We’re just back from a weekend in Hong Kong, celebrating the wedding of our friends, Franziska and Marco. We were honoured to be the witnesses at the ceremony, as well as the only guests. With a baby on the way, coupled with the need to be eligible for a spouse visa in China, Franziska and Marco decided that a quick marriage down in Hong Kong was the best option for them.
Hong Kong has certainly a destination my betrothed and I have considered while we’ve been planning our wedding, which is due to take place in the United Kingdom in June. Because of slightly complex residency requirements to get married in the UK, we did look abroad for suitable places to get hitched. In the end, however, we decided to go through the painful process required to get married in the city where we met, Sheffield, but it was a close-run thing. There are definitely some very good reasons why you should consider Hong Kong if you’re looking for an international wedding destination!
If like Franziska and Marco, and my husband-to-be and I, you’re an international couple living abroad, it can be difficult to arrange a marriage ceremony in your home country, especially if there are residency requirements for couples intending to wed. There might also be practical reasons why you’d prefer not to get married in the country in which you’re currently residing. For example, getting married in Mainland China is possible for foreign couples but with language barriers and China’s own brand of confusing bureaucracy, it can feel a little complicated.
This is where Hong Kong comes into its own. Although there is a waiting period before you can get hitched, Hong Kong does not require couples to be resident, while the documentation required is fairly straightforward and everything can be done in English! You can manage most of the process by post until a few days before the ceremony when you’ll need to make final arrangements in person.
Hong Kong marriage law requires two witnesses to oversee the ceremony and sign your marriage certificate, so grab a couple of friends and head to Hong Kong for a trip you won’t forget!
There are a number of wedding venues around the city, but the prettiest, and most popular, is Cotton Tree Drive Registry office. Nestled in the lush surroundings of Hong Kong Park, surrounded on all sides by contrasting modern skyscrapers, the venue is one of the surviving blocks of the old Victoria Barracks, one of the first British military compounds in Hong Kong. The building is a rare piece of built heritage in the city’s highly urbanised central business district.
There, an Official Deputy Registrar of Marriages will take you through the ceremony and sign your marriage certificate.
Hong Kong is a shopping haven and thanks to English being an official language, and Google not being blocked as it is in Mainland China, it’s easy to go online and find florists, hair and make-up artists and restaurants for a celebration meal. If time allows, you can even take advantage of the city’s reasonably priced tailors to run you up an extra special outfit for your Asia-inspired wedding!
There are also some wonderful hotels to stay at in Hong Kong, allowing you to combine your wedding with the perfect long weekend.
The marriage ceremony in Hong Kong has three legal components that must be witnessed by your two witnesses: the registrar’s reminder of the binding nature of the marriage contract; the couple’s vows, which must include legally required phrases, and the signing of the marriage certificate in duplicate by the bride, groom, the two witnesses, and the registrar.
The ceremony itself was pretty quick, with not a huge amount of pomp and ceremony. The whole thing was pretty relaxed and I’m sure you could add readings, personal vows and other things to make it a bit more personal. Franziska and Marco went for the simplest version, which ultimately ended with them as husband and wife, just as they hoped to be!
Hong Kong is a photographer’s dream with a multitude of locations for the perfect wedding shots. From tropical parks and ornamental gardens to bustling streets and towering skyscraper-backdrops there’s something for every stylish couple wishing to capture their wonderful wedding day! My boyfriend and I were wedding photographers for Marco and Franziska and managed to capture some great shots of the two of them. Although, man, I wouldn’t want to be an actual wedding photographer – it’s so much pressure!
We took the picture below by the tramlines alongside Western Market, Hong Kong’s oldest surviving market building, dating from 1858. I love the contrast of the red brick building with the streak of the blue tram. Marco and Franziska really stand out here too. The shot actually took us such a long time, as being inexperienced photographers we had to experiment with the exposure. But, the bride and groom wanted a shot like this so we eventually delivered something that I’m actually quite proud of!
As one of the party capitals of the world, Hong Kong has an abundance of amazing venues at which to celebrate your nuptials in style. Whether it’s sophisticated cocktails at one of the highest bars in the world or an elegant meal at one of the city’s many international-standard restaurants, you’re sure to find the perfect way to celebrate your big day.