They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but often times an outsider looking in may not know the actual story being captured.
This wedding, like all weddings, was perfect, full of fun and sweet moments. When the bride’s grandfather jokingly cut into his granddaughter’s father-daughter dance, it created one of these truly, picture-perfect moments. But what the viewer doesn’t know is this bride’s papa had spent the last six months fighting for his life after being diagnosed with leukemia. The viewer doesn’t know that when the doctors told him his cancer had returned, he asked them to do whatever it took to help him live until April 13, 2019 to see his granddaughter marry the love of her life. The viewer doesn’t know that this bride’s grandfather ended up dancing the night away on her wedding day. The viewer doesn’t know that when this bride returned from her honeymoon just a week later, she found her papa in the hospital – waiting to say goodbye. The viewer doesn’t know that less than two weeks after her picture-perfect wedding and best day of her life, the bride experienced one of the worst.
The man in these photographs is my grandfather - Heyward Black. And this wedding, the very first ever held in my family’s new venue, was mine. Looking back on this day, I am in awe of this special moment and so grateful that it was captured on camera. We danced to “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin, and while not a traditional wedding song, it was the perfect celebration of my relationship with my father, grandfather and our Heavenly Father.
A few weeks after my grandfather passed away, my father and uncle, Don and Jake Black, decided to name our family’s wedding venue after the man we all loved so much – Heyward Manor. It was also perfect as the name Heyward means “keeper of the forest,” and years ago, my papa helped my father and uncle begin Charlie’s Creek Nursery, a wholesale tree farm where this venue now stands. For years, these three men have poured love, sweat and tears into the beautiful land that surrounds the Manor.
Located less than an hour from Greenville, S.C in the Carolina countryside, Heyward Manor is situated on a rolling, green hill and surrounded by a forest of trees. The “shabby chic” white structure is truly breathtaking, with three massive windows at the front; glass, French doors lining both sides; and a breathtaking display of windows at the back. When the sun goes down, delicate chandeliers light up the inner whitewashed walls and natural, cedar hammer beams. It’s a place where fairytales begin, and couples promise forever to one another.
In the literal sense, perfect weddings may not exist. Something is always bound to go wrong. My own wedding almost didn’t take place at Heyward Manor. Endless rain and dozens of inspections delayed the construction for months, but my parents and my aunt and uncle are the most determined people I know. They worked tirelessly to give me and my husband our own fairytale. This dreamy space is where I married the love of my life and the place where my last memories with my grandfather were made. Having him there that day and having these photos to cherish is the sweetest part of my wedding story and a vital part of Heyward Manor’s.
While an outsider looking at these photos may not know the importance of this wedding, our father-daughter dance or the story of how our venue came to be, I believe all can see the love felt and shared here. Heyward Manor is so much more than just a barn or a wedding venue. It’s our home. On this land, we have laughed, cried and most importantly, loved. Our greatest wish and prayer is that all who enter these walls feel the power of that love so they too can have their own fairytale beginning.
Ceremony: Hartwell First United Methodist Church
Reception: Heyward Manor
Rings: Phils Jewelers
Wedding planner: Cynthia Phillips
Florist: Patricia Kinley
Entertainment: Uptown Entertainment
Videographer: Jeff Bradt
Cake: Tasteful Elegance
Hair and make-up: Tammie Burton Hughes
Rentals: Tri County Rentals
Bride's dress: White Magnolia