Exclusive: Engaged Olympians Madison Chock & Evan Bates Share Their Top Wedding Planning Tips

Plus, the ice dancers tease what to expect from their upcoming Hawaiian nuptials.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates at ISU World Figure Skating Championships
Photo: Joosep Martinson - International Skating Union/International Skating Union / Getty Images
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
by
Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Entertainment & Celebrity Editor
  • Sarah is the Entertainment & Celebrity Editor for The Knot, with special focuses on pop culture and celebrity wedding news.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated May 07, 2024

Falling in love with your ice dancing partner might sound like something that only happens in a romance novel—but for Madison Chock and Evan Bates, it's their real-life love story. The decorated skaters, who won gold with Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympics, began as partners more than 10 years ago. Over time, their relationship shifted from platonic to romantic. After Bates bravely made the first move, the two embarked on a love story that's more beautiful than any medal.

Off the heels of the 2024 World Figure Skating Championship—in which the athletes won first place, solidifying their first undefeated season together—the two have been hard at work planning their summer wedding. Ahead of their destination celebration, we caught up with Evan Bates and Madison Chock to chat about their wedding planning journey, along with the sweetest details from their love story…including how *exactly* they went from partners on the ice to partners for life.

In this article:

Inside Madison Chock and Evan Bates' Love Story

Long before they became decorated Olympians and world champions, Madison Chock and Evan Bates were teenagers with dreams of becoming professional ice dancers. While they both started skating as children, it wasn't until 2011 that they were paired together. It's because of their early camaraderie, they say, that their partnership works so well on and off the ice.

"Our friendship is the core of our relationship, because we were friends for so long before we ever started dating," Bates tells The Knot in an interview. "We've known each other since we were teenagers, and then we started skating together for five years as just partners. Then," he smiles, "we sort of became off-ice partners."

Although their partnership was strictly professional for the first few years, they both admit they developed feelings for each other. "As we matured and grew on the ice, we went through competitive highs and lows that bonded us so much," Bates continues. "At a certain point, I had more than just platonic feelings for Madi."

Eventually, he mustered up the courage to tell her how he felt. "I think it took her by surprise," he laughs. "I don't think she was expecting it. But at the same time, a lot of people around us were like, 'Yeah, duh, they like each other.'"

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it wasn't hard for the duo to explore a romantic relationship when their professional rapport was already so strong. "Our communication makes this work," Chock explains. "Our job is to glide and dance with each other and create art on the ice. We're so lucky, and we're passionate about what we do."

Due to the demanding nature of their careers, ice dancers spend the majority of the year training, competing in tournaments, and traveling to international matchups. In fact, Bates and Chock say they only take two to three weeks off per year. Throw in the added training needed to participate in the Olympics, and it doesn't leave much free time for extracurricular activities.

As is common with many Olympians, athletes tend to plan their lives in four-year cycles around the Games and other important competitions. Following the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, the couple knew they wanted to get engaged quickly so they could have their dream wedding before training picked up again.

After going engagement ring shopping together in New York City (and finding the perfect vintage Art Deco design from Andria Barboné), Bates decided that the perfect date to propose would be June 11, 2022: a nod to their six years of dating and 11 years of skating together. The special moment occurred during a trip to Thailand—and although it rained on the day Bates wanted to pop the question, the weather miraculously cleared up for an oceanfront proposal.

"I was surprised," Chock says of the special moment, acknowledging that it's hard to keep secret plans under wraps when they spend so much time together. "He put so much thought into it."

Madison Chock and Evan Bates' Wedding Vision

With a potential run at the 2026 Winter Olympics on their radar, Madison Chock and Evan Bates wanted to get married in 2024 to leave plenty of time for training…should they decide to go for a second consecutive gold medal, that is.

Although they aren't in the thick of Olympic prep just yet, they had plenty of other tournaments on the calendar, including the 2024 Worlds in March. Considering their busy schedule, one of their first wedding planning accomplishments was hiring a wedding planner—Sandra Williams of Finishing Touch Events—to help coordinate their Hawaiian celebration. "We hired [Sandra] around December 2022," Bates recalls. "It's been essential to have a planner that takes everything off our plate, especially for a destination wedding. Given our competition and training schedule, it's been nice to do it in phases."

With their wedding day quickly approaching, here's a peek inside Madison Chock and Evan Bates' wedding vision.

The Vibe

Thanks to the colorful setting, the fiancés are letting Hawaii's natural beauty influence the overall feeling of their wedding day. "The vibe is tropical garden elegance," Chock explains. "It'll be minimal and simplistic, with lots of flowers."

The Venue

Chock and Bates will swap vows at a cultural institute overlooking the water, which they say is rich in history and island charm. "The natural beauty of [the venue] is so strong that we could just leave it alone," Bates says. To truly transport their loved ones to an enchanting oasis, though, the couple has worked with their florist to conceptualize unique flower arrangements that'll enhance the setting.

One of the biggest learnings they picked up along the way is that visiting your venue in person is key for finalizing your vision with your vendors—and they urge all to-be-weds to prioritize tours IRL. "We were able to go to Hawaii this past December and meet [our planner] in person, see the venue, and do the food and drink tasting," Bates explains. Adds Chock: "It was so great that it worked out, because we weren't sure if we were going to make it before the wedding. I'd say it's absolutely essential to check the venue, because there were some things we realized we could make a few adjustments to".

The Fashion

Madison Chock and Evan Bates at ISU World Figure Skating Championships
Photo: Joosep Martinson - International Skating Union/International Skating Union / Getty Images

Since Chock designs their ice dancing costumes, some wondered if she would make their wedding attire too. But this is one wedding planning task that she's leaving to the pros.

After traveling to New York City to try on dresses and get a feel for what she liked, she fell in love with her dream gown at Vera Wang's salon. "It complements the venue and my personal style," Chock says of her look. "And [Vera] has been so deeply involved in the figure skating community, so on all levels it's the perfect fit."

The Party

Although these two are used to performing under immense pressure, Bates admits that he's expecting to feel some nerves when the day arrives. "We have a job where we have to overcome nervousness when we perform, but [our wedding] is a completely different thing," he says.

One aspect they're confident they'll nail, though, is their first dance—just don't expect them to break out pre-planned moves. "I don't think we're going to do a choreographed dance," Chock laughs. "We're constantly working on choreography that we have enough to get us by on the dance floor. We're just going to enjoy the moment."

In addition to celebrating with their extended families (including Chock's parents, who also got married in Hawaii), they'll also be joined by an esteemed group of fellow Olympians. Included on the couple's guest list are fellow ice dance partners Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, along with figure skaters Adam Rippon and Jason Brown.

Now that their planning timeline is winding down, the couple credits their loved ones with supporting them through the unique challenge of planning a destination wedding while competing at the highest athletic level in their sport. "It's important to let people help you," Chock muses. "It makes the process so much more fun and rich."

Although they admit not much will change when they do get married, Chock predicts it will only continue to strengthen their partnership on—and off—the ice. "There's an unspoken bond that solidifies when you're married," she says. "You have someone you can rely on for the rest of your life, and I think that's really beautiful."

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