Couple marries despite Hurricane Matthew damage, looters ransacking home

RALEIGH, North Carolina -- Hits to their new home by Hurricane Matthew as well as burglars couldn't keep a couple from walking down the aisle Saturday.

It was a whirlwind week for Tyler Ahrendsen and Sharifa Mattis, including actual whirling winds toppling trees on the house they recently moved into as newly weds to be.

The couple fled their Raleigh home when the power lines snapped thanks to Hurricane Matthew.

Then thieves took a turn tearing through the empty home. Looters left with lots of stuff, including wedding items - even Mattis' shoes.

"It was a very traumatic thing happening, but we really love each other and we want to lean on each other, and we did," Ahrendsen said.

First friends and then strangers started spreading the word about all the wedding items taken from the home.

Rocky Top Hospitality donated dozens of cases of beverages, napkins, cups, and more for the reception. About a dozen other shops sent things as well.

"Vendors, old friends, people we know, people we don't know, strangers just have really opened themselves up and really just given from the heart, and really helped us," the groom said.

Mattis said the big problems at the house helped her avoid potential "bridezilla moments," by reminding her that little wedding details don't matter.

"Everything that happened just put things in perspective and just kind of re-prioritized why we're doing all this, and that's because we're in love and we just want to get married and start our family," she said.

"It's really brought us together and brought our families together. At our rehearsal yesterday we had a really special energy. We have a lot to celebrate this weekend."

The couple said they feel closer every day, and view the storm and aftermath as a true test of their relationship.

Mattis said getting through it shows they can get through anything.

They say they'll take it easy this week, and then rebuild.

"Get back in there, finish the renovations, fill it with some great new memories, and just move on," Mattis told WNCN.

The newlyweds said they wanted to share their wedding day with CBS North Carolina as a way to express gratitude to all of the people in the community who came to their aid by donating items or money for the wedding.
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