“Our love is as strong, or stronger than it ever was.”
It’s a wedding dress that spans generations. Yet, even after decades of wear, one thing hasn’t changed: the shop where the dress gets altered.
Carol Bates still remembers the day in 1957, when, as a teenager, she first walked into The Wedding Bell in Tacoma, Washington, and saw the white lace gown.
“My sister had said she would make my wedding dress for me, but we decided to go to look for some gowns just to get some ideas,” Bates, 78, told TODAY. “We stopped there to look and I found the dress of my dreams.”
They returned to the shop about 30 years ago when Bates’ daughter got married and wore the dress, and also 10 years ago when Bates had it altered to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary. And just this past weekend, Bates wore the dress again at a party celebrating her 60th wedding anniversary with husband Bob Bates, 86. Of course, she’d had the dress altered at The Wedding Bell.
“It’s a different owner (than in 1957), but with the same loving, genuine delight, they helped me get it all ready,” Bates said.
The shop said Bates is a valued customer.
“She’s such an adorable woman,” owner Kim 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! This is why I love my shop.”
Bates said she has plans to return to the shop for her 70th anniversary, too.
She met her husband when she was 14 years old, at a dance party with her parents.
“This guy walked by me and he winked and I blushed,” she said. “He asked me to the dance next Saturday, and I said, ‘I have to ask my folks.’ My parents said, ‘No, not alone, but if we happen to go to the dance, and he happens to be there, that’s fine.’ Well, we happened to be there and so did he.”
Soon after, Bob proposed, and Carol’s parents agreed that the pair could get married when their daughter finished high school.
“He’s my first fellow and my only fellow,” Bates said.
They went on to have four children, and on Saturday, they celebrated their anniversary by renewing their vows in front of family. As for the dress, it looked just as beautiful on Bates as it did the first time around.
“I must say our love is as strong or stronger than it ever was,” she said.
The couple also offered some advice for anyone curious about how to make love last.
“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,” she said. “We’ve learned that we all make mistakes. We admit our mistakes. We ask forgiveness, and we get up and we go forward.”
“The days sometimes seem a little long, but the years have just flown by!” she added.