Dear Ms. Wai — Where Should We Get Married?

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Dear Ms. Wai,

Me and my Chinese guy have been together for a few years and we want to get married. We’ve been pretty successful with dealing with culture and language differences, but now we have hit a wall. We can’t agree which country we should get married in!

We currently live in China, and have plans to stay here for several years, so my guy says we should get married in China. But our long term plan is to go back to my home country (Australia) and we have a trip planned to visit my family this summer so I think that is a perfect time to do it there.

I know whichever country we will choose we will need to translate documents and stuff, but which country do you think is better?

I think the answer to which country is best for you to get married lies in which country you want to settle long term. You say you are in China now, and are staying for a few years, so I see your boyfriends logic. Living together in China with a Chinese marriage certificate is easiest, and aside from a paper from your embassy, theylegal restrictions are not too hard for a foreigner to get married in China. Nor is it very expensive.

But if your long-term plans are to both move back to your country, you might be right. It depends on what you want. Do you want to move back to Australia permanently? Are you thinking of kids and raising them in Australia? Is your (future) hubby gonna apply for a green card? If the answer to that is yes, then maybe getting married in Australia would be better.

As you probably know, getting a green card in China is extremely difficult. Marriage to a local, and even having children together and owning property is no guarantee you will receive a green card. I’m not sure of the laws in Australia but I’m guessing getting a green card is easier there, and doable for your Chinese husband, and having an Australian marriage certificate might make the whole process that much easier.

You’ll need to look into the local laws (as I’m sure you have done already) but if the process for a foreigner marrying in Australia isn’t too difficult, and if your long-term plan is to live and stay in Australia then I say Australia is the best choice (though you will likely need to get it translated and register the marriage in China). If you aren’t sure of your future, then I say get married in China, and if someday you want to move and get a green card deal with the process then (which probably involves a lot of translated documents and embassy stamps, but I am not sure the legal process).

Also, there is an emotional consideration to getting married. In China it is done at the government office. It can’t be done anywhere else. Depending on your religious beliefs you might prefer a church wedding or to be married by a minister/rabbi etc. So that might factor into your decision as well.

And while you might only be able to get legally married once, the best part of an multicultural relationship is you can have multiple wedding parties in multiple countries! Regardless of where you get married you can still have a party in both China and Australia as now you have family and friends in both. Might as well take advantage of it!

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Ms Wai

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