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#60 and Counting: An Anniversary Tradition at West Baden Springs Hotel

February 28, 2023
Erv and Lou Ellen Watts

After 60 years of marriage and more than a half-century of traveling the country together, you learn a thing or two. Like which destinations are worth a return visit to commemorate those extra-special milestones.

Erv and Lou Ellen Watts reached the decision pretty easily. No plane tickets necessary. No lengthy drive or cross-country itinerary needed. To celebrate their 60th anniversary, the best spot they could imagine was just a few hours down the road.

“We’ve traveled and spent time in every single state in the union – except for Hawaii, Alaska and North Dakota – and we try to stay in historic places,” Lou Ellen explains on this quiet February afternoon at West Baden Springs Hotel. It’s perfect, because on this relatively low-traffic Friday, it almost feels like Erv and Lou Ellen have the hotel all to themselves.

Erv and Lou Ellen Anniversary
Photos courtesy of Jan Tellstrom


“To us, this is so special It’s not just because it’s here in the state, but it’s historic, and we like historic (destinations),” Lou Ellen continues. “There’s just something real special about this place. It’s like a warm glove.”

That’s one of the most spot-on descriptions of West Baden Springs Hotel we’ve ever heard.

Lou Ellen could also win the award for best entrance.

They look like newlyweds walking through the lobby into the hotel atrium – Erv in a suit and bowtie, and Lou Ellen in the same dress she wore in 1963 on their wedding day. Other guests stop, smile and awwww. One couple eating dinner in the atrium — celebrating a milestone of their own on their 40th anniversary — asks Erv and Lou Ellen if she can take their picture.

Without a doubt, Lou Ellen’s the star of the show tonight. It’s almost a tradition by now.

The couple visited West Baden Springs Hotel for their 50th anniversary back in 2013. Lou Ellen wore her wedding dress then, too. This year, anniversary planning was more last-minute since they were busy moving into a new place. But Lou Ellen connected again with our senior concierge, Marsha, who got them set up in a balcony room overlooking the atrium. Erv and Lou Ellen’s wedding cake from 60 years ago had swans on it, so our pastry chefs put a fun spin on a beautiful anniversary cake.

The Swan Wedding Cake
The swan wedding cake: from the original version to the modern spin.
Lou Ellen at her wedding


“There are the swans!” Lou Ellen exclaims when she sees the pink frosted cake with swans made from cream puffs on top.

“I want this one, Erv … no, I changed my mind,” once she finds a better cream puff. “That one’s fuller. I want that one.”

With the big cream puff decision out of the way, here’s another question to answer.

What’s the secret to making it to 60 years of marriage?

Erv’s take: “If it isn’t big enough to fight over … don’t fight.”

Lou Ellen weighs in: “We’re committed. And we compromise. What do you think, Erv? I compromise more than you, don’t I?” she kids him.



Erv and Lou Ellen Watts cutting their cake

They’ve been coming to West Baden for more than 20 years, Erv and Lou. The first visit was just for a tour of the building before the hotel was renovated. Then there was an outing with their granddaughter. Then anniversary #50 … and now #60 … so what’s next?

“I told him, maybe what we’ll do, instead of coming every 10 years we’ll just come every year on our anniversary,” Lou Ellen says. “And see how long the dress lasts.”

Cheers to that plan, and many more happy years together.

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