Most engaged couples go ring shopping together. Kaylyn Conrad and John Eaton also went shoe shopping.
The 23-year-olds from Shady Hills bought matching red Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars for their wedding on Friday. The canvas sneakers, along with Conrad's sunflower bouquet, made the pair stand out among the 19 couples who showed up for the Valentine's Day wedding ceremony open to all comers.
The Eatons said they were considering setting a Feb. 21 date, the first anniversary of their first date. But when they learned about the special ceremony sponsored by the Pasco County Clerk of Court, they didn't want to wait.
"We just decided to get married," the new Mrs. Eaton said.
Held around the picturesque historic courthouse downtown, the ceremony was presided over by clerk Paula O'Neil, who smiled from ear to ear. This marks the sixth year for the ceremony, which this year featured a recording of Paul Stookey's The Wedding Song (There is Love). The couples received gifts from local businesses that included a small cake, a strand of faux pearls and legal services to draw up wills.
The grooms ringed the two courtyard flagpoles as their brides paraded up to a recorded harp version of the Here Comes the Bride.
"Wow, you look beautiful," O'Neil told the group. She stressed during the 10-minute ceremony that though marriage unites a couple, it should not extinguish their individuality.
They came in all ages and stripes. One groom used a walker. Another bride was escorted by a small boy. A couple of brides wore traditional white or ivory gowns, while some opted for Valentine's Day red dresses. One groom came in a black tuxedo.
John Eaton wore a red bow tie to match his shoes. His bride had on a backless white dress that had a pearlized waist added by Eaton's grandmother.
They met as youngsters at Hudson Middle School and reconnected last year when Eaton, who works for Coastal Aluminum, moved back to the area.
"We just hit it off," said Kaylyn, who attends cosmetology school.
They exchanged rings and vows and looked forward to their honeymoon in St. Augustine.
O'Neil pronounced the newlyweds, all 38 of them, husbands and wives and announced each pair's name.
"You are now married couples," she said. "Isn't that awesome!"