Something ‘Old World,’ Something New

On the surface, Michael John Mendieta and Whitaker Ben Irvin Jr. couldn’t be more different.

Mr. Mendieta, 32, is a comedy writer and social media content creator. He has around 480,000 followers on Instagram, where he makes viral jokes and memes about pop culture and current events. He was one of the influencers chosen by Instagram to cover this year’s Met Gala. He summed up the festivities with a video of Karl Lagerfeld saying, “I only wanted one thing: to get out of there.”

Mr. Irvin, 38, is a fifth generation executive in the family’s energy business. “Our family has been in the business since the 1800s,” he said. “In the old days it was oil, gas, ranching and mining. My dad switched us over to hydrogen.” Mr. Irvin is now the chief executive of Q Hydrogen, which created and uses new technology to transform water into efficient, clean energy.

“It’s not just his name that is old school,” said Mr. Mendieta, laughing. “When he was going to kindergarten he asked his mom if he could wear a suit.”

The differences didn’t end with their professions or fashion styles. Mr. Mendieta came out as gay when he was 18 and was “the gayest ever,” as he put it. Mr. Irvin, who was previously married to a woman, had not told his family or close friends he was bisexual until fairly recently.

And when the two met during the pandemic, Mr. Mendieta was taking a break from his small apartment in New York City and living with his parents outside Boston. Mr. Irvin, by contrast, was residing in a sprawling house in Park City, Utah.

They matched on Tinder in November 2020 when Mr. Irvin was visiting Boston for work, and met in person the next month for drinks at the Liberty Hotel in Boston. They went Christmas shopping the next day. “We walked into Tiffany’s and I realized I had never gotten my ring sized, so I got it done,” Mr. Mendieta said. The errand would prove handy: “Whit remembered what size it was from that day when he proposed to me, which is stupidly cute.”

The couple decided on a “black-tie festive” dress code. “Formal but personal,” the wedding invitation said. “We want you to show your personality on our day.”Credit…Kindred

They ended up having four dates in four days. “Everything just flowed,” Mr. Irvin said. “It was so easy and comfortable to be around him.”

“It was a deep spiritual connection,” Mr. Mendieta added, “but we could also have the best time and relax and be positive. It was a combination of all these things that I had been looking for.”

In late January 2021, they met up in New Orleans (“Our fifth date was a week long,” Mr. Mendieta said, laughing) and then a month later they were in Park City, where they went skiing, ice skating and snowmobiling.

By that March, Mr. Irvin knew he was ready to break the news to his family. “It was harder for some people to grasp than others, but everyone has come around,” he said. “I tried to give them time. They didn’t even know I had been dating men.”

Something else Mr. Irvin had to contend with was Mr. Mendieta’s social media career, in which he regularly puts his private life on display. “I didn’t want to stifle his creativity or dictate what he did,” he said. “But I am very visible. I meet with government officials all the time. What we are doing technologically speaking is bringing something into the world that could very well help shape energy policy and help save the planet, and I want to make sure I am seen in the right light.”

Mr. Mendieta offered to not post about himself anymore, but the couple decided he could keep going as long as it wasn’t too scandalous. Mr. Mendieta added that he hopes to eventually shift his focus to ghost or TV writing.

In August, just eight months after meeting, Mr. Irvin, a history buff, proposed during a trip to Rome. He decided it would be meaningful to pop the question at Castel Sant’Angelo, a fortress down the river from the Vatican. “There were times when relationships like ours were seen as normal even at the Vatican,” he said. “I thought it was important to do it near the Vatican and make this point.”

The grooms met in Boston through Tinder nearly three years ago. Mr. Irvin was there for work, while Mr. Mendieta was taking a break from his small New York apartment and living with his parents.Credit…Kindred

He secured a vintage ring from Houston, and hired a violinist and photographer to be on site. “I had even arranged to go to a restaurant afterward where we had to wear suits so we would look good in our photos,” he said.

