Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Pinellas

Dozens expected to exchange vows at mass wedding in Largo.

The Florida Botanical Gardens will host about 60 couples tying the knot on Valentine’s Day.
Cupid is anxiously awaiting the wedding guests for the annual Valentine’s Day Group Wedding inside the Florida Botanical Gardens. [PIPER CASTILLO  |  Times]
Cupid is anxiously awaiting the wedding guests for the annual Valentine’s Day Group Wedding inside the Florida Botanical Gardens. [PIPER CASTILLO | Times]
Published Feb. 13
Updated Feb. 13

LARGO — One of the perks of living in the Sunshine State is enjoying a winter garden full of color. And on Cupid’s favorite day, about 60 couples will come to one of the region’s largest gardens to say "I do.''

At the Florida Botanical Gardens, among the bougainvillea, the rows of zinnias and pentas, the assortment of palms, oaks and pines, and even ironically-named vines (purple passion flower and bleeding heart), the Pinellas County Clerk of the Court'’s office is holding the Valentine’s Day Group Wedding with Clerk Ken Burke officiating. This is the 11th year the event is being held at the 100-acre property off Walsingham Road.

“We had gotten the idea from Palm Beach County and first started holding the event at the courthouse 14 years ago, but we outgrew that setting,'' Burke said. "I remember the first one clearly at the Botanical Gardens. It was a perfect day. The couples were just radiant, and it had a special, exciting feel.’’

A Queen Elizabeth rose is blooming in the Rose Garden at the Florida Botanical Gardens, just in time for he Valentine’s Day Group Wedding. [PIPER CASTILLO | Times]

Over the years, the event has changed with the times. In 2015, about six weeks after it became legal for same-sex couples to marry in Florida, about two dozen couples exercised their new right and exchanged vows during the event. And a few years ago, Burke and his team decided to include renewals of vows. This year, about 12 couples will participate in the renewal ceremony. "A lot of renewals are folks who were part of the group ceremony,'' Burke said.

The program also includes the Charmonizers Barbershop Quartet and cake for the newlyweds.

While the Pinellas County Clerk of Court office manages the Valentine’s Day event, horticulture volunteers, many holding master gardener certificates, maintain the gardens year-round, while efforts of the non-profit Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation ensure there is always plenty of blooms and artwork dotting the landscape.

A hanging heart topiary dedicated by members of the Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation. [PIPER CASTILLO | Times]

Vernon Bryant is the director of the foundation, and he was also part of the team that established the botanical gardens 20 years ago.

"The Valentine’s Day Wedding is always fun to see. It’s a perfect place for a wedding, and one benefit for us is how there will be people visiting here for the first time,'' Bryant said. “Personally, one of my favorite memories is when one of my good friends participated. To have him get married here, at my place, was very special.’’

But with so many people getting married simultaneously, will a couple feel like it is ‘their’ day?

The answer is definitely a yes, according to Nancy Dickman, the clerk’s manager of recording services.

“From observing it over the years, I see how the couples are so excited and how they naturally make it personal for each other,’’ Dickman said. “You see the love in their eyes and Ken may be speaking to 50 couples but they are hearing it only for each other.’’

The wedding, which is open to the public, is set to begin at 2:00 p.m. at the Wedding Garden of the Florida Botanical Gardens, 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo, FL 33774.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  1. The candidates running for Clearwater City Council Seat 3 are (left to right) Kathleen Beckman, Robert "Dr. Bob" Cundiff, Bud Elias and Scott Thomas.
  2. Lynn Cristina is a Wesley Chapel momma with two girls and works full time as a marketing manager.
  3. Patrick Suiters, 10, left, and Gabriel Stanford, 9, both fourth-graders at San Jose Elementary School in Dunedin, fill out a survey after tasting falafel tots and nuggets during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste test at Pinellas Technical College. About 120 students tasted and rated 28 new food items that could be added to school breakfast and lunch menus next year.
  4. People fill Community Cafe as drag queen Viktoria Sommers reads a Dr. Seuss book to children during Drag Queen Story Hour.  [Times (2019)]
  5. The Pinellas County school system is offering driver education camps to hundreds of students like this one over the summer. The program will be held over two sessions at nine high school campuses across the county.
  6. The Sunken Gardens Forever Foundation has published a children's book, "Sophie & Zack at Sunken Gardens." The project includes giving a copy of the book to third graders in Title I schools in St. Petersburg and inviting them to visit the gardens on a docent-led trip.
  7. Roy Lampkin, left, David Dobbins and Christopher Rachell are charged in connection with a caper that resulted in a CVS in Clearwater being held up by robbers.
  8. Brian Davison is chief executive officer of Equialt, which bought this Safety Harbor home in a tax deed sale. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission contends in a new lawsuit that EquiAlt is a Ponzi scheme, and Davison has diverted investor funds for his own lavish personal spending. Times (2015)
  9. Jarvis Delon West was arrested on child neglect charges after he didn't report an employee at AMI Kids who slammed a boy to the ground, according to police.
  10. Madico spent $40 million developing its new corporate headquarters and factory on Belcher Road in Pinellas Park. [Amy Pezzicara | Pezz Photo]
  11. Localtopia is St. Pete's largest “Community Celebration of All Things Local,” showcasing over 200 independent businesses and community organizations.
  12. Police say Terrence Hoover, right, broke into a $4 million Vinoy Place condo on Jan. 17. The penthouse is owned by Scott Swift, left, the father of supererstar Taylor Swift.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement