A wedding has turned into a funeral, and a Bluffton family is scrambling to make it a celebration.
Saturday was supposed to the most joyous day for Stacey Evette Bond.
But she died last Friday, and a wedding feast planned for 300 will now be a celebration of a life cut tragically short at 41.
Stacey will be dressed in her mermaid-style wedding dress and veil.
The seven bridesmaids, maid of honor and flower girls will wear the peach-colored dresses Stacey picked out so carefully.
Her fiance, Guy A. Weaver, will be in his white tuxedo, just like the little ring-bearer.
“Stacey wanted this so much,” Weaver said. “She has worked so hard the past year for this wedding. You just don’t know.”
The wedding was to be in a Georgian-style mansion in downtown Augusta, Ga. The theme was going to be “peaches and cream.” Weaver, who grew up in nearby Hephzibah, was the Georgia peach, and the upbeat Stacey was the cream.
Her mother, Elizabeth Lovell of Bluffton, said, “It will be a wedding celebration, because I know what she wanted to do. I’ve got to get through it. She is my daughter. I’ve got to do it.”
The Rev. Joe Jordan is still hunting for words to say when the funeral takes place at 2 p.m. in the historic Campbell Chapel A.M.E. Church in Bluffton.
“This is a test for everyone,” he said Thursday. “It certainly is a test for my faith. I’m in prayer on what to say.”
Stacey had gone to Augusta early last Friday to accompany a friend picking up her daughter.
On the way home, near Hampton, she had what was described as a panic attack. An ambulance was called. Weaver said she died of a heart attack. Hampton County Coroner Ernie Washington Sr. said he will determine a cause of death after getting toxicology test results.
Weaver got the word from a doctor while working in Indiana.
“I thought about the wedding, I thought about the kids, our future together and our plans and how they have changed.
“This is a drastic, drastic, drastic change in a lot of people’s lives right now.”
He chose to drive his truck home to Westbury Park in Bluffton so he could think for 12 hours.
“I’ve got to talk to God,” he told himself. “I’ve got to be strong when I get there for these four kids.”
Stacey had four children, ages 24 to 12, and a grandchild. He has five children, ages 25 to 6.
It took him several days to get the courage to tell his children, who were in Augusta.
“When my 13-year-old daughter called me and asked what day Stacey was coming to get their nails and toes painted for their girls’ day out, I thought I could’ve died right there,” he said. “I made my way to Augusta, got them all together and sat down and told them.”
Weaver and Stacey were together from the moment they met on Oct. 19, 2010.
He was in town doing IT work for the Beaufort County School District. She had recently moved her family from Boston to the land of her mother’s roots in the Green and Scott families along Buck Island Road. She worked at the Main Street Inn and, subsequently, the Sunspire Health rehabilitation center that took over that building.
“The last six years of my life with Stacey, she has been one of the happiest people in the world,” he said. “And this wedding, it was just a happy, happy, happy time for her.”
That’s why he wants to honor her at the funeral by making it live up to her plans for the day.
“As much as we can bring to it what she worked so hard on, without upsetting anybody or having anybody feel uncomfortable,” he said.
His sister will still sing “The Lord’s Prayer,” but it will be recorded because doing it live would be too hard.
He was to go see Stacey for the first time on Friday at the Allen Funeral Home in Coosawhatchie. He planned an hour with her at noon. He said he may talk to her about the rings.
Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at First Zion Missionary Baptist Church on Wharf Street in Bluffton.
Elizabeth Lovell, Stacey’s mom, doesn’t want anyone coming to the funeral in black funeral clothes. She’s going to deck out the yard for a gathering of family and friends after the repast so it will reflect Stacey’s design for the wedding reception.
The linen and tablecloths are to be peaches and cream. The centerpieces that Stacey worked on personally will be there.
“It’s going to be decked out in Stacey,” she said. “This is what she wanted and, by dog it, that’s what I’m going to do, to the best of my ability.”
Weaver had a special surprise up his sleeve for the wedding reception. Stacey was a dancer, and he is decidedly not. But he had been secretly taking dance lessons in Indiana. “That would have been the highlight of the whole wedding,” he said.
Both fiance and mother say faith in God trumps despair.
“Some of His thoughts are not my thoughts,” Weaver said, “and some of His ways are not my ways. But I’ve got to trust and believe in Him in every way. When you have faith, it strengthens you.”
Her mother said, “I’m burying my daughter in her wedding dress, OK?
“But this is not sadness. God makes no mistakes. He brought Stacey here to do a job. She did her job. She was who she was. Her four kids are going to be A-OK.”