Happy anniversary to Dolly Parton and Carl Dean! The two tied the knot on May 30, 1966, in Ringgold, Georgia. Parton was just 20 years old when she wed Dean, who was 21.
At the time of their nuptials, Parton’s now-legendary career was just beginning, and her record label, Monument Records, asked Parton to wait a year before getting married, an idea Parton rejected. But she did concede to marrying in Georgia, so the nuptials wouldn’t be announced in Tennessee newspapers.
“It was just my mother and Carl and me,” Parton told CMT. “We went across the state line to Ringgold, Georgia. My mother made me a little white dress and a little bouquet and a little Bible. But I said, ‘I can’t get married in a courthouse because I’ll never feel married.’ So we found a little Baptist church in town, and went up to Pastor Don Duvall and said, ‘Would you marry us?’ We got pictures on the steps right outside the church.”
Parton’s future mother-in-law had hoped that the young couple would have a big wedding, since her daughter also eloped. While that didn’t happen, Parton and Dean did have a big ceremony for their 50th wedding anniversary in 2016 — although they once again skipped a lavish honeymoon.
“I missed the big long wedding dress the first time, so this time, we went all out,” she said. “I wore a Steve Summers dress. Carl looked great in his suit. Then we went down to Ringgold again and spent the night in our camper, went out to the lake for a few days. I finally got to have the wedding that I never got to have.”
As for the secret to their longevity, Parton credits not only their romantic connection, but their friendship as well.
“My husband and I always had a great friendship,” Parton said (via People). “We’re both funny, and we both have a great and warped sense of humor so we’ve always had a good time. He’s pretty much a loner and a homebody, and I’m a gypsy. But when I’m home, I love that. We don’t do the same thing so it gives us different stuff to talk about. He doesn’t get involved in my business, and I don’t in his, so we have our own little world that we create for ourselves.”
The Country Music Hall of Fame member also credits her busy career with making their marriage so successful, especially since Dean opted not to travel with his superstar wife.
“I like it when people say, ‘How did it last so long?’ I say, ‘I stay going,’” Parton told ET Canada. “You know, there’s a lot to be said about that. So we’re not in each other’s face all the time. He’s not in the business, so we have different interests, but yet we have the things we love to do together. So it was meant to be, I think. He was the one I was supposed to have and vice versa.”
In 2022, Parton announced that she would no longer go on major tours, so she could spend more time with Dean.
“I do not think I will ever tour again, but I do know I’ll do special shows here and there, now and then,” Parton told Pollstar. “Maybe do a long weekend of shows, or just a few shows at a festival. But I have no intention of going on a full-blown tour anymore. I’ve done that my whole life, and it takes so much time and energy. … I like to stay a little closer to home with my husband.
“We’re getting older now, and I don’t want to be gone for four or five weeks at a time,” she continued. “Something could happen. I would not feel right about that, if I were gone and somebody needed me. Or I would feel bad if I had to leave a tour if somebody got sick at home and needed me and then I had to walk out on the fans.”