A Cleveland man’s unlikely date to his sister’s wedding last weekend has made him a viral sensation.
During a 2015 drive from Ohio to Indiana, Mendl Weinstock promised his sister Riva that he would only attend her future wedding if he could bring along a llama. Riva, who was then 17 and single, rolled her eyes and balked at the suggestion.
“She was talking about her wedding almost as if it was going to happen the next day,” Mendl, now a 21-year-old student at the University of Akron in Ohio, told HuffPost. “Sitting in a car for five hours listening to this was driving me crazy. So I wanted to see if I could get a reaction out of her.”
In the end, Mendl said, his sister reluctantly agreed.
“She said, ‘Forget it, the llama is invited to the wedding,’” he recalled. “And those were the magic words.”
After Riva got engaged in October 2019, Mendl began researching llama farms in Ohio. Eventually, he settled on Shocky, a male llama used in county fairs and shows.
He said the rental set him back $400, while a co-worker supplied Shocky with a custom-designed tuxedo and yarmulke. Having the llama turn up at Riva’s nuptials on Sunday, however, was priceless.
Shocky and Mendl greeted wedding guests as they entered the banquet hall, posing for photos for about 30 minutes. When the blushing bride made her entrance, however, she didn’t appear to be amused, as evidenced by one snapshot in which she appears to be giving her brother a bit of side-eye and a snarl.
Wedding guests were in on the joke, too, placing inflatable llamas near the sweetheart table inside the venue where Riva and her new husband would be seated.
Mendl uploaded the photo of him, Riva and Shocky to Reddit, where it promptly went viral. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had garnered more than 155,000 upvotes.
Ultimately, Mendl would like to reframe the tongue-in-cheek narrative his story has inspired and remind viewers that his is a story of perseverance.
“When you promise something, you stick to your promise,” he said. “It’s not about the llama. It’s about the fact that I made a promise to my sister five years ago, and I kept that promise. Your word means something.”