And no two people were more surprised than us. Here’s what I wrote over at Flickr, where you can see photos from the first of what will be several wedding celebrations:
When most people wake up on their wedding day, they know they will be getting married. Not us. We thought we were going to the Shanghai Marriage Service Center to fill out some initial paperwork. We thought we’d then have to go to a hospital for tests and then return at a later date for more paperwork — at least that’s what all the websites told us. Well, they seem to have streamlined their process. And after less than 30 minutes at the office on August 12, 2006, we were pronounced husband and wife by employee No. 3. Bizarre. My attire? A “Bloomsburg Fair” T-shirt and flip-flops. I hadn’t showered. [Since a couple people have inquired about this, we should say that this “wedding” does not cancel our plans to formally tie the knot in Thailand next month. It was just easier (and much, much cheaper) to do the legal stuff here … and this way we don’t have to waste two days of our honeymoon signing papers in Bangkok. I promise I will shower, and maybe wear pants, for our beach ceremony in Koh Samui.]
I think this is something that everyone who gets married in China goes through — you are legally married before the actual big ceremony with friends and relatives. Kind of weird. Bliss and I have a nice ceremony for just the two of us planned in Thailand in September, and that will be the date on which we celebrate our anniversary, we think. We plan on having some kind of party in Shanghai later this year. And then we will have the official wedding reception on February 17, 2007 (Chinese New Year’s Eve) in Savannah, Ga. So, yeah, we are drawing this thing out as long as possible.
And yes, mom and dad, this means I now have health insurance for the first time in four years.
The driver’s license was actually much easier to acquire than the other two. I have only used it once, when we rented a car and drove to Moganshan in March. If you’d like to learn how to get your own Chinese driver’s license, the is some more info over at Shanghaiist.
The dog licenses were the result of a long, frustrating process that I haven’t felt like writing about yet. It’s actually not that difficult once you find the only police officer in your district who knows what the hell is going on. Don’t rely on your landlord. And don’t rely on your friendly neighborhood policeman, who doesn’t really know the process but wants to help so much he creates a convoluted process of his own. Find a trusted Shanghainese friend and go to the police station yourself. And remember to bring RMB 2,000.