Tag Archives: international marriage

The Big Day

25 Sep

The smell of burning and sandalwood dissolved into the morning air as smoke floated up from the houses below. From his home we could look down into the village and up into the mountains. Wong talked with his mother and made his baby nephew laugh as I finished packing our things.

I met Wong’s mother last year in Shenzhen but we couldn’t speak much because we didn’t share a common tongue and she appeared to have something serious to discuss with her only son. There was still little conversation between us but she seemed softer and lighter this time round, maybe it was the baby’s influence. He was one of those sparkly babies: effervescent with laughter. Wong never seriously talked about us having children until he encountered this beautiful bambino.

The time came for us to leave, there was a long day ahead of us. Bye bye baby, bye bye mother, and off we went. We followed a concrete path through rice paddies and green fields. The day was already heating up and we were only five-minutes into a half-hour trek to the bus station. As we approached the village Wong strolled into a random house where three generations of a family, plus a rather big German Shepherd, were beginning their day. Shrieking laughter put me at ease. Family friends. After much talking and shrieking, the man of the household offered us a bike ride to the bus station, which was much appreciated.

The downhill journey through narrow alleys with oncoming traffic was more nerve wracking than last night’s odyssey, our proximity to walls and moving vehicles troubled me. After a really close encounter with a small van I realized that we just had to surrender our fate to the man at the helm, there was nothing else we could do.

We were dropped off at the bus station, which sat behind a row of shops and resembled a private parking lot. There wasn’t much to see except for a couple of cars, a red bus and a few chickens.

Once we arrived in town we got our passport photos taken (with the pair of us against a red background) and headed straight to the Bureau of Civil Administration (mín zhèng jú 民政局) only to be told that I had to had to get my passport information page translated. I knew I forgot to do something

So off we went, on the back of yet another motorbike, to the Notary Public Office (gōng zhèng chù 公证处). Once we had the translated document and Notarial Certificate (gōng zhèng shū 公证书) everything was pretty straight forward. I already had my Certificate of No Impediment from the British Embassy, which they issued in Chinese and English, and all Wong needed to bring was his identity card (shēn fèn zhèng 身份证) and Household Register (jū mín hù kǒ bù 居民户口簿).

We were the first foreign and Chinese marriage in this area so there was a lot of cross-referencing of sample documents and notes. The rules had only been changed yesterday so that we had to get our marriage certificate from Wong’s hometown. If we had tied the know a few days earlier then we would have got our certificate in Guangzhou, the capital of the province. The local people dealing with our application were very welcoming, plying us with tea and longan berries as we waited for the paperwork to be processed. I doubt we would have received such warm treatment in the capital.

After all the dashing around on two wheels, we finally got our marriage certificate at 5pm. No church bells or confetti. We simply took our backpacks and headed to the coach station. Via motorbike.


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