC camera crew who won’t even help poor Jing as she’s forced to unload a giant container of glass dishes she bought in Laredo.
Jing and Jer load up the dishes and haul them over to the church. No one acknowledges what a pain it must have been for them to bring a crapload of dishes with them on a plane (or the ungodly amount it must have cost to get them there.) Jinger tells us the dishes will be used to serve up quite the authentic Mexican taco feast for the rehearsal dinner—Mission flour tortillas, some shredded Kraft cheese and jarred salsa with plenty of “termatos.”
The next day, Joy’s siblings are ready to unveil their wedding gifts before the family takes off for the rehearsal. (We also get a glimpse of Anna in this scene. There’s no Josh in sight, thankfully, as that would be a gift to absolutely no one.)
Jessa tells us that “Jana” came up with a great idea to gift Joy something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. (It was actually Jessa’s crappy idea, though.)
Jessa & Co. first bring out the rusty old camping stove. Joy’s face tells us she literally has no idea why her sister is giving her this dusty piece of metal. Eventually they explained that it’s an old camping stove they dug out of Ye Olde Duggar Junk Pile.
But, don’t worry, “I think it works,” Jessa says.
Fantastic. Next they bring out the “Mr. and Mrs.” hardhats, the basket of Jessa’s used kitchen utensils and Jinger’s tin of random blue crap. It’s a haul fit for a king and queen (and/or the swapmeet).
There’s no time to take the gifted items back to Ye Olde Duggar Junk Pile, though. It’s time for the whole crew to head over to the church for the rehearsal.
Once they arrive at the church, Joy and Austin get their first glimpse of the wedding decorations, which honestly look like a Pinterest project gone awry. There are random flowers hanging from the ceilings, thrown on the floor and let’s not forget the aisle strewn with hay.
Joy does her best to look excited, but…did you ever see that episode of Trading Spaces where they glued hay to the wall and the woman was horrified and nearly speechless? Well, yeah, it was kind of like that.
Note to basically everyone: do not incorporate HAY into any sort of decorating task, unless you are creating a pumpkin patch. Just…no.
After a drawn out walk through, the crowd heads for the dinner space, also located in the church, where they can get their taco-making on. While the group is stuffing their faces with Mexican cuisine and lemonade, Joy’s matron of honor, Jill, hauls her pregnant self up on the stage and makes a speech about Joy being her own little baby doll growing up.
“When Joy was born, I said, ‘This one is mine!’” Jill remembers as the non-Duggars in the crowd laugh politely, trying to ignore how creepy that statement is.
Jill makes her toast like a proud mom because she basically had more of hand in raising Joy than own parents did. What’s funny is that no one in the Duggar family even tries to argue that point. In fact, many of the siblings tell stories about how Jill raised Joy from infancy. Oddly, no one thinks this is odd.
It’s FINALLY Joy and Austin’s wedding day and the bride and groom have arrived at the church.
Joy is in the bridal suite getting all gussied up when she reveals she has yet to decide how she wants to wear her hair or if she wants a veil. In an effort to escape the “stress” and copious amounts of Aqua Net being sprayed about, Joy sneaks out of the bridal suite to check out her soon-to-be husband in his suit.
Joy’s insecurity during this scene is just cringe-worthy. She peppers Austin with questions about how she looks, asking him if he likes her hair the way it is or if he’d rather her do something else? Does he want her to wear a veil?
“It’s really about what he wants,” she tells everyone.
Apparently Joy is going from Jill’s doll to dress up to Austin’s. Sigh.
Kendra also ditches the bridal suite so she can show off her cotton dress, cork wedges and curled hair to Joe, who tells viewers he’s getting antsy about popping the big question later that night. Joe admires Kendra’s curled hair in a very awkward exchange.
“I like your hair,” Joe tells Kendra.
“It’s half up, half down,” Kendra tells him for some reason. (Perhaps Joe’s eyes are still all watery from hacking down all that hay and he’s having a hard time seeing?)
Meanwhile, Joy’s wedding day is hitting Jinger in the feels and she says it makes her feel super old that her little sis is tying the knot.
We’re not even going to ask how this comment makes Jana feel, but you know you were thinking it too.
Meanwhile, the family is running around the church, doing last minute prep and/or wrangling various Duggar spawn. Somehow, Ben has managed to avoid doing anything annoying for most of the episode, which is truly a miracle.
