This site has been getting quite a few hits lately, particularly the post on How to register a marriage between a Nepali and a foreigner. That post was about something that we did AFTER the wedding. But prior to that, we had to get married first. And it took countless lengthy discussions for us to arrive at a decision on where and how to get married. I enumerate them here, in the hopes that others will find it useful in their own decision-making process. Here are the things that we had to consider, in no particular order:
What’s important to you in a union. Some people see marriage primarily as a commitment between two people, and everything else is just fluff. So for them, elopement is an option. They just get away to get married, it doesn’t matter if there’s anyone else present, or if there’s a reception after. For others, the ceremony is important, whether as a religious or a cultural rite. If that doesn’t matter as much to you, you can have a civil wedding. You go to the courthouse or city hall, sign some papers, and be done with it. If you think marriage is a union between two communities, then you would want your family and friends to be there. If the celebration aspect is important to you, then you’ll want a big fun party for your reception. You get the idea. What’s important to you will factor greatly into your decision.
Family. This is related to the first point because sometimes your parents will want to do things differently. Especially when you’re dealing with two different cultures, something’s got to give. Someone has told to me that they didn’t want a big wedding but that’s what their parents wanted so they gave in. Another aspect that involves family is the location of the wedding, and the consequence of that choice. Some people have ceremonies in both countries. Others just pick one country and have people fly over. Either way, some people who are dear to you may not be able to attend. You just have to deal with that.
Time. This is a very important consideration if you’re flying in from another country and only have a limited amount of time to get things done. This is related to….
Process. Different countries have different requirements and different processes. In the Philippines, you need to get a marriage license before you can get married. In Nepal, you don’t need that license. So that was one step, with its own lengthy process and its own long list of requirements, that we could potentially skip by not getting married in the Philippines. You have to find out, preferably in advance, how long the entire process would take and how complicated it is so that you won’t end up with a half-done process. In marriage registration, half-done is NOT DONE. Which brings us to…
Legality. Religious rites still have to be registered with the state. It is very important for people from different countries to have a marriage that holds up in court. You will need it for visa applications, insurance claims, etc. So whether you get married in a church or a temple, make sure that you sign papers, just as you would if you got married in court.
Timing. This is not crucial in all cases but in the Nepali culture, it is important that you get married on auspicious dates in the calendar.
Cost. Weddings usually do not come cheap. Big traditional elaborate weddings even less so. Factoring in foreign exchange rates, you have to figure out what kind of wedding your budget would afford in Country A vs Country B.
Note: Whatever you decide in the end, make sure that your marriage is registered in both countries. I did not know this before (as I mentioned here), but it makes sense in hindsight.
Which one of these points played the largest role in your decision? Did I miss anything? Do you have other points that you think should be considered before deciding on a cross-cultural wedding?