My wife finally made it back to the hotel around 10 that night, and yes; things had all gone to plan. She was now the proud owner of an amended Chinese ID booklet that should allow us to get married in the morning. Nonetheless I didn’t sleep easily that night as you can probably imagine.
In the morning, Zhang Min was quite adamant that I would not be wearing a suit this time round. So I fulfilled a childhood wish of getting married in a heavy metal t-shirt (Pain’s – Cynic Paradise to be precise) and jeans. My beautiful bride to be wore a cute stripy top and jeans too.
And so with a certain amount of joy and trepidation we made our way back to the registry office. We arrived early and the building hadn’t opened yet so we joined another nervous couple on the steps of the office, and I chain smoked my jitters away.
Then the moment arrived, with absolutely no ceremony the doors were flung open and we were into room number one. I’ve been told that it’s a good idea, if you want to get married in China, to bring photos of the two of you proving that you’re a real couple and not sealing a sight unseen Internet deal. This did not prove to be the case, and instead we were asked to take a seat while a bat faced lady took our photograph for our marriage papers. 10 RMB lighter (that’s about one British pound or a dollar fifty) and 5 photos heavier (my wife hates these photos as she says they make her look old, they don’t) we were ready to face room number two and marriage.
The lady in the registry office in Chengdu was the finest person I met on my initial China trip; she spoke fluent English and was enormously helpful and professional throughout. She talked us through the process, essentially we both had to fill in a form – on the top half of each form we had to write all our own details (passport number, address, date of birth etc.) and on the bottom half we had to fill in our partner’s details. Given that I don’t write Chinese and my wife doesn’t write much English –we swapped over half way through and just filled our own information on each.
Then you each sign both pieces of paper, whilst the lady prepared our wedding certificates we had a nice chat with her about living in Saudi Arabia. I think she’s still the only Chinese person I’ve met who had any curiosity about my life before China at all. Then five minutes later we had our little red books and were about to ask for directions to the notary public (so we could obtain English versions) when the nice woman in the office announced that if we just popped next door the guy from the notary was in the building at the moment and he could handle the paperwork there.
I left a donation of 100 RMB for the registry office (getting married actually costs nothing – and you can even bring your own photos if you can get a better deal than 10 RMB elsewhere) and we bounced into the notary’s room, handed over one of our little red books and 150 RMB for the translation and agreed to pick up the papers from the notaries office in the morning before my wife left to look after her mother and I flew back to Hong Kong.
Then we went off to have a wedding breakfast – in Starbucks, where we hassled some nice foreign stranger to take a couple of photos of our just married selves.