My 1st Buddhist wedding: An international affair for a loving couple married in Atlanta (part 1)

15-Newlyweds stroll through the elegant Georgian Terrace Ballroom

‘Best wishes’ can be said in many languages

“A man is the wings, while a woman is like the body of a bird. If the wings and body are separated, then how can the bird fly?” -Nichiren Daishonin (Gosho p. 1476)

Esperanza Salazar and Rashad Jones were delighted to share their international wedding affair with 50 close friends, family and Nichiren Shoshu believers from around the U.S., Mexico, Guatemala and Switzerland. They’re proof that endless love transcends mixed heritage and cultural differences.

Adorned in an elegant floor-length crimson-colored gown, signifying good fortune, the beautiful bride Esperanza Salazar, 29, of Guadalajara, Mexico; and her handsome groom, N. Rashad Jones, 29, of Atlanta, were captivating as they strolled through the Georgian Terrace Hotel on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, during a sacred Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist wedding.

04-Wedding Cup Exchange for bride (E. Salazar), groom (R. Jones), priest (Rev Hori)

Rev. Jouju Hori, an orthodox Nichiren Shoshu Hokkeko priest from Taisekiji, Japan, performed the intimate Buddhist wedding. Everyone was at rapt attention as they witnessed the grand traditional marriage known as the San San Kudo (three times three) sake wedding cup exchange, symbolizing the union of body, mind and life while listening to soothing and melodic ancient Japanese music.

In honor of the newlyweds, several friends created the initial, “J” for Jones, using soft, tangerine and cherry-colored rose petals as floor art to celebrate the couple’s new life together.

10-The newlyweds (Rashad Jones and Esperanza Salazar) first kiss

Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist weddings are conducted by a Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist priest and are quite unique in nature, even though they tend to have a few aspects in common with typical Western weddings. As the ceremony begins in a Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist wedding, the bride enters the room with a melodic musical processional and stands by the groom and together they greet the priest who is performing the traditional ceremony. Then, the priest and couple along with invited guests who want to, begin reciting the Lotus Sutra and chanting, “Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo,” continuously for several minutes. Afterwards, the priest conducts the San San Kudo ceremony by pouring sake for the couple to sip into alternating cups.This is followed by a wedding ring ceremony, in which the couple exchanges their rings and affirm vows. Upon completion of the ceremony, the priest delivers a marriage address encouraging the bride and groom to grow together through their faith in Buddhism. After the priest’s encouragement, a family relative or close friend makes congratulatory remarks to the bride and groom.

The couple decided to get married through traditional Buddhist ceremony because the groom is a devoted Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist. After some discussion amongst themselves, the couple wanted to ensure that their spirits were in harmony as they embarked upon a journey to build a life and family together. Prior to the wedding, the bride also received Gojukai, the Acceptance of the Precepts Ceremony, where she became a Buddhist.

The international affair continued in March with festivities hosted by the bride’s parents in a formal destination wedding and reception overlooking the breath-taking blue waters and sandy beaches with palm trees of Los Cabos, Mexico.

Finding love in a distant land: Salazar-Jones wedding travels to Los Cabos, Mexico (part 2)

Rashad is currently serving as a U.S. Diplomat in Lima, Peru. He met Esperanza, an employee of the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico, while on temporary assignment in Mexico. The newlyweds will reside in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., until Jones’ reassignment to another part of the world.

E. Stephenie Jones is an Emmy Award-winning international journalist. She has spent more than 15 years in radio, television and print working for ABC affiliate, WJLA-TV, CNN, PBS affiliate, WCLK-FM radio, Deputy Director of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Broadcasting, and a contributing editor of a news magazine. Jones is the owner of Amedia & Associates P.R. in Atlanta, Georgia, a minority public relations service.

Be sure to check out the gallery for more photos.

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