Paxon Revival hosts Valentine's Day mass wedding

More than 50 couples wed on 'Heart Day'


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Lots of people took their sweetie out for a nice dinner or date for Valentine's Day, but more than 50 couples took a trip to the alter.

Paxon Revival Church on the Westside offered a free mass wedding for couples in the area.

Through donations, the church was able to offer free wedding dresses and suits pre-marital classes and unforgettable memories.

"We tried to get married but didn't have money, now we're doing it, 5 years later," said Marina Powers.

Marina Powers and Nathaniel Raffety said when they heard about the free wedding Paxon Revival was hosting, they didn't think twice.

"I'm nervous, it's my first real wedding," said Marina.

Paxon helped Marina through the wedding proces, even offering her a free gown for the big day. But it's bittersweet, because it's something that she won't be able to experience with the person who matters most - her mom.

"I'm missing my mom, but I got all this church family here," said Marina.

Marina said her fiancé and people she has met through the church have helped her get through it.

While some will be exchanging ‘I do's' for the first time, others are walking down the aisle for a second time.

"It's real special, it's been 6 years – a long time and we just think it's about time… a fresh start basically," said Shynees Thomas.

It will be deja-vu for Shynees and Tyrone Johnson, who got married at Paxon Revival during a mass wedding.

"My fondest memory was when she was coming down the aisle to me and I felt so good, but I felt so nervous," said Tyrone.

Six years later, the nerves are still there.

"Wedding jitters, yes. I got it right now -– bad. Hands sweating and all," said Tyrone.

Year after year, Pastor Steve Dobbs said he tries to make this mass wedding as memorable as possible. Every couple saying their vows individually.

"I want the community to know and everybody else to know I heard the man say ‘I do' and I want the girl – her mom to hear ‘I do' and know he's going to take care of her," said Pastor Steve Dobbs.

Couples who were renewing their vows were also able to be a part of the free wedding if they contacted Paxon Revival Church by noon Friday.