When Riva Weinstock got married on a sunny winter day in her home state of Ohio, she had to contend with a pretty unconventional wedding crasher: a llama.
Most brides do everything they can to avoid uninvited party guests, especially livestock, but the 22-year-old had always kind of expected this would happen. It all started five years ago when the Ohio resident was on a road trip to Indiana with her younger brother, Mendl Weinstock.
"We were stuck in the car together and she was talking about her wedding as if she was planning on having it the next day. At the time, she was 17 and not even dating anyone so this was naturally annoying me having to hear about it for five hours," he told TODAY Style.
Like many younger brothers, Weinstock, now 21, found a creative way to get under his sister's skin.
"Just to get a reaction out of her I said, 'I'm not coming to the wedding.' Of course this upset her, and she told me I had to. To push it even further, I said the next most random thing to come to my mind: 'If you make me come, I'm bringing a llama with me," he recalled.
While she was initially annoyed, Weinstock eventually gave in, telling her brother that the llama was invited to the wedding. Little did she know he'd actually follow through with his spur of the moment idea.
"Ever since that day and those words, I have vowed that when she got married I would bring a llama to the wedding," he said.
So when Weinstock got engaged last October, her brother went to work and called a llama farm in Southern Ohio to arrange a rental for her wedding day. He gave her a quick heads up, and the bride-to-be braced herself for what she hoped was still a big joke.
"At first I brushed it off as a typical little brother comment, but he kept bringing it up over the years and eventually I had to realize that this was for real," she told TODAY.
Weinstock secured a full-size male llama named Shocky for the day and had a coworker sew him a tuxedo so that this guest of honor would be dressed for the occasion. To finish off the look, Shocky even got his own yarmulke.
When she first saw Shocky, Weinstock had quite the spirited reaction, saying, "I hate you so much" to her younger brother. "I thought it was pretty funny for a few seconds, but the whole thing lost its appeal pretty quickly," she recalled.
But after a few laughs, the bride took it all in good stride. Still, she had one request: Shocky couldn't come inside. So his handlers stood outside for two hours while guests arrived and had fun posing with the dapper llama.
"Everyone who saw him got a good laugh out of it and thought it was amazing that I followed through on my promise from five years ago," Weinstock said.
At the reception, the bride's creative brother posted a photo of his sister with the llama to Reddit and it quickly went viral, amassing more than 150,000 upvotes.
The bride got a kick out of the whole experience, but make no mistake about it: She won't be letting her brother off the hook very easily.
"I will absolutely be exacting my revenge. Just you wait," she said.