Getting married is usually pretty straightforward thing. You meet someone, you fall in love and then you get married. Either in local registration office or in a church. Pretty simple, right?
Being me and being global makes things a bit different.
In February I started the process in Finland, I had to get the certificate about my legal status regarding ability to get married. This pretty standard procedure for Finnish people started the whole chain of events. Our local registration office will give you a certificate in four different languages if you ask but that isn’t enough. In addition to that I also opted to get a birth certificate just in case. And the registration office issued certificate for being eligible for marriage needs to be official. So you will need to get it notarized and the notarization needs to legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stamp needs to legalized by the foreign embassy, in my case by the Embassy of People’s Republic of China. And guess what? All these different parties want some fee for their work. :-)
After getting all the different documents you are ready, right? Not exactly, then you will be starting your process in the foreign country and it depends of course on the foreign government what steps you will take there. In our case, we registered in Guangzhou and the local registration office has a complete department for foreigner-Chinese couples. So you proceed to the correct floor, wait for your turn and hand out all the necessary papers. And then you will be told that that certificate for marriage eligibility needs to be translated to Mandarin. You will proceed to another floor and another department, which will happily translate your paper while you wait and also stamps it to be legal translation. In the mean time you already took some photos together because the legal document, which you will receive in the end will require some photos. Then you proceed back to the registration floor where you will realize that you need to have official copies of the legal identification documents. And you get back to the another floor where they will take the official copies. After that you proceed to another office where you will pay the official marriage fee (9 yuans) and handout all the required documents, which you filled already in the registration office and which you have been collecting. After that only few minutes waiting and it is time to actually start the ceremony.
In the ceremony part you will basically read out the legal oaths and sign the documents. The judge will hand you the nice red booklet in the end of the ceremony and you will get some photos proofing the moment.
All of this took four hours so I can now understand why people do it on separate day in China and it isn’t considered as a wedding as such but more like a registration.
And what now? Now you are ready to start the process in vice versa. You will get the English translation of the official booklet stating your married status and then you will get the translation notarized by the local notary and then legalized in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the end you will get another legalization from the Embassy of Finland. After that you are ready to hand out that document to the Finnish registration office, which will proceed with the registration in Finland. So far we are now waiting for the legalized document from Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Everything should be ready some time around mid-April.
So, it takes about two months to get everything ready. Of course everything would go much faster if I would for example live in China or we would have opted to getting married in Finland. But who wouldn’t like to gather all these experiences and also have an opportunity to study international politics and how governments work?
So, at the moment, I am happily married. Although only in China.