America's oldest unrestored garden offers a backdrop like no other.
N.C. couple wins "Sharing the Romance"
A Raleigh, N.C., couple whose marriage proposal in April captured the hearts of golf fans at the Augusta National Golf Club, are the winners of "Sharing the Romance," a $50,000 wedding giveaway offered by Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and wedding vendors in Charleston.
"Sharing the Romance" winners Courtney Sweetser and Caleb Smith are having a good year. In addition to submitting the winning wedding contest video they were gifted with hard-to-get tickets to the venerable Masters golf tournament. The opportunity gave Caleb a splendid venue to propose to Courtney.
On Magnolia Lane, leading to the golf club, tournament patrons posed for pictures. When Courtney and Caleb approached, Caleb whispered to the photographer to take a few extras as he was about to ask the big question.
Courtney said, "As we were taking the picture Caleb knelt down and told me he had something he needed to ask me. He then proposed. I was so surprised and shocked I didn't know what to say. Everyone in line started cheering and clapping for us and as we walked away after taking our picture we had to walk back by everyone in line. We felt like the golfers in the tournament because everyone was high fiving us and congratulating us and clapping."
The couple will get hardy applause, kisses and hugs during their Feb. 7, 2015, wedding in Magnolia's Carriage House. Nineteen wedding vendors in Charleston will donate their services to make Courtney's and Caleb's wedding an event to remember. They will honeymoon in Charleston.
Magnolia launched the wedding giveaway contest in February. Couples were asked to submit short videos explaining how they met and why they'd want a wedding at Magnolia and honeymoon in Charleston. In June, judges chose four semifinalists. Videos were posted on Magnolia's website, allowing people around the country to vote for the couple with the most compelling story. Courtney and Caleb received the most votes. An independent company tabulated the votes.
Wedding planner Cindy Zingerella of Engaging Events will help Courtney and Caleb plan their wedding, provide the décor and reception flowers and bring their wedding dreams to life. The other wedding vendors and the services they'll provide are:
Fox24-TV and "Charleston Weddings" published by "Charleston Magazine," were the contest's media sponsors.
"Sharing the Romance" is the brainchild of Tom Johnson, Magnolia's executive director. During garden tours and public lectures, Johnson speaks passionately about Magnolia being the last large-scale romantic-style garden in the United States.
"Congratulations to Courtney and Caleb," Johnson said. "We are thrilled that we can offer this opportunity to them so they will have a memorable wedding experience in America's oldest public garden in Charleston, one of America's most picturesque cities."
Opened in 1870 as a public garden, Magnolia is one of America's first tourist attractions. Since then, international visitors have strolled winding footpaths through more than 100 acres of azaleas, camellias and other seasonal flora. Unlike a formal, well-manicured garden, Magnolia's romantic-style gardens are designed to be in harmony with nature.