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Jessa Duggar, Erin Bates herald in new 2014 season of '19 Kids and Counting'

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On Feb. 18, TV By the Numbers revealed that the super-sized Duggar family would return for an eighth helping of “19 Kids and Counting” when the new 2014 season premieres on April 1. The best news is that Jessa Duggar’s courtship and Erin Bates's wedding will both be featured during season eight.

For the premiere episode of “19 Kids and Counting,” the Duggar family announces that Jessa and Ben Seewald are courting. It’s no surprise to longtime Duggar fans because “People” broke the news back in Sept. 2013. However, viewers will be able to watch the Duggar boys put Ben to the test, making sure that he’s ready to take care of their sister. Later, the tables are turned when Jessa visits Ben’s hometown and gets hit with some serious questions during a double date with Ben’s parents. Plus, the whole family reflects on what it means that a Duggar daughter may soon be leaving the nest.

Jessa and Ben met in church and began texting each other, after asking for permission to do so. Michelle Duggar was happy with the match and said, “They share very similar beliefs. It has been fun to watch them.” Other rejected suitors have called in the past, but Ben made the selective cut. “He’s the first one she has shown interest in that has a spiritual focus and legitimate calling about ministry work,” Jim Bob told "People." He added, “When a guy is pursuing your daughter, you want to check him out and see if there are any red flags. With Ben, there haven't been any. It appears like a match made in heaven."

Like Josh and Anna did back in 2008, Jessa and Ben plan on saving their first kiss for their wedding day. In the meantime, they’re allowed to hug briefly to say hello or goodbye. “They want to wait on the physical relationship until later,” Michelle explained.

Erin Bates will also be featured during the new 2014 season of “19 Kids and Counting.” She married Chad Paine on Nov. 23 and the Duggar family was on hand for the touching occasion. Like Erin, who has nine brothers and nine sisters, Chad also comes from a large family. He’s the second oldest child in his super-sized family of five brothers and four sisters. Erin and 25-year-old Chad met on Valentine’s Day three years ago. Erin stated on "19 Kids and Counting,", “For me, it was like love at first sight.” Chad asked Gil Bates if he could court his daughter and was granted permission. “The more I learned, the more I loved,” Erin said. During their courtship, Erin and Chad never held hands, but instead focused on getting to know each better.

The new season of “19 Kids and Counting” will explore a changing family dynamic as the Duggar children continue to grow up. The four eldest Duggar girls – Jana, Jill, Jessa and Jinger – announce that they have written a book, “Growing Up Duggar,” which releases nationwide on March 4, 2014. The book shares never-before-told stories of life in a large family, the qualities that the girls are looking for in a man, their passion for making a difference in the world, navigating the difficult years from being a little girl to becoming a young lady, their dreams for the future and more. For more information on “Growing Up Duggar,” head to the Simon and Schuster website.

The new 2014 season of “19 Kids and Counting” premieres on TLC on Tuesday, April 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. It will include ten new episodes, all scheduled to air in the same time slot on Tuesdays through May.

More about the Duggar family from "19 Kids & Counting"
The super-sized Duggar family includes mom Michelle, dad Jim Bob, plus children Joshua, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jeremiah, Jedidiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn and Josie. The family resides debt-free in Arkansas and stars in a weekly reality TV series on TLC called "19 Kids & Counting."

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