Thanks to the Corbin Senior Activity Center, West Valley High School sweethearts delivered their vows in front of family and friends Saturday inside the Spokane nonprofit.
“I’m very, very happy,” Garrett said Saturday before the ceremony. “It’s a miracle we were able to get to this place.”
The 11,000-acre fire, which started on Aug. 18 and burned 384 structures, destroyed a home and property owned by married couple Jerry Woods and Debra Dykes, Otey’s grandmother.
Woods said he has lived in the house for 30 years, and the house where Otte’s sister married two years ago has been in his family for about 80 years.
The fire also consumed Oti’s wedding dress and all the decorations – including lights, plates, centerpieces and flowers – that were stored at the property.
Dykes said more than 100 wooden mushroom decorations she painted for the wedding were lost in the fire.
“It wasn’t just bad that the house burned down,” Dykes said. “I felt bad because I didn’t have anything for the wedding and these people (at the activity center) are so wonderful to step up and take charge.”
Amid the grief of seeing loved ones lose everything they had, Garrett, 23, and Ottey, 21, had to start from scratch.
They had to decide if they wanted to keep their wedding date of September 16, and if so, decide where the ceremony would be and how they would put it together.
Claudia Auerkerk, Corbin’s executive director, said she contacted Jane Taylor, the center’s former board president and Dykes’ daughter, and offered to host the couple’s wedding for free at Corbin, 827 W. Cleveland Ave.
Ouwerkerk said she told Taylor: “Please let Corbin rally around (Oty) and give her space because we want to be able to help.”
The Spokane Valley couple agreed, expressing their deep gratitude for the opportunity.
“Garrett and I were very ready, frankly, to give up and run, but we had a lot of people who jumped in to save the day for us,” Otte said. “It was amazing. We are still in shock about it.”
Owerkerk, a member of Spokane Wedding and Event Planners, said she appealed to the organization to provide flowers for the wedding. Erica Colbert of Your Day Decor said she decorated all day Friday and made bouquets.
Ouerkerk said she asked Daniel Maclay, also known as DJ Dan, two days before the wedding if he could offer his services, and he quickly agreed.
“She started explaining to me and I said, ‘Whoa, I’m here. There’s no way I can’t do this. This is giving back. I love young people,'” Maclay said.
The couple noted the amazing support they received from their family, friends, the community and Corbyn’s staff.
“Everyone has been so kind and helpful,” Otte said. “I never expected such overwhelming support.”
Jerome Jackson, Garrett’s father, said the wedding went perfectly.
“It’s just one of those things,” Jerome said. “You want the best for your son and you want their wedding to be magical and the best you can ever have.”
Ouerkerk said she and Corbin’s staff wanted to do something special for the couple and grandparents since they were devastated by the fire.
“We just want to make their dreams come true as much as we can,” Ouerkerk said of the couple.
Keeping the same date, Otte walked down the aisle into the ballroom and onto the stage where Garrett, who was wearing a black tuxedo, waited for her. The two held hands, looked into each other’s eyes, read their vows, and kissed.