1. Go to the British consulate with all necessary documents and pay 50 quid, write names on piece of paper which is pinned up on the bulletin board.
2. Come back ten days later to pick up “certificate of single status”.
3. Buy train ticket to your fiancee’s home province (1000km away) one week in advance.
4. Take taxi to train station, lose phone, take overnight train, lose ticket, have to dodge way out of station.
5. Take taxi to registry office.
6. Show documents to registry office. Vital stamp missing in fiancee’s household certificate.
7. Take bus to fiancee’s hometown, 20km away.
8. Wait in cafe for police station to open.
9. Persuade police officer to stamp household certificate.
10. Get shared unlicensed taxi back to Wuhan.
11. Arrive back at registry office moments before it closes for two-day holiday, show documents, informed that we need more money and a photo.
12. Downstairs get money, take photo in nearby photo studio.
13. Return to office, fill in forms, shake hands with helpful officer.
14. Go back to Beijing.
15. Go to British consulate with marriage certificate to register marriage. Informed that we also need a notarial certificate, translated into English, from the notary public office. In Wuhan.
16. Nearly a year later, send sister-in-law down to Wuhan to get certificate, translated into English, from the notary public office.
17. Take certificate to the British consulate. Informed that the certificate needs a stamp from the Chinese foreign ministry.
18. Go to Chinese foreign ministry on weekday between 9am and 11am (only time it’s open). Told to use entrance on the other side of the building, a 15-minute walk round the block.
19. Go through scanners, given card key, find correct floor and correct queue.
20. Guy at front of queue complains that he’s been going to different offices in the building for two days, heart sinks a bit, but officer takes form and everything seems fine, until have to pay 33 quid fee and only have 31 quid in wallet.
21. Find ATM, take out money, come back, pay fee, leave.
22. Come back a week later to collect now stamped certificate.
23. Go back to British consulate, pay 34 quid fee, hand in certificate.
24. Come back next day, pick up certificate. Officially married.
Next time: How to transfer your baby’s citizenship from Chinese to British, including the process of renouncing Chinese citizenship and adding dependents to a work permit. Oh god.