Reg­istry of­fice wed­dings may be­come com­mon

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By FAN FEIFEI fan­feifei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Cou­ples a bit jit­tery about plan­ning their wed­ding cer­e­mony need not worry: The govern­ment can ar­range it for you.

Cou­ples in Bei­jing and Shang­hai as well as Shan­dong and Hubei prov­inces have had the op­tion of hav­ing a free mar­riage cer­e­mony courtesy of their lo­cal civil af­fairs bu­reaus im­me­di­ately af­ter they reg­is­ter their mar­riage.

The pro­ce­dure has been deemed suc­cess­ful enough that the Min­istry of Civil Af­fairs is con­sid­er­ing spread­ing the free and vol­un­tary cer­e­mony to other re­gions of China. One of the hopes is that the process will in­still a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity for mar­riage in the new cou­ple.

In the bureau-led cer­e­mony, cou­ples fill out the req­ui­site mar­riage li­cense forms, re­ceive stamps on their cer­tifi­cates and yes, they have a cer­e­mony, com­plete with a cer­ti­fied pre­sen­ter at the bureau who acts as the wit­ness.

Bridge and groom are first asked about their will­ing­ness to get mar­ried and are in­formed of their rights and obli­ga­tions as man and wife. The bureau then of­fers to lead them through wed­ding vows. Fi­nally, the mar­riage cer­tifi­cates are is­sued.

Ac­cord­ing to Xin­hua News Agency, an of­fi­cial from the Min­istry of Civil Af­fairs said ear­lier this week that the free cer­e­mony is com­pletely vol­un­tary and is held in a spe­cial rit­ual hall at the bureau. The cer­e­mony will teach the new cou­ple about their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to­gether and make a deeper com­mit­ment to love, the of­fi­cial said.

Zheng Jinli, 27, and An Yali, 20, came to the Bei­jing Chaoyang dis­trict mar­riage regis­tra­tion of­fice on Tues­day in honor of Qixi Fes­ti­val, also known as Chi­nese Valen­tine’s Day.

“We have never heard about this cer­e­mony. It is not very im­por­tant to have a cer­e­mony, but liv­ing a good life is more sig­nif­i­cant,” Zheng said.

An em­ployee at the reg­istry of­fice un­der the Bei­jing Civil Af­fairs Bureau said the cer­e­mony will be held only if the cou­ple wants it. The cer­e­mony, the staff mem­ber said, lasts only seven min­utes.

Chen Ru, di­rec­tor of the Bei­jing Haid­ian dis­trict mar­riage regis­tra­tion of­fice, said: “We have had the cer­e­mony for more than 10 years. The new­ly­weds re­veal their true feel­ings at the cer­e­mony.”

Chen said the reg­is­trars will give a cou­ple the op­tion of hav­ing a cer­e­mony af­ter the regis­tra­tion. All of the pre­sen­ters are ap­par­ently trained in hold­ing wed­ding cer­e­monies.

The di­rec­tor said many new cou­ples wel­come the wed­ding regis­tra­tion cer­e­mony and in­vite their par­ents to at­tend, Chen added.

Jiang Yong­ping, a re­searcher from the Women’s Stud­ies In­sti­tute of China, said the cer­e­mony is a fru­gal op­tion for cou­ples.

“It can re­place the tra­di­tional Chi­nese wed­ding cer­e­mony, which is very ex­pen­sive and ex­trav­a­gant,” said Jiang, who added that new cou­ples can bet­ter un­der­stand their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and com­mit­ments to mar­riage with the cer­e­mony. He Dan and Liu Yi­ran con­trib­uted to this story.

HOU ZHI / FOR CHINA DAILY

A cou­ple has a cer­e­mony and re­ceives mar­riage li­censes at a lo­cal regis­tra­tion of­fice in Xi’an dur­ing Qixi Fes­ti­val.

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