The little red book

I’ve always really liked Chinese certificates because they come in tiny passport-like books (as a child, passports are just cool!) This includes university student cards, vaccination records, health records and travel documents. I’ve even had a couple of them in my time. But none as special as this one:

Our marriage certificates!

Our marriage certificates!

Chinese marriage certificates are great. Tiny little red passport-style books, even with a photo of the happy couple on their special day (with a red background of course!). I never expected to have one of these, and I read others’ blogs about getting married in China with envy, whilst I dreamed of finding my own prince charming.

The story of how I met my husband is one for another day, but I’m excited I can share how we spent out wedding day. I’ve heard that Chinese don’t make a big deal out of the day, since it only marks the legal registration of the marriage (some time prior to the Wedding Banquet), but having spoken to friends and family, it seems that the celebration is simply a very private one – though they didn’t live with their spouse until after the big wedding, my husband’s cousins all refer to that date as their wedding anniversary and all marked the day in different ways.

With all our documents at the ready, we took a taxi, with my in-laws, to the city level marriage registration bureau which is authorised to deal with foreigners. Despite the lack of any ceremony, we decided to dress relatively formal – when else do you get the chance to wear a white dress! The paperwork, declarations and preparation of our certificates only took around half an hour and after that we were free to take photos in the room at the back of the office, decorated with flowers. My husband, the sparing romantic that he is, surprised me by preparing some words, so I had to come up with some equally touching to say, but fortunately it wasn’t hard. We exchanged rings and shared a kiss, before my new mother-in-law presented me with gifts and cash :-O It was really moving. Then the photos commenced!

Our wedding day

Our wedding day

We treated the rest of the day like the ultimate date (plus a couple of in-laws) and took R’s parents to the cinema to see a aptly-named film called 洋妞到我家 ‘When a Peking Family meets Aupair’ which was hilarious. All the standard stereotypes of western people came up and me and husband looked over at each other laughing every time it mentioned stereotypes that I fit!

After lunch, we checked into a Dalian’s most luxurious international hotel for the night. We were upgraded to a gorgeous suite and spent the afternoon swimming with the in-laws and pampering ourselves. It was a lovely day, and we topped it off with a massive western breakfast buffet the next morning.

I definitely feel we made the day special for us, and I feel so lucky that I get the chance to have another wedding day next year with all our family and friends (well, as many as can make it).

Linked in this blog post:
Susanna Wang‘s post ‘How to get married in Inner Mongolia’
Sara Jaaksola‘s post about the ‘Chinese Wedding Ceremony’

7 thoughts on “The little red book

  1. We also had the legal registration before the “normal” wedding. However our marriage before the state was even one year before we had our celebrations in China and in Finland (we got married before the state in Finland, so only have a normal wedding certificate, no little passport style ones ;( )


    • We won’t be holding the big celebration until next year either, we haven’t even started to think about anything except the date. Despite the wedding books being cool to look at, getting them translated will be a bit 麻烦 for visas, etc!


  2. Congrats! Glad to have stumbled upon your blog. 🙂

    There are, indeed, little booklets for everything. It’s hard to keep track of them all!


    • Hi Rosie,
      Thanks for your comment, I’ve been reading your blog since the birth of your baby, I think it’s really useful to hear other’s perspectives so thank you very much for sharing 🙂


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