When bride-to-be Carol Bates stepped into The Wedding Bell in Tacoma, Washington, in 1957, she laid her eyes on a beautiful white gown. She knew immediately that she’d found the perfect dress.
What she didn’t know was that the gown would be worn again and again for generations to come, making it a family symbol of lasting love.
About planning her wedding back in 1957, Bates told Today that her sister had intended to make her wedding gown, but once Bates saw the dress in The Wedding Bell, she knew she had to have it. The dress has been worn three more times since.
Thirty years after Bates’ wedding, her daughter, one of the four Bates children wore it at her own wedding.
Twenty years after that, Bates wore the dress for her 50th wedding anniversary, and wore it most recently for her 60th anniversary this past weekend, when the couple renewed their vows in front of friends and family.
All these years later, two things have remained the same in this dress’s long journey: love (of course) and The Wedding Bell. The couple has repeatedly returned to the store for alterations.
“It’s a different owner [than in 1957], but with the same loving, genuine delight, they helped me get it all ready,” Carol said. The feelings are mutual, as Kim Miller, the shop’s owner, says she loves helping Carol. “She’s such an adorable woman,” Miller told Today. “I bought the store 10 years ago and she came in right after to get the dress altered for her 50th anniversary, and now she’s back getting it altered for her 60th anniversary!”
The couple met when Carol was just 14. She and Bob spotted each other at a dance party with friends. Carol admits to blushing when Bob winked at her. He asked her to another dance the following weekend.
“My parents said, ‘No, not alone, but if we happen to go to the dance, and he happens to be there, that’s fine,'” Carol recalls. “Well, we happened to be there and so did he.”
Bob proposed as soon as Carol graduated from high school.
While the seams of the dress may be worn by now, the love Bob and Carol have for one another holds tight, even through ups and downs.
“No. 1, we’re not afraid to voice our opinion, but we respect one another and just because we have a different opinion, it doesn’t mean we don’t love one another. We’ve learned that we all make mistakes. We admit our mistakes. We ask forgiveness, and we get up and we go forward,”
Carol said, adding the couple’s love is as strong, or stronger now than it ever was.
Yep, they’re adorable. No doubt The Wedding Bell will be waiting for Carol’s next visit, just like we’ll be waiting for those new anniversary photos!