It wasn’t what either of us had planned, getting married in China. It just turned out to be the only viable option. My wife had been living in Malaysia and as we both love that country we’d have liked to have tied the knot there, but there’s a 28 day residency requirement that made it completely impractical with my job in Saudi.
We looked at the UK, no problem apart from she’d need to stay 28 days and I’d have to fly in with her and register the marriage. Then go back to Saudi, and come back for a final 14 days before the wedding – again utterly impractical.
Then we examined the rest of the world and in each and every case, either her “Chinese-ness” or my “British-ness” made the whole deal either impossible or ridiculously time consuming and often financially unviable too.
So then we finally looked at China, firstly Hong Kong (another no go, the same rules perhaps unsurprisingly as the UK) and it turns out getting married in China is a doddle. Or at least somewhat easier than anywhere else, as long as one of you is Chinese (it is possible for two foreigners to get married in China, technically, but I’ve never heard of anyone who’s made it through the bureaucratic hoops to do so).
All I needed was a sworn statement from a notary public promising I’d never been married before (which I hadn’t) and this needed stamping by the foreign office and the Chinese embassy in the UK. And all she needed were her divorce papers and her national ID.
Once you have that all you have to do is rock up in the town in which the Chinese partner’s hukou (national identity card) is registered and you’re away. Of course in the end it wasn’t quite that simple but life rarely is, but that story is part of my “first impressions” series and doesn’t belong here.
(Please note, this is true for British nationals other nationalities need to follow the process for their own country – in the majority of cases this will be the same. But there are exceptions – US nationals spring immediately to mind, so please don’t use this as a guide to planning your own wedding here).