Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Newlyweds give dad-daughter dance to bridesmaid with terminally ill father

bride swap father daughter dance 5.PNG

Busy planning their wedding, when Michaela and Nora Cook-Yotts found out their good friend’s dad was facing cancer for the fourth time, with a devastatingly bleak prognosis, they wanted to do something meaningful for the family during the celebration.

Realising that Peter Otto, a close family friend since daughter Jessica first met Michaela back in primary school, might never get the chance to dance with his daughters at their own weddings, the couple handed over the dance floor on their big day.

And the beautiful gesture, caught on camera by their wedding photographer, brought the room to tears.

brides gives father daughter dance

Jessica says she knew deep down that they wouldn't have the dance at her own wedding

Speaking to stylist.co.uk, Michaela says the idea actually came from her now-wife, Nora, who has also grown close to Peter.

“When she met Mr Otto she fell in love with him because that’s the kind of guy he is,” she explains. “When Nora met him she was working a crappy job and he helped her get a job she loves. So when she heard that he was diagnosed with cancer for a fourth time she felt like she needed to give something back.

“I loved the idea and when we approached Jessica with the idea she was excited to have the opportunity.”

brides gives father daughter dance

Michaela has known Peter since she met his daughter in second grade

They kept Peter in the dark about their plans and waited until after Nora and Michaela had had their own father-daughter dances.

And Michaela says that as Peter, Jessica and Megan took to the floor together, dancing to a cover of Every Breath You Take, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

brides gives father daughter dance jessica peter otto

Megan, Peter and Jessica on the dance floor

“The dance was incredibly overwhelming and emotional. We had a relatively small wedding so most of the people there knew Pete and were aware of his diagnosis,” she tells stylist.co.uk. “Everyone in the room was tearing up, even those people who didn't know him or the situation. It was such an amazing moment that we are so happy to have given them.”

Jessica Otto Peter Otto

Jessica and Peter take to the floor

Denyse Dias of Belle Rey Photography, who photographed the February wedding, said that although she knew of the plan beforehand, it was still an overwhelmingly beautiful moment to witness.


Read more: Woman diagnosed with cancer holds incredible solo wedding


Speaking to stylist.co.uk, she admits: “I thought I was prepared. I was not!

“After getting to know Jessica during the day and realising how sweet and wonderful she is, along with how sweet and wonderful Michaela and Nora are, I was overwhelmed when the dance happened.

“I did my best to get as many good shots as I could until I couldn't see through my tears anymore. Then I just clicked away. Everyone in the room was either crying or very emotional. It was an amazing experience.

“I’m glad the story is spreading because I think it will help Jessica raise a lot of money for the bike ride she’s doing to support cancer research.”

nora and michaela

Newlyweds Nora and Michaela were more than happy to hand over the spotlight

Peter was first diagnosed in 2001 with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; since then, he’s battled central nervous system lymphoma and a brain tumour, before suffering a relapse in April 2016.

Jessica and her dad have fundraised for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – the treatment and research centre in Massachusetts where Peter is being treated – over the years, twice by riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) bike-a-thon going through 46 towns in two days.

While Peter is too ill to participate this year, Jessica is determined to ride in his name on 5 Aug, and Michaela and Nora hope the interest in their touching story will help her raise money.

brides gives father daughter dance

The moment brought everyone to tears

Michaela tells us: “As far as the attention this story is getting, I think it’s incredible but it’s also a little strange because we didn't do it for attention. We did it because it was the right thing to do.

“What I want to come out of this story is not what a great gift this was, but people to know about Jessica’s PMC ride and to donate. A dance is just a moment in time. Giving money to cancer research can make a real difference in someone’s life.

“Every day Nora and I wish we could take Pete’s cancer away. The next best thing is donating to the PMC to possibly change the course of history for someone else.”

Jessica, who says that her dad only has a month or two to live, told ABC News that she was blown away by the gesture.

“Deep down, I knew it [a father-daughter dance] wasn’t in the cards for us,” she said. “It was everything to me, I don’t think they will ever fully know [what] it meant to me.”

brides gives father daughter dance friend

The pair took to the dance floor after the brides had their father-daughter dances

To donate to Jessica’s bike ride, visit profile.pmc.org/jo0135.

Images courtesy of Belle Rey Photography

Related

flower man girl wedding erin moore photography.jpg

Man carries out flower girl duties with immense pride and solemnity

little girl princess bride.jpg

Little girl crashes stranger’s wedding for a seriously cute reason

abi flynn 2.jpg

Woman sings powerfully through chemo treatment to inspire others

More

The best A-list Instagrams from the weekend

Cara Delevingne’s fangirl moment and 90s supermodels reuniting

by Nicola Colyer
25 Sep 2017

Piers Morgan's comments about Meghan Markle have riled up the internet

A heavy dose of sexism with your morning telly

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Sep 2017

Julia Stiles talks women in Hollywood and her controversial baby name

Stylist.co.uk chats with the Riviera star

by Harriet Hall
25 Sep 2017

Chrissy Teigen’s reason for never divorcing John Legend is too good

Just when we thought we couldn’t love her more

by Susan Devaney
25 Sep 2017

NASA just paid tribute to Hidden Figures' Katherine Johnson

This is long overdue

by Susan Devaney
25 Sep 2017

Ellen DeGeneres has officially banned Donald Trump from her TV show

Her powerful statement sums up everything that’s wrong with the president

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Sep 2017

Jessica Ennis-Hill unveils baby girl’s incredibly trendy name

The gold medallist announced the news via an intimate Instagram photo

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Sep 2017

All the best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From a star-studded dinner party to Serena Williams’ sweet mother-daughter snap

by Nicola Colyer
22 Sep 2017

Justin Trudeau reveals his surprising feminist inspiration

Bromance brewing?

by Susan Devaney
21 Sep 2017

Some people only just realised that Rihanna’s real name isn’t Rihanna

Erm, did we not all know this already?

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Sep 2017