Couples who wanted to share their love in a more permanent way than flowers and chocolates gathered at the historic Manatee County Courthouse Tuesday for intimate courthouse weddings.
The Clerk of Court’s Office inside the historic courthouse was buzzing with activity between the series of weddings and typical day-to-day business.
As of 3:30 p.m., Clerk of Court’s Office officials said seven weddings had been performed Tuesday, but they’re expecting more before the courthouse doors close.
Three couples, all married within about an hour of each other Tuesday afternoon, shared their love stories and why they chose Valentine’s Day as their wedding day. While the couples may not have had much, if anything, in common before, they now all share an anniversary.
In courthouse weddings, there are few frills. Inside, a small room holds a wooden bench for observers, a podium and a decorated archway for the couple to stand under for the ceremony. The cost of a ceremony itself at the Clerk of Court’s Office is just $30, not including fees for marriage licenses, according to the clerk’s website.
But Tuesday, none of the three couples mentioned finances as a reason for the courthouse weddings, just their love for one another.
Alex and Dasha Filipovich decided to have an intimate ceremony inside the courthouse.
This ceremony, Alex said, wasn’t meant to happen on Valentine’s Day. The couple aimed to be married earlier, but he was called away to work. But Tuesday, he had a day off, and they came into the courthouse. They were joined in the small chapel by friends.
Alex said his aunt knew Dasha’s stepmother and they “connected the dots.” Alex met Dasha when he visited his “homeland” of Belarus, an Eastern European country bordering Poland, where Dasha lived. They started dating in August 2015.
The couple kept up a long-distance relationship leading up to Tuesday’s wedding. Dasha and Alex both traveled between the U.S. and Belarus to see each other before they were married.
Patricia and Bruce Talboys have spent their time traveling together. The couple has traveled across the country and to seven countries on their Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Bruce said.
Their ceremony was also held inside the courthouse, but they joined family and loved ones outside under the gazebo for photos before piling into a waiting limousine.
The couple met in Bradenton through one of Bruce’s family members. They’ve been together more than 20 years and decided Valentine’s Day 2017 would be the day they tied the knot.
“Because it’s the day of love and we love each other,” Patricia Talboys said. “We’re very happy and we love Valentine’s Day. More than before now.”
Shortly after the Talboys left, Ronald and Angela Smith walked out to meet their wedding’s officiant under the gazebo. The Bradenton couple opted to have their wedding ceremony outside and wore Valentine’s red shirts for their special day.
“It’s easy to remember,” Angela said, laughing about choosing Valentine’s Day for their wedding.
“It means a lot on Valentine’s Day. It’s more ... ” Ronald started, “Personal,” Angela chimed in.
The couple met in Tennessee through Facebook, after having been “friends” on the social media site for some time before dating. Angela said they just “clicked.”
Angela and Ronald lived in Tennessee where they would take trips to the Smoky Mountains before moving to Bradenton in 2010.
The couple exchanged rings, then walked away as newlyweds.