Sparks fly in local wedding competition

Magnolia Garden’s white bridge is a Charleston icon, part of the first public garden in America. Wedding couples love to have their photo taken on the bridge.

What could be better than getting married in Charleston?

Even better if it is a $50,000 wedding at Magnolia Gardens where the bride and groom are pampered like royalty.

Four couples are semi-finalists in the “Sharing the Romance” competition and the public gets to vote for their favorite by watching their videos at magnoliaplantation.com.

The contest is sort of like “American Idol” but with the fuss of a mega-wedding and a honeymoon in Charleston.

Whether you want historic charm or beach fun, there isn’t a better place to get married.

The couples have different videos and there could be a sympathy vote for each one.

Katie Durham of Miramar, Fla., and Bobby Hill of Boaz, Ala. are both stationed in Afghanistan. Their romance spans their military career, and to see them talking about love with machine guns on their shoulders reminds us that they are serving our country.

Jessica Renee Reeks and Bradford Lee Cashman, both of Johns Island, are caring for an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s.

He’s a pottery artist and works at Crisis Ministries while she’s a massage therapist. They take you on a tour of their favorite places in Charleston.

Tracy Ann Giblin and Steven James Fox, both of Buffalo, N.Y., created a funny video with bubbles for love, and tell you how caring they have been as a couple and how beautiful they think our city is after visiting here.

Kristen Rebecca Turner and Adam John Tan, both of Charleston, talk about romance – and Tan’s surprise engagement trip to Paris. He booked the flights, telling her they were going to New York, and then told her at the airport where they were going, but not why.

So after watching the videos, I couldn’t tell you who I would vote for – they are all cute and in love.

But for the three couples that don’t win the wedding, here are some suggestions about other beautiful places in the area to get married, with equal parts Southern charm and fun.

The gazebo at White Point Garden is a favorite for its white bandstand and magnificent view of the harbor. The wedding pictures are incredible. Just remember to get your city permit for the wedding.

Standing on The Battery also is picturesque. You can always say that you married where the Cooper and Ashley rivers meet to form the Atlantic Ocean (that’s a favorite joke around here.)

A beach wedding is always nice, too. It can be simple by walking onto the beach — the Isle of Palms has the easiest parking, or made more elaborate by renting a beach house for the happy couple and guests.

Charles Towne Landing, where the first settlers to our area lived, provides a magnificent canopy of old oaks and is the perfect place for an outdoor picnic or reception. There are plenty of places for kids to play, so it makes it fun for inviting the younger ones in the family.

For an indoor venue that makes wonderful pictures, try the S.C. Aquarium. The big tank provides the flashing color of fish and turtles, and guests can wander through the exhibits.

And if you have a firefighter or truck lover in the family, the North Charleston Fire Museum has gleaming trucks and plenty of room for anything from a buffet to a seated meal with room left for dancing.

Now all you need to do is add a “Make Your Own Grits” food station and serve Firefly Vodka Sweet Tea and you have the makings of real Lowcountry memories.

Reach Stephanie Harvin or 937-5557.