Road To Wedlock Part II: Barely Legal

Gawd, the amount of misplaced search engine traffic I’m going to get from that…

So, it’s done. I’m – in the eyes of the People’s Republic of China – married. And here’s the kicker: how many people do you know showed up for their marriage unshowered, unshaved and not having brushed their teeth? Well, to be fair, how many people propose over shredded cow tongue… apparently, conventions are not my strong point when it comes to marriage.

Anyway, just to be clear, this whole “marriage” thing is only a legality. Though it’s been a bit of a trip calling Maggie 老婆 for the last couple days, we’re both committed to preserving the idea that our “marriage” is the ceremony in February. The reason we did this now was because when we do actually get married, we wanted it to be official, and as planning the ceremony is an exercise in patience like I’ve never experienced before… we just wanted one less thing we had to worry about.

Turns out we chose a great day for it – as Monday was a collision of good luck days between the Western and Chinese calendars. It being the 18th of December and the 28th day of the 10th month respectively. Both 18 and 28 (or indeed any number with in it) are considered lucky because 八 sounds similar (in a rather abstract way) to . This led to people all over China using Monday as their wedding day (a photo from the Nanjing marriage office). And here Maggie and I just showed up, oblivious to what other couples likely spent months preparing for.

We were also saved the hardship of any long lines. We arrived to an empty office, and were later joined by just two other couples. I was amazed at the coincidence that both couples were also foreign/Chinese pairings. Amazed until Maggie later explained that we were at a special office just for foreigners marrying Chinese. Yeah, not the sharpest toothpick of the bunch, me.

The rest of the time in Dalian was also excellent, despite being short. It was great to see my buddies Gabriel and Rick again. Them being two of the few remaining friends I have left in the city. Transient friends kinda suck that way.

In case it is useful to anyone:

How To Get Legally Married In China (or at least in Dalian)

  1. Get a Certificate of Non-Impediment (or an ‘affidavit in lieu of’ if your government doesn’t produce the first, as is the case with Canada). I got this from the Canadian Consulate in Shanghai for 345 RMB. Despite various web sites saying I needed to get this from the office that handles the area I was getting married in (that would be Beijing for Dalian), it was just fine.
  2. Get the certificate or affidavit translated. We were told various things here, such as needing to get this translation done by a notary. Perhaps this is only the case if you get the forms online and not direct from the consulate in China (as they notarize it themselves). We did, however, need to get the form translated by an official translation company (the guys with the “we translate officially” red stamp).
  3. Get a bunch (we needed four, but I’d get a few extra) of official marriage photos done with you and your wife/husband to be. These are a lot like the passport/ID photos continually needed by the bureaucracy of China and can be got at any photo shop. The photo needs to be on a red background, and you both need to be in it together. Smiling is frowned upon.
  4. Go to Dalian (or indeed where ever your loved one’s hùkǒu is) and go to the marriage office for foreigners (in Dalian it is on the 6th floor of 150 WanSui Rd.).
  5. Give the kindly woman with broken English the original certificate of non-impediment, the translation, the photos, your passport, and your Chinese-half’s ID card and Permanent Residence Booklet.
  6. You will then need to fill out three forms. One I believe is a general application form, and the other two are identical sworn statements from each of you. One is filled out in Chinese by your soon-to-be spouse and the other is filled out in English by you. It contains things like “do you swear you’re single?”, “do you REALLY swear you’re single?” and “are you ill?” Plus the standard personal info (DoB, etc.).
  7. You give these to the woman and then swear that it is all true (after confirming she’s got the right spelling of your long Irish name). You also swear that you are aware of the health of the person you are marrying. This is a big hangup that Chinese seem to have. We didn’t need a health check but we had to be really clear that we KNEW, REALLY KNEW, our spouse wasn’t going to kack tomorrow.
  8. After staining your thumb red and putting your fingerprint on various spots of the recently filled-out documents, you are presented with two booklets and asked for 15 RMB.
  9. Leave the office wondering what the fuss was all about and why you have an ulcer for worrying that you were going to be turned away for not completing one of the steps properly. You’re married. Go celebrate.

In summary, I travelled 2,100km over about 10 hours (with busses, shuttles and planes), and paid a total of about 3000 RMB ($425 CAN) to get a 15 RMB ($2 CAN) booklet. But I did get one helluva wife outta the deal.

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  1. Pingback: Life In Suzhou China Blog | Adventures of the Humanaught » Blog Archive » Returning To Dalian

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