The Duggar family went to Knoxville, Tennessee, to attend the country-style church wedding of Michaella Bates and Brandon Keilen Saturday afternoon. Jana Duggar was one of the bridesmaids of long-time friend 25-year-old Michaella (also known as Michael). Pictured above is the entire Bates family clan.
Most of the Duggar family drove 700 miles to the wedding from their home in Arkansas. But Jill (Duggar) Dillard, her husband Derick, Jessa (Duggar) Seewald, her husband Ben, and Michelle Duggar took a commercial airline flight from New York City to meet up with the family. It is believed that the flying five were there for the filming of the TLC documentary about child sexual abuse, Breaking the Silence, which will air on August 30. Jana and Jill will be in the telecast, and although TLC is running the one-hour special without advertising sponsors, they will both be paid for their participation. Both girls were interviewed in June on The Kelly File, which aired on Fox News, and disclosed that they were sexually abused as children by their brother Josh Duggar.
The wedding took place at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church, a megachurch with 2,000 members. The ceremony was filmed by UP TV for the reality TV series Bringing Up Bates, now in its second season on the network. The Bates family became well known when they made frequent appearances on the Duggar family show, the now defunct 19 Kids and Counting on TLC.
The Bates family appeared on 13 episodes of the Duggar family series from 2008 to 2011. In March of 2012, the Bates family appeared in their own one-hour TV special, introducing their spin-off series on TLC, United Bates of America. The Bates family series premiered on August 13, 2012, airing eight episodes before it was cancelled by TLC.
The Bates family was featured in three more episodes of 19 Kids and Counting in 2013 – 2014. Last January, the family began a new reality TV series on UP TV, Bringing Up Bates. The series began its second season in June.
Like the Duggars, parents Gil and Kelly Jo Bates are also the parents of 19 biological children. Like the Duggar family, the Bates parents also homeschool their children using the controversial texts and methodology formulated by Bill Gothard.
With a long-standing friendship between these similar families, die-hard Duggar family fans speculate that there might be a Duggar/Bates marriage between the kids somewhere down the line. That speculation increased in January when Joseph Duggar, now 20, became a student at Crown Bible College in Knoxville, 30 minutes from the Bates family home in Rocky Top. The Bates’ house has become his home-away-from-home while attending school.
While Duggar family fans are watching that situation, all eyes will be on the next wedding scheduled for September 6 for cousin Amy Duggar.
[Intro photo of the Bates family is courtesy of UP TV]