Back in the suite, Michelle’s got her curly mop all poofed up like it’s Prom Night 1987. She gathers the girls around to reveal Joy in her wedding dress. Still incapable of making a decision for herself, Joy’s bridesmaids peer-pressure her into rocking her veil.
Jim Bob stops by to see his daughter and gets emotional because he’s going to have one less person to clean up after him at the compound. (Well, that and he’s giving away his last of-age daughter—save Jana– for a while, which sadly means a reduction of Duggar wedding specials.)
It’s here we realize that Jim Bob has legit worn the exact same gray suit for every single one of his daughters’ weddings. Each time one of his daughters gets hitched, Jimmy B– the multi-millionaire–pulls on his trusty gray frock, each time looking more wrinkled than the last wedding. By the time poor Josie (or, well, OK, Jana) gets married, he’ll be holding the suit together with SuperGlue!
Austin and Joy decide to do a “first look” before the actual ceremony, mainly so Austin won’t completely lose it in front of the crowd. After Joy makes her way down the aisle of horse feed, Austin tells her she smells good, although it’s probably the flowers hanging from the ceiling that he’s getting a whiff of. He then compliments her and says she’s the “most prettiest bride ever” … and then complains about his thighs being sore.
Wait until tonight, big boy!
The wedding party gets ready to file out into the church and Joy shares a moment (and some breath spray) with Jim Bob. Jennifer, who is not impressed by anything, bursts into tears as she realizes that her mom-sister, Joy, is leaving her.
After the 24-person brigade of Duggars and random friends are situated on the stage, Joy and Jim Bob head down the aisle through the hay. Austin is crying.
During the ceremony, Pastor Caldwell tells Joy and Austin that marriage is not a contract, but rather a covenant that should only be broken when one of the spouses dies. (Kudos to TLC for fighting the urge to pan the camera to Anna at this point!)
After the couple reads their vows — Austin doing so while fighting back tears — they sign them to seal the deal, although we have a feeling they were actually inking TLC contracts for the rights to film Joy having her first child in whatever recreational vehicle she happens to be living in at the time.
Austin’s parents and Michelle and Jim Bob join the couple on stage for a group hug/prayer while the loudest piano music in the history of Duggar weddings plays in the background. (They usually get that Bates girl to bang away on the piano for all their weddings, so we can assume this is her work.)
Joy realizes it’s time to kiss her groom. The two finally get to take their relationship up a step from side hugging and the room is equally (and creepily) as excited about it.
Austin must have been secretly watching episodes of 90210 or something because he comes in for the kiss all Dylan McKay style, grabbing Joy’s face in a sultry embrace before laying the kiss on her. It’s pretty impressive, especially for a fundy. (It sure as hell beats Jill and Derick’s first kiss where she basically lunged at his tonsils and almost knocked the poor guy over!)
As they exit the ceremony, Ms. Cindy surprises them with a Superbowl-style confetti cannon, causing Joy to shout, “Oh my cow!”
We’re just glad the excitement didn’t cause Jill to go into labor right there on the stage. Lord knows Jimmy B would be disappointed if the wedding special got combined with the birthing special!
It’s reception time and after the couple is announced, Joy keeps reminding the room that she and Austin won’t be staying for very long. Geez, Joy, keep it in your pants skirt a few more minutes and enjoy your reception. The Camper ‘o’ Love ain’t going anywhere!
After cutting the cake, Joy rounds up all the single ladies so she can pretend to throw her bouquet at them. She slyly pulls the fake-out and hands the flowers off to an unsuspecting Kendra as Joe emerges from the crowd and drops to one knee. Kendra says yes, despite admitting later that she couldn’t hear anything Joe said. Another Duggar wedding is in the works…just in time for the season finale!
“Another one bites the dust,” Josiah says. (TLC really should’ve considered making this statement the title of this episode.)
Kendra and Joe are basking in their engagement, and Austin decides to pop his head in between them and awkwardly croak, “NO KISSING!” Joe looks like he wants to flick Austin’s annoying face out of his special moment.
With another Duggar officially married and another one on deck, Joy shamelessly grabs Austin’s hand and pulls him off the stage, clearly anxious to go bang it out in the camper.
On the next episode, we’ll get a first look at Joe and Kendra’s wedding day! We may have to wait until next season to see the wedding planning episodes and find out what kind of foliage Miss Cindy will be stringing up at the church this time!
To read our other ‘Counting On’ recaps, click here!