America's oldest unrestored garden offers a backdrop like no other.
“Sharing the Romance" Winners
Army couple serving in Afghanistan
wins "Sharing the Romance"
Katie Durham and Bobby Hill, whose plans to marry next year were delayed by their deployment to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army, are the winners of "Sharing the Romance," a $50,000 wedding package offered by Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and wedding vendors in Charleston.
Durham, a resident of Miramar, Fla., is a military intelligence officer. Hill, a resident of Boaz, Ala., is an infantry officer. They serve in the same Army unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan, with Operation Enduring Freedom.
Katie and Bobby were deployed earlier this year a month after he proposed at sunrise on a dock in Key West, Fla., while they were on vacation with her parents.
Winning the contest helps Katie, 24, and Bobby, 27, plan a wedding while they are in Afghanistan. A group of first-class Charleston wedding vendors will cater to the couple's needs during a ceremony and reception on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, in the Carriage House at Magnolia. They will honeymoon in Charleston.
Katie and Bobby are on active duty in Afghanistan. They were not immediately available for comment.
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, seven 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. Katie and Bobby received the most votes. An independent company tabulated the votes.
Comcast C2, the local Comcast channel in Charleston, 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 who speaks passionately about Magnolia being the last large-scale romantic-style garden in the United States.
"Congratulations to Katie and Bobby," Johnson said. "We look forward to sharing Magnolia with Katie and Bobby so they too can enjoy not only Magnolia, America's oldest public garden, but also 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 gardens are designed to be in harmony with nature.