In a conservative household like the Bates family, love stories are slightly different than the average romance. Interest is exchanged through occasional glances and blushes, couples court before engagement, and parents are sometimes heavily involved in the rule-making process. But despite these differences from mainstream romances, couples on the family’s reality TV show, Bringing Up Bates, still have cute and interesting (and sometimes even controversial) backstories. For Tori and Bobby Smith, for example, a whirlwind romance took the form of a musical performance on Valentine’s Day and a proposal that came sooner than expected. Josie and Kelton’s love story began with a piano recital and ended in a wedding years later.
Although every couple courts before marriage, they still have their unique tales to tell. Carlin and Evan Stewart, who recently became parents, are no exception. “We both have slightly different versions of the story,” Carlin explained in a YouTube video in which the couple shared the story, and a picnic, with their fans. Let’s take a look at their romance in more detail.
Evan and Carlin Stewart met at church
According to Evan Stewart, he met Carlin Stewart (née Bates) about almost a decade prior to their actual union as a family. The Bates family came to the Stewart family’s church to preach and sing, and out of all the details, Carlin specifically remembers Evan as standing out from that fateful day years ago. “You were like this blue-eyed short kid, with blue braces … going through your teenage years,” Carlin remembered with a smile during the couple’s YouTube chat about the origin story. She added, “That’s, like, the only thing that I remember that whole visit.”
Carlin was approximately 13 and Evan was 16 when they first crossed paths, they said in the video. Years passed, and the families would visit each other every now and then. But Carlin was always out of town “on mission trips,” and was also “in a relationship” at the time. “At this point, she was still a little bit younger than me, and at that age I wasn’t really thinking about that either,” Evan said, regarding his potential courtship with Carlin at the time.
What’s more, someone attempted to connect Evan with Carlin’s sister before they got together. “We look back and we laugh about it,” Carlin said.
Carlin Stewart had a burst of 'confidence'
What unraveled next was like a scene from a teenage movie. Fast forward a year or two later, and Evan Stewart’s church was hosting “a ladies conference” on September 17, 2016 (yes, Evan remembers the exact date), for which Carlin Bate’s mom was a guest speaker. “Now at this point, it had been several years since we met,” Evan said during the couple’s tell-all, how-they-met video. Carlin was about 18, and everyone had exchanged social media accounts. “I’m kinda like, ‘Man, this girl’s gotten cute,'” Evan said. “I was very attracted.”
Evan knew that Carlin would be attending the conference, and intentionally volunteered to help out for the event. Carlin hadn’t intended to go at first, but changed her mind “last-minute.” “And I look up in the cafeteria,” Evan said, adding, “And I see the most gorgeous, brownish-blondish-haired girl walk in,” wearing a “brown skirt” with a “white blouse.” Evan tried to work his nerves down, but kept pacing near her. “It was obvious to me,” Carlin said, saying she noticed that Evan blushed every time he walked by her.
“So finally, we’re all sitting there, and I’m like, ‘This is crazy,'” Carlin said about Evan not making his move. So when Evan was walking past her for the umpteenth time with a tray of sweets, she played her cards. “I don’t know where this confidence came from,” she explained, “and I was like, ‘Well hey stranger, aren’t you gonna say hey?'”
Romance with the help of social media — and Carlin's sister
All Evan Stewart needed was that bold nudge from Carlin Bates. Continuing the tale of their romance on YouTube, the couple dished about social media’s role in their courtship, specifically Carlin’s decision to unfollow Evan because he stopped making “funny videos.” In a flirty exchange, Evan suggested he would start making funny videos again if Carlin followed him once more. And what really cemented their meeting, in Carlin’s opinion, was Evan’s compliment on her hair, which was twisted into cornrows. According to Carlin, she and her sister had made a bet that if 10 people complimented her hairstyle that night, then Carlin would have made the right call in her choice of hairstyle.
As it turns out, Evan was the 10th person to praise her hairstyle — meaning his vote of confidence in her hair led Carlin to win her bet with her sister. The two families — Bates and Stewarts — went out for dinner together that night, which Evan considers their “first date.” Carlin’s sister, Erin, suggested that the two should start dating and even told Evan that Carlin had recently gotten “dumped.” When the families drove back, Evan and Carlin hung back to talk in the lobby of their hotel and even have a photo keepsake of that chat together. Later that weekend, Carlin became certain that Evan was into her when she saw his hands shaking.
To this day, the two disagree on whether Carlin really flirted that weekend or not. Regardless, the two are now happily married and have a daughter together, Layla Rae Stewart, born Jan. 31, 2020.
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