When planning the wedding, the couple knew they had to blend their two worlds. “Our theme was this old world meets the new,” Mr. Mendieta said. “It’s not just that I am the new, and Whit is the old world. Whit is an old soul but is bringing new technology and new innovation. I am a new soul but I have always loved things like poetry since I was young.”

They settled on Rosecliff, a Gilded Age mansion in Newport, R.I., that was close to Mr. Mendieta’s family and also had meaning for Mr. Irvin, because he lived in Boston for a few years and was part of a sailing team that traveled regularly to Newport.

The mansion was undergoing a full renovation, so they had to wait two years to get married. “It meant we had a lot of time to plan,” Mr. Mendieta said. “It was a lot of sprinting and then waiting. We locked in the vendors and then we did nothing for four months.”

They decided the dress code would be something they called “black-tie festive.” The invitation said, “Formal but personal. We want you to show your personality on our day.”

The happy newlyweds posed for photos with a few of their guests.Credit…Kindred
The historic mansion was adorned with a variety of flowers and greenery.Credit…Kindred

The ceremony was led by David Raynal, a spiritual adviser to Mr. Irvin, who was certified by the state of Rhode Island as an officiant for the affair. He recited two readings, one old and one new, chosen by the couple: a Native American poem about the interconnectivity of the earth and a piece that Mr. Mendieta wrote himself.

“What I really like is that they put together a wedding that was so reflective of them,” Mr. Raynal said. “They give us hope that we don’t have to be put in these boxes and be with a certain person. You can just be in love with someone, and it doesn’t have to be a certain way.”

Each groom was accompanied down the aisle by family members and a string quartet. “That was my favorite part,” said Antonio Mendieta, 72, Mr. Mendieta’s father, who lives in Kissimmee, Fla. “We came down these really big stairs together and I got to tell my son that I really like Whit, and I am very happy they are getting married.”

Amber Mark, the Grammy-nominated R&B singer and songwriter who is a friend of the couple, performed the first few songs at the reception, including each of the groom’s first dance with his mother.

Another highlight was the cake. A local baker made it from a recipe that belonged to Mr. Irvin’s great-great grandmother. “She got the recipe from the Waldorf, and it stayed in the family long before it was made public,” Mr. Irvin said. “It was kind of difficult because there is a food coloring in it that doesn’t exist anymore.” The cake was cut by a cake cutter that Mr. Mendieta’s grandmother had used for her wedding in 1944.

The last two songs of the evening, played by a D.J., tied the theme together, Mr. Mendieta said. “Our second to last song was ‘One More Time’ by Daft Punk, and it ended up being so good, because it’s a long song, like five minutes, and people were going crazy for it,” he said. “Then we played Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way,’ which is an ode to the fact that everything we do, we do it our way.”

A friend of the couple, the R&B singer Amber Mark, performed the first few songs at the reception.Credit…Kindred

On This Day

Where Rosecliff mansion, Newport, R.I.

When Sept. 14, 2023

Flowers Everywhere Even though they were in a historic venue, it was important for the couple that it felt fresh and not stuffy. “I was especially obsessed with the flowers — they had to make it feel alive,” Mr. Mendieta said. Among the greenery and blooms adorning the mansion were jasmine vine, Italian ruscus and garden rose caramel roses.

Car Troubles The couple arrived at the mansion in a rented 1964 white Rolls-Royce, which suddenly stalled when they got to the driveway. “Two strangers — someone walking and someone on their bike — stopped and helped us push this car up the driveway,” Mr. Mendieta said. “I sent videos to my family, and they all thought I was joking, but it was real.”

Grammy-Worthy Performance Ms. Mark said that her friends who got together during the pandemic, including Mr. Mendieta and Mr. Irvin, inspired one of the songs she sang at the wedding. “She is my favorite artist, and I love her music so much that sometimes I forget we are friends,” Mr. Mendieta said.

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