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Tying the Knot in the PRC

17 May

Celebrating the Chinese Nuptials with Champagne at Aria in the China World Hotel

We got hitched!  And, we did it Chinese style.  Honestly, it was a wonderful, hilarious, and completely crazy experience. While we absolutely feel like husband and wife – I must admit that at this point we sometimes refer to it as a hybrid.  I think you will see why after I explain the way I stopped being a “kept woman” (my sweet grandmother’s words…not mine) and we became legally bound here in the PRC.

It all started with an affidavit. Very Romantic.  We made an appointment at the US Embassy and before we knew it we were raising our right hands and swearing our eligibility for marriage under oath.  Surprisingly, US Citizens can not actually get married at the US Embassy – so we were off to an official, Chinese government approved translating office to translate the affidavit in order for the Chinese Marriage Office to recognize it.  Clearly, it would have been much too easy for the US Embassy to provide the four sentence document in a bilingual format, right?  Sarcasm intended.

FASHION: Red Silk Birdie Bass Bustier with a High Waisted Fuchsia D&G Skirt

Unfortunately, we realized upon arrival at the translation office, that the process takes a few days…so even though I had dressed for the occasion in a very special red ensemble (the Chinese color for a happy marriage) it was not going to be our Chinese Wedding Day just yet….

While waiting for the document, we did our research and gathered all other necessary documents for our meeting with the Chinese Marriage Office.  Passports…visas…birth certificates…Brett’s work visa…a copy of our lease…my temporary registration with the police…and 3 photos.  I bundled everything together in a cute pink folder, and we (Brett, his assistant Fancy Nancy – our wonderful witness, and I) retrieved the translated affidavit and went directly to get ourselves hitched!

Our super cute Chinese Marriage Certificates that I annoyingly showed every stranger at the restaurant!

Lucky for us (well maybe…keep your fingers crossed) the Chinese believe it is lucky to get married at the beginning of the week…not the end like we were doing.  But since we are not Chinese, and we don’t believe this, we were absolutely thrilled to walk in and be helped right away.  I don’t think we have ever been anywhere in this country without 50 people waiting in some semblance of a line.  (The straight line has not really caught on here just yet.)

Other than Hello! – no one spoke a lick of English at the Marriage Office. Fortunately, Nancy could translate whatever was above a second grader’s vocabulary to us (that is as far as I have made it so far).  They asked for each document one at a time and eventually requested the 3 photos. Silly me assumed that this was to prove our true love and commitment to one another and avoid questions of a permanent resident visa scam – so I didn’t just bring 3, I brought 7.  Some from our travels, some hugging, and others which might show the length of our time together.  The representative gladly took them from me, and began to thoroughly review them – even showing them to her colleagues.  After about 5 minutes of flipping through the photos, she handed them back to us, giggled, and told us that the 3 photos required should be official marriage portraits taken at a studio with a red background – measuring exactly 4cmX6cm.  Clearly, she could tell instantly that our photos were not correct, but I just love that she thumbed through them for her own enjoyment – secretly laughing at the stupid Blonde in Beijing.

As it was getting a bit late in the afternoon, we rushed to a portrait studio to take our “official” photos.  I was wearing a red silk bustier (for good luck) which basically made me look like a floating head against the backdrop – so we thought it was best for me to wear my jacket (which by the way is the same jacket I was wearing the night that Brett and I shared our first kiss on the streets of New York!)  The nice photographer quickly photoshopped out the shiny sweat on our foreheads (due to our quick jog to the studio) and we made it back to the Marriage Office before closing.

This is where is gets particularly funny…I assumed that we were in for a treat with a Chinese ceremony or some form of oath in the native tongue – but no.  It was nothing like that.  After we turned in the correct photos – the clerk typed our information into the computer and ask us to pay the 9 RMB fee for our certificates (that is the equivalent of $1.50…Dad, I will send you the bill shortly).  Money exchanged hands, and we were given 2 red folders (like little red passports) – one with Brett’s name stating his marriage to me, and the other with my name stating my marriage to him.  And just like that…I became Mrs. Brett Hutchinson! (Of course, there were many other hoops to jump through to make my name change official – but on March 25, 2011 – Brett Hutchinson and I were married in the People’s Republic of China.  For all of those who didn’t think Brett would ever even get married…I imagine that you never thought that if he did – it would be in China of all places!

Receipt for our 9RMB ($1.50) Wedding

I hope that you can see why we are referring to it as a bit of a hybrid – we still haven’t actually said our vows.  Those will take place in September in South Africa (just the two of us).  But before that – we will have a Stateside celebration in August with our beloved friends and family, and a party with our friends here in Beijing.

We would like to send a special thank you to our friends in Dalian who surprised us with a traditional style celebration.  See the pictures of us below in full Chinese Marriage Garb.  BTW – Brett might be the only bearded man to have ever worn this.

On stage in Dalian in traditional Chinese wedding attire. That headpiece weighed about 20 lbs! Also, check out the big screen behind us!

A look of doubt?? Of course not!!

With our gift of 99 red roses for a happy life!

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8 Responses to “Tying the Knot in the PRC”

  1. Martha May 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    Morgan, Congratulations!!! You will always have a lot of memories of your wedding!! There is the same amount of paperwork here to get married also!! Be happy!

  2. mona May 17, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    I believe you may be the only blonde to have ever worn the Traditional chinese wedding ensemble as well as Mr. Beardy!!! Love the pics!

  3. Lizzie May 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    Best wishes always!!! Love the Chinese wedding attire, and wow, those 99 roses are beautiful!!

    Love,
    Lizzie

  4. Greg and Dione May 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    This is the first blog I have received and obviously the most important. I was one of those who thought Brett may never marry. I was always prepared to turn his wedding into a roast. You have both stolen my thunder. Realistically, I’m not convinced that the States actually recognize your marriage. In all seriousness,Congrats! We couldn’t be happier for you both. Mazel Tov!
    By the way, Brett is not the only person to have a bad beard wearing that garment. Many a fu man chu have adorned it.

  5. Rain May 17, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    Congratulations! You look great in red, lol! Xoxo

  6. Gloria Rexing May 20, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    Congradulations. Love the story. I think they put you though this process and figure if you stick with it, make it to the end and get the official marriage certificate, then it must be true love.
    Can’t wait to meet you, Morgan. Brett, you are so handsome. The love is just flowing from your photos. We are so happy for you.

    Gloria and Gerry

  7. Karen Baldwin July 13, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    What a great story, Morgan! Wishing you both a lifetime of happiness. I hope to see you again soon. We miss you at Bama.

    Karen Baldwin

    • morganharbin July 15, 2011 at 10:35 am #

      So great to hear from you, Karen! Thank you for your warm wishes. I hope you are doing well, and I hope to see you soon. Trying to plan a visit down there next football season!

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