Wearing identical Calvin Klein navy velvet tuxedos, Dylan Valenti-Kanipes and Mike Valenti-Kanipes took their vows on February 24, 2018.
“Because people always think we look alike, I wore a regular tie and Mike wore a bow tie,” Dylan says.
Everything else, down to their shoes, was the same. The rings they exchanged that day were different, but both were family heirlooms. Dylan, 26, and Mike, 24, say family and friends are very important to both of them—so much so that Dylan’s proposal in Hermann Park was an elaborate plan that took months to mount.
“We talked about getting married, and since I am the older one, we decided I would do it,” Dylan says.
Their best friend was a woman who worked in Congress and lived in Washington DC. Dylan got her to send him an official-looking email saying she had to appear at a political event in Houston—one that she wanted to invite Dylan and Mike to attend with her.
“So Mike thought we were going to a political fundraiser,” Dylan says. “We got dressed up and went to the McGovern Centennial Gardens in Hermann Park.”
All of their family and friends were there. Even the couple’s rescue dog, an odd-looking terrier mix with different-colored eyes that Mike says looks more like a squirrel.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Mike says. “And all of them knew about it months before I did.”
The two met while they were students at Texas A&M University in 2014, introduced by a mutual friend. Their first date was at an Italian restaurant, because Mike is Italian. Clearly, it was a romantic evening.
“There was a sprig of rosemary on one of the dishes,” Mike says. “I wanted to keep it, and Dylan took it home and put it on the window sill to dry, but a roommate thought it was trash and threw it away.” But they did use rosemary in the wedding decorations, as well as many other sweet, sentimental touches like the white lace on the sign-in table at the reception that came from Dylan’s mother’s wedding dress.
“We’re lucky that both our parents were very supportive and involved,” Dylan says.
“Our mothers walked us down the aisle and our fathers were both there, and they loved it,” Mike adds. “Dylan had even asked my father for his support—not for my hand, but for his support, before he proposed to me.”
The couple didn’t use a wedding planner, but spent more than a year deciding exactly what they wanted for their special day. During that time, they also adopted another rescue dog and moved into a duplex in Montrose. “I don’t know what we were thinking, but it all worked out,” Mike says.
And it did. The wedding and reception turned into a gorgeous and fun event at The Gallery, a Mediterranean-style wedding venue in the Galleria area. The wedding was held in the main courtyard as a light rain held off, and the reception featured an open bar, a pizza bar, and a DJ.
“We just wanted a big party atmosphere, but at first our mothers were against the idea of pizza,” Dylan says. “When we explained it was the authentic deep-dish Italian pie from Barry’s Pizza, served by uniformed waiters, they agreed.”
The couple made the table centerpieces by cutting the bottoms off wine bottles and putting them over candles. Dylan says that took a lot of drinking, and they even had to recruit friends to help out.
“But now we can add glass-cutting skills to our résumés,” Mike says. The couple has since made their own headboard for their home and refurbished an antique dresser from Mike’s father.
After a honeymoon in Mexico, they returned to Houston to start married life together.
“I hate to say it, but it’s exactly like it was before,” Mike says. “We lived together for two years before we got married. The only difference is that now I get to say ‘my husband’ this and ‘my husband’ that, which is pretty great.”
As for the future, both mothers keep asking about grandkids.
“We’re still young and poor.” Dylan says. He works as an architectural associate, while Mike is an investment banker. “But kids are definitely in our future. We even mentioned that in our vows, so the mothers are excited about that.”
This article appears in the September 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine.