Calgary drop-in centre grants couple’s Christmas wish to get married

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News
The Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre, which serves many of Calgary's down and out, could face up to $600,000 in budget cuts April 1.

All they wanted for Christmas is to get married. And thanks to kind Calgarians and a drop-in centre, Dolly Sutherland and Mark Witter finally tied the knot on Thursday afternoon.

The couple, who have been together for 14 years, have both spent time at the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre over the years. When staff at the centre asked them what they wanted for Christmas — the centre has an annual Christmas Wish List that allows holiday requests to be sponsored online by local good Samaritans — they told them about their dream of becoming husband and wife.

"As the years went by, addictions progressed and got worse," Witter told Metro Calgary. "We built everything together, we lost everything together, and for her to still stand beside me…proves quite a bit."

"He's my whole world...if I had the chance to give him the whole world, I would," Sutherland told CBC News.

Nichole Barwise saw the couple's request online and wanted to sponsor them.

"When she contacted the registry to pay the $71.50 fee for their marriage licence, she encountered another inspired soul. Registry worker Narmeen Faraj, who came to Canada 10 years ago from northern Iraq, decided she would cover the cost of the licence, and as wedding gifts, pay another $38.64 for the marriage certificate and give the newlyweds a romantic dinner at a restaurant," the Globe and Mail reported.

Faraj's coworkers stepped up, too. One loaned Sutherland her wedding dress, another offered jewelry. Itinerant Flowers Design Ltd. donated flowers. Two silver wedding bands were donated by Troy Shoppe Jewellers.

Sutherland and Witter exchanged vows at the Scarboro United Church on Thursday afternoon. An organist, flowers, cake and reception food all showed up at the affair, donated by generous Calgarians.

"I feel marvellous," Sutherland said at the wedding. "I feel like a little princess, to tell you the truth."

"It's really overwhelming," Wetter told the Globe and Mail after the ceremony. "What a road to go down, and it’s not over yet, but this is a huge, huge step."

The couple now live in apartment and have high hopes for the future:

"We can put the past away and start our new lives together," Sutherland said. "They made our wish come true, and that means a lot to us."