Justin Duggar announced that he is engaged today, the day after he turned 18.
The teenage Counting On star and his wife-to-be, 19-year-old Claire Spivey from Texas, confirmed their impending marriage on TLC’s website today, within hours of Justin’s 18th birthday.
‘There is nothing comparable to finding the one you are meant to spend your life with. We know we have found that in each other,’ the couple said in a joint statement. ‘We cannot wait to be married and are looking forward to a life together of faith in Christ, love for one another, and happiness!’
Children in love: Justin Duggar, 17, announced that he is engaged to 19-year-old Claire Spivey from Texas
Babies buying baubles: ‘We cannot wait to be married and are looking forward to a life together of faith in Christ, love for one another, and happiness!’ they said
No time to waste! Both fundamentalist Christians, the couple only just announced that they were courting in September
The couple posed together for an engagement shoot, which included images of Claire’s diamond ring.
‘So excited to announce that we are engaged!!’ Justin wrote on Instagram. ‘I will never forget the look on her face when I slid the ring on her finger. We look forward to the day that we get to begin the rest of our lives together!’
The announcement has remarkable timing, given that Justin only reached the legal age to marry without parental permission yesterday, November 16. (In Arkansas, children can marry at age 17 with parental consent.)
Both the Duggar family and Justin’s future in-laws marked the occasion on Instagram.
‘With Claire in his life we know this is already a wonderful year for Justin!’ the official Duggar Instagram account wrote. ‘We pray the Lord will continue to bless and guide both of them as they seek Him and grow together!’
Claire’s mother also wrote a birthday message, as captured by Redditors, though she appears to have since deleted it.
Redditors who watch the Duggar family closely have also speculated that this engagement has been official for some time, pointing to a photo of Claire and Justin wearing the same clothes from their engagement shoot a week ago.
Legal at last: Justin’s parents, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, wished him a happy 18th birthday on Instagram on Sunday
He’s a grown-up, now! Justin announced his engagement the day after he became legally able to marry without parental consent
Behind-the-scenes? But Duggar-watchers say they’ve likely been engaged for some time, pointing to this photo of them in their engagement shoot clothes a week ago
Certainly, things are moving very quickly for the teenage lovebirds. It was only September that Justin and Claire first announced that they were ‘courting’ — the Duggar’s preferred term for dating with a purpose of finding a husband or wife.
Justin — the 14th of 19 kids — was just 17 at the time of the announcement on TLC’s Counting On, which was likely filmed months before it aired in mid-September.
Fans speculated that they’d actually been courting for months when the news went public, and in a post shared on her Instagram to celebrate the engagement, Claire confirmed that the couple have been together for 14 months, having first started ‘dating with purpose’ when Justin was just 16.
Speaking to Us Weekly at the time, Justin said: ‘God brought Claire in my life and I wasn’t really expecting it, but he brought her along right when I needed her.
‘Ever since then, I just knew that she was the one. Claire has a lot of good qualities and I can sit here and tell you all of them, but there are so many good things that Is see in her. I’m so blessed to have her in my life.’
Claire added: ‘Justin and I’s families have known each other for over 20 years so before he or I were even born, and then we got connected last year.
‘I’m really looking forward to the memories to come spent with him. I’m excited to see what the Lord holds for us in the near future.’
When abstaining in mandatory: Justin and Claire announced their courtship in September, and for Duggars, that usually means an engagement is imminent
Just kids! At just 17 years old, Justin was officially the youngest in his family to enter into a courtship
Getting handsy! He and Claire ‘met at a family conference,’ but their families have known each other since before they were born
Justin and Claire filmed a reveal to his family for the Counting On finale on TLC, with Justin sitting down for a group video call with most of his family in Arkansas while visiting Claire and her family in Texas.
‘I actually do have some news for the family. And I figure while we’re all together I can introduce someone to you guys,’ he says before a teenage girl sits down next to him.
