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Leave a Good Impression
Illustrations By: 
Charla Pettingill
Commemorate your wedding with a landmark gift to the city that’s hosting your “I dos”

Now that you are headed down the aisle, it’s time for a more permanent proclamation of your state of union than initials carved into a tree. Whether you call Charleston home or have traveled from “off” to trade vows here, memorial gifts in honor of your marriage are a romantic way to share your love with the romantic city that formed the backdrop for your Big Day. And when you donate, say, a sweet park bench sporting your very own plaque, you score the perfect place to commemorate your anniversary year after year. Here’s a brief roundup of great ways to make your mark.
 

Pen Your Name on a Plantation
Middleton Place (4300 Ashley River Rd., 843/556-6020, www.MiddletonPlace.org), with its 65 acres of stunning 18th-century gardens, lakes, and sweeping views of the Ashley River, is one of the country’s most esteemed wedding destinations (and honeymoon spots, thanks to its sister inn). In exchange for a contribution to Middleton Place Foundation’s bench preservation fund, couples earn a plaque hung on the bench of their choice (rates vary from $2,000-$5,000 and are based on bench location). Also up for sponsorship: trees, ranging from $1,000 for dogwoods to $3,000 for live oaks. Maps showcasing plant dedications are offered at the plantation’s visitor center.

Pitch in for a Good Cause
Children and adults with mental and physical challenges score their very own community baseball program thanks to The Charleston Miracle League (780 West Oak Forest Dr., 843/763-2513, www.CharlestonMiracleLeague.org). Sporty couples can help the cause when they donate $200-$1,500 for various sized signs that will hang for one to two years throughout West Ashley’s Joe Griffith Miracle Field. Customize your banner with words—think “We knocked it out of the park November 15, 2014, now it’s your turn!”—and a wedding photo of your choice.

 

Make an Artistic Statement
The city can barely wait for spring 2015 when the Charleston Gaillard Center (corner of Calhoun and Anson Sts., 843/724-5212, www.GaillardCenter.com) will open in the heart of downtown with its 1,800-seat performance hall, 13,000-square-foot ballroom, and exquisite Charleston garden, perfect for portraits, weddings, and more. Details are still coming together, but sponsored outdoor benches are part of the plan; contact the center for specifics.

Lay the Groundwork
North Charleston Riverfront Park and its Greater Charleston Naval Base Memorial (1001 Everglades Ave., North Charleston, 843/740-2531, www.NorthCharleston.org) detail the area’s military past and honor those who served there for nearly a century before the base closed in 1996. And the areas make for great weddings, too. Patriotic newlyweds who contribute $100-$400 toward the memorial get tribute pavers (sizes vary) engraved with their names or a cherished saying.

Care for a Critter
Founded in 1874, Charleston Animal Society (2455 Remount Rd., North Charleston, 843/747-4849, www.CharlestonAnimalSociety.org) is the state’s largest animal rescue shelter. Located in a top-of-the-line facility in North Charleston, the society’s headquarters continue to expand, offering animal-loving couples myriad chances to leave their mark. Options include engraved bricks ($75-$250) for campus walkways; personalized birdbaths and benches ($750 and $1,500, respectively) for play areas; or kennels inside the shelter ($250-$500), complete with a benefactor placard.
 

BE A GUARDIAN ANGEL
Donations in honor of your wedding to these charitable groups earn a letter of gratitude and recognition, which can be added to your marriage album.


American Red Cross: Carolina Lowcountry Chapter

(843/764-2323, www.RedCross.org) assists with everything from disaster relief to blood drive services.

Darkness to Light

(843/965-5444, www.d2l.org) provides education and outreach to prevent childhood sexual abuse.

HALOS

(843/953-3714, www.CharlestonHalos.org) stands for Helping and Lending Outreach Support, and translates into assistance for abused and neglected children.

Palmetto Conservation’s Palmetto Share Trail

(www.PalmettoConservation.org/trailshares.asp) maintains the state’s longest pedestrian and bike path and for $25, donors receive a stock of ownership and the GPS coordinates for their sponsored 1/1000-mile stretch.

Water Missions International

(843/769-7395, www.WaterMissions.org) brings water filtration systems to in-need communities around the globe.

WINGS

(www.WingsForKids.org) empowers children with afterschool programs that boost emotional and social skills.