Shifu Proudly Pronounced the Handsome Couple Husband and Wife

Sometimes, when you look hard, you find magic. But on April 9th, in a slice of paradise called Aguadilla, it was everywhere. The source: Io and Dan.

Shifu recently received the honor of officiating the marriage of Daniel Weiner (endearingly referred to as Heng Neng) and Ioana Alfonso (even more endearingly referred to as Io, pronounced ē-oh). The lovely couple celebrated their union on what could have been just another beautiful sun-filled day in Puerto Rico. What set this day apart, however, was not just the love Io and Neng shared with each other.  It was the love they shared with everyone else – family, friends, and strangers alike. It brimmed and flowed graciously and freely as it graced all aspects of the celebration. Even the humblest corners, such as the processional, were not overlooked.

The Caribbean breeze ushered the ceremony to commence as Shifu took the processional lead as officiant.  As he took center stage under the symbolic Chuppah, the groom followed. Yet rather than walking in alone, Neng walked hand-in-hand with his mother and father on each side. Smiles abound, each silent step they took in sync across the lawn spoke volumes.

Yet, their entrance was to be rivaled by what followed. In a glow, ineffably radiant and beautiful, the bride appeared in the distance. Accompanied by her fathers, Io was brought, not to Neng, but first to her mother who was waiting for her at the base of the aisle. Tearful and happy, the beautiful pair – mother and daughter – walked across the rose petals that the flower girl had so carefully laid out for them earlier.

Rather than the perfunctory walk down the aisle, Io and Neng used this moment to pay tribute and remind us of the sacred bond between all of us as well as the endless bond that Io and Neng were soon to enter.  And with such an overture, Shifu cemented the moment with a rose water blessing.

Just as the processional honored cherished ties, the body of the ceremony memorialized the harmony that strengthens them. It epitomized how many different traditions – Buddhist, Catholic, secular, and Jewish – can come together into a seamless celebration of love. Shifu, in colorful regalia, opened with the reading of the Heart Sutra, which gives insights to the fundamental emptiness in all form.  Following the Buddhist text was the Hispanic wedding tradition, the rosary ceremony. Io and Neng were wrapped in a rosary of a figure eight to signify the eternal unity that bound them in marriage.  This symbol was then extended beyond the couple through the lighting of the unity candles, which declared the merger not only of Io and Neng but also of their two families. Finally, the Jewish tradition of breaking the glass reminded us how we are forever deeply shaped and reshaped by our relationships. Mozel Tov!

And with that jubilant cheer, Shifu proudly pronounced Neng and Io husband and wife.