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Couples Marry in Mass Wedding at Botanical Gardens

Forty couples said "I do" at a special Valentine's Day ceremony at the Florida Botanical Gardens.

For the sixth year, the Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court hosted a group wedding at the . This year, 47 couples signed up for the wedding, and 40 couples had checked in by the start of the 2 p.m. wedding.

Sixth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Thomas Minkoff officiated and called marriage "supreme sharing." The couples enjoyed musical serenades by the Charmonizers Barbershop Quartet. Deputy Clerk Linda Brian sang the "Wedding Song."

Couples picked the group wedding for various reasons.

Engaged for six years, Patricia Morgan and Charles Wetmore of Largo decided it was about time to get married, and they thought a group wedding looked like a lot of fun.

"With our kids grown and moved away from the area, it is perfect to share the day with other people," Morgan said. "Plus, he will never forget when our anniversary is, with all the romantic stuff all over the place in stores."

Work led Antia Bates of Clearwater to her wedding day at the Florida Botanical Gardens.

"I load the vending machines here. I saw the signs advertising the wedding, and we decided it was time to get married," Bates said.

Some couples loved the idea of the group wedding because someone else did all of the planning.

"The group wedding takes a lot of stress out of planning a wedding," said Lisa Allison of St. Petersburg.

The cost of the ceremony was waived, and the couples only had to pay for their marriage licenses.

"We both love the botanical gardens. We could not have afforded to rent the gardens out for a wedding," said Amy Osborne of Clearwater. "The group wedding is fun. It fits our personalities."

Osborne and husband, Don Mecomber, who serves in the U.S. Coast Guard, are waiting for orders on where they will go next. So the timing of the group wedding was great, they said.

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