Derick and Jill Duggar Dillard's 'Covenant Marriage' Explained
After getting to know each other online, they met in person in Nepal, began an old-fashioned courtship and wed this summer. Jill Duggar Dillard and husband Derick, now expecting their first child – a boy! – started their marriage with a high level of commitment.
Fans of TLC’s hit reality show 19 Kids & Counting get to see the couple’s nuptials in the special, 19 Kids & Counting: Jill’s Wedding, airing Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET, where the couple chose a “covenant marriage” in Arkansas – making divorce more difficult.
“I signed their covenant marriage certificate,” Derick’s mom, Cathy, 57, told PEOPLE after the couple said their I Dos. “It was so special. But it wouldn’t matter if they chose that type of marriage certificate or not, those two would still have a covenant marriage.”
In Arkansas, where the couple married, the covenant marriage law allows for couples to agree up front that they will seek counseling before a divorce could be granted. It also offers more limited grounds for divorce – and increases the time that a separation has to be in place before a divorce can be granted.
“This is a time we have prayed for for 23 years,” Jill’s father, Jim Bob, 50, told PEOPLE at the wedding. “As Jill and I were out in the hallway waiting to come in, I thought about how Michelle and I got married 30 years ago. I couldn’t hold back the tears thinking I was giving away my daughter. It was an exciting time, but it was also a time of a lot of emotion.”
Jim Bob and his wife Michelle, 49, will be experiencing giving another daughter away soon – their daughter Jessa, 21, and fiancé Ben Seewald, 19, will walk down the aisle Nov. 1.
“Jill has always been a sweet older sister,” Jessa said at her sister’s wedding. “Whenever I had a tough time, she would always have an encouraging word for me and a smile on her face.”
The wedding, attended by over 1,000 family and friends in Springdale, Arkansas, included the very first kiss between Jill, 23, and Derick, 25.
“It looked like he had been thinking about that first kiss and how he was going to do it for quite some time,” said Derick’s former college roommate, Stephen Jones, 25. “He dipped her pretty smoothly, I thought. And he was able to connect on the lips – that’s what we are looking for.”
When the wedding airs this week, intimate looks at the ceremony and reception may offer some surprises.
“The whole Duggar family may have some surprises in store,” Jones added. “Derick has a very goofy personality and it hasn’t quite shown it all. There’s more to come. But as a couple, Jill and Derick fit together very well – from their personalities, their love for each other and their hearts for God.”