Two brides decided to do the traditional dances a little differently at their wedding. Instead of making themselves the center of attention, they invited another union onto the dance floor to have their moment in the spotlight. And pretty soon there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Michaela and Nora Cook-Yotts are a couple living in Rumford, Rhode Island. Michaela works as an instructional aide at a nearby high school, while Nora is a courier for delivery company FedEx. The two women have been happily married since February 2017.
Their wedding gained a lot of media attention, though not because they were two women tying the knot. It was for a totally different reason altogether. In fact, Michaela and Nora’s big day may well have been the most emotional wedding of the year so far.
Once the ceremony was over, it was time for the reception party, and of course, the all-important dances. But this newlywed couple wanted to mix things up a bit. After taking to the floor with their respective fathers, then, they got the DJ to make a surprise announcement.
There was someone special at the wedding party that the newly married couple wanted to address. The person they wanted to celebrate wasn’t even a family member, just a very close friend. And what Michaela and Nora did next reduced the wedding guests to tears.
In the middle of their own dances, the couple invited a man called Pete Otto to join them on the dance floor. Otto was an old family friend, and the father of Michaela’s best pal and bridesmaid, Jessica Otto. And there was a very special reason why they wanted him to enjoy a dance.
That’s because he had a terminal disease. The Otto family weren’t sure how long he had left, but they feared he might not make it to see his two daughters get married. Michaela and Nora therefore insisted he take the floor. They wanted him to have a “first dance” with his daughters while he was still able to.
So, Pete Otto embraced both his daughters, Jessica and Megan, and shared one of the most emotional dances the internet has seen. The three of them swayed to Aaron Krause’s “Every Breath You Take” while they and the rest of the room broke down in tears.
It may not have been their wedding day, but it didn’t matter. The two women relished their special moment with their sick father. Jessica Otto described it as “something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life,” according to a Today.com article from July 2017.
The Otto sisters were overwhelmed that they were given the chance to dance with their dad. Jessica Otto described what the two brides did as “the most beautiful gift.” She said, “This was their big day, and the fact that they let me and my family have our moment was so selfless.”
But to the newlyweds it was a no-brainer. “Everybody loves Pete,” Nora Cook-Yotts told Today.com. The dance had been Nora’s idea, and when Michaela first heard it she knew that they had to do it. “It didn’t matter that it took away our spotlight,” she said.
Michaela and Nora even went as far as telling ABC News that the Otto family dance was “the best part of the wedding.” In an article published in July 2017, Michaela said, “The emotion in the entire room was so overwhelming. It was so moving. Everybody was crying, and there wasn’t enough tissues.”
Pete Otto himself didn’t say much about the dance, but his daughters knew how much it meant to him. “My dad is a man of very few words, he doesn’t express how he feels, he doesn’t say it but he shows it. He hugged us close to him,” Jessica Otto told ABC News.
The whole Otto family were fully aware that Pete may never make it to his daughters’ weddings, making it a very poignant day for them all. Pete had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma years ago and had entered remission on three previous occasions.
But when he got sick for a fourth time, in April 2016, things were different. His health deteriorated, and then, just one month before the Cook-Yotts’ wedding, the Ottos were told that there was nothing more that doctors could do.
That devastating news was the reason why the dance was particularly important to the Ottos. After the wedding, Pete’s condition got worse, and in July 2017 Jessica Otto told ABC that her dad wasn’t doing very well. Then, tragically, on July 31, 2017, her dad gave up his battle and passed away.
Jessica and Megan Otto are now trying to get to grips with the grief of losing their “best friend.” According to Jessica, he was a man who would have given you “the shirt off his back.” But his daughters have some incredible memories of their father, not only from the Cook-Yotts’ wedding.
After her dad’s death, Jessica posted a message on Facebook encouraging people to share their favorite stories of him. It was her response to the commonly heard expression, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” She wanted to gather enough funny stories to fill a whole notebook.
As heartbreaking as the Otto family story is, Jessica and Megan were relieved about one thing: both were able to have their daddy-daughter dance at Michaela and Nora’s wedding. “It was easily the most important thing they could have done for us at the time,” Jessica told Today.com.
It’s difficult to imagine a more emotional set of photographs than the ones from the Cook-Yotts’ wedding day. Looking at them gives you a strong reminder to cherish what you have. The lesson is to spend time with the people that matter the most, before it’s too late.