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Couple walks down the grocery aisle

Published Oct. 13, 2005

The altar was sandwiched in between the Cookie Hut and the Delicatessen, and there were dozens of uninvited guests. The wedding aisle, covered in white butcher paper, ran past gallons of Mocha mix, cultured buttermilk, Ham Feast Sandwiches and 2-Alarm Chili kits.

All sorts of things can happen in the aisles of a Winn Dixie.

On Saturday, Linda Smith and Doug Chorvat got married.

Smith, a longtime employee who manages the Cheese Shop, and Chorvat, a Spring Hill Fire and Rescue firefighter, had planned to elope, disappear to the Keys and have a small, private ceremony with a justice of the peace.

"But we wanted to see it. It's been a long time coming," explained Smith's boss, Sue Patton, who was the bridesmaid.

"She always wanted a big wedding," said store manager Bruce LaRocca. "And I said: "We'll get you a big wedding.'


That was 24 hours earlier.

The store on Spring Hill Drive leapt into action.

Bakery employees created an enormous chocolate wedding cake; others arranged the rows of plastic potted plants, laid down the butcher paper under aisle 13 and made the punch.

"Performing a wedding in a Winn Dixie might be a little strange," the Rev. Ray Favichia told the guests, store employees and shoppers who bumped into the afternoon ceremony near the bakery counter.

"But 2,000 years ago, other marriages took place in market areas," he said.

"Location is not the most important thing."

Indeed, as the bridal march from Richard Wagner's Lohengrin poured through the store's loudspeaker, it was clear to anyone _ including dazzled shoppers _ what was going on.

Then Linda said "I do," and her colleagues in the Bakery Department burst into applause.

There were two rings as well _ a hollowed out carrot ("It surely is a one-carrot ring," Favichia noted"), and a real one with diamonds.

Customers were uniformly impressed.

"I was just checking out and they said, "Aren't you going to stay for the wedding?' and I said, "What?' said customer Kay Werbey of Spring Hill.

"That's something different, isn't it? Probably last better than ones done otherwise."

Longtime customer Rosalyn Berman visibly was moved.

"It was so beautiful," she sighed, adding that a marriage ceremony was as good in a supermarket as in a church.

"God is anywhere, you know."