‘This is Claire and we are now in an official relationship,’ he says,
‘My big announcement is I’m in a relationship with Claire Spivey,’ he adds in another recording.
‘Claire is 19 and I am 17. Me and Claire met at a family conference not to long ago. It was several months after, I talked with her dad and asked if I could start a relationship with her.
‘She’s really outgoing and very sweet and nice,’ he says.
Meanwhile, Claire shared another message about their courtship on Instagram, writing: ‘Words will never express the depth of my love and admiration for this amazing man! He is the most tenderhearted person, and every moment spent with him is treasured.
Telling the family: Justin recorded himself telling his family via video call for an episode of Counting On
He knows her so well! ‘She’s really outgoing and very sweet and nice,’ Justin says
She’ll be popping out babies in no time! ‘Words will never express the depth of my love and admiration for this amazing man!’ Claire said
‘I’m so thankful for the man of God that he is. Whether we are in person, or long distance, he cherishes and loves me unconditionally. His example to me and all he meets, is unlike any other. I am the most blessed woman on earth to be in a relationship you. I’ll love you forever.’
With the announcement, Justin became the youngest member of his family to officially enter a courtship — and now, he is the oldest to get engaged.
Nearly all of Justin’s older siblings began their courtships at young ages, and were married remarkably young as well.
His oldest brother, sex pest Josh, was just 19 when he entered into a courtship with Anna, who was also 19. They were married at age 20 and now, both 31, have six kids.
Jessa, now 27, announced a courtship with Ben in September 2013, when she was 20. At 21, she married a then-19-year-old Ben Seewald, and they now have three children.
Little: Sex pest Josh was just 19 when he entered into a courtship with Anna, who was also 19. They were married at age 20 and now, both 31, have six kids
The rules: Jessa announced a courtship with Ben when she was 20. She was 21 and he was 19 when they married. They are pictured on a double date with his parents during their courtship
Flashback: Jill, now 29, was 22 when she began courting Derick Dillard. Derick asked her officially when Jill visited him in Nepal, with dad Jim Bob tagging along (pictured)
Jill, now 29, was 22 when she began courting Derick Dillard, and they married seven months later. They now have two sons.
Jinger, now 26, was 22 when she married Jeremy Vuolo, who is now 32, and they are currently expecting their second child.
Joseph was 22 when he married a 19-year-old Kendra Caldwell — who is pregnant with their third — and Josiah was 21 when he married Lauren Swanson, then 19. They have one daughter.
Joy Anna was just 19 when she married a 23-year-old Austin Forsyth. They just welcomed their second child.
Only John David was an ‘older’ groom, marrying Abbie when he was 28 and she was 26.
At 30, John David’s twin Jana is still single, as are 21-year-old twins Jedidiah and Jeremiah, 20-year-old Jason, and 19-year-old James.
Parental supervision: Jinger, now 26, was 22 when she married Jeremy Vuolo, who is now 32. They, too, went on supervised dates
Moving fast! Joseph was 22 when he married a 19-year-old Kendra Caldwell — who is pregnant with their third
Just babies! Josiah was 21 when he married Lauren Swanson, then 19
Longtime friends: Joy Anna was just 19 when she married a 23-year-old Austin Forsyth. They just welcomed their second child
Waiting it out: Only John David was an ‘older’ groom, marrying Abbie when he was 28 and she was 26
For the Duggars, a courtship means strict rules governing interaction and physical contact. Justin and Claire would have been limited to side-hugs — frontal hugs being too much of a temptation — and likely saved holding hands for an engagement.
The Duggars also wait until their wedding day for their first kiss.
Justin and Claire will always have a chaperone in the room to supervise, though that doesn’t have to be someone older or wiser. Younger Duggar siblings, including young children, have served as chaperones for dates in the past, giving the couple ‘accountability’ so they don’t do anything they’re not supposed to.
In the past, all text messages between unmarried Duggars and their romantic partners have been in group chats with parents Jim Bob and Michelle there to read everything.