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     Volume 7 Issue 17 | April 25, 2008 |

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Are you Game for a Wedding?

The number 8 is considered lucky by the Chinese, thus, it's no surprise that there is a rush to get married on Augst 8, when the Beijing Olympics opens. It is an auspicious date, but is it a practical date to get hitched?

August 8, 2008 is more than just a date.
For one, it marks the day of the opening ceremony for the highly anticipated Beijing Olympics.
It is also considered a lucky day for marriage. For Chinese couples looking to tie the knot, the combination of eights adds up to a potentially successful union.

The Chinese love the number 8 (ba) because it sounds like the word for wealth and fortune (fa). August 8, which falls on a Friday this year, is 'extra special' because of the 'three 8s' in the date with many couples choosing to get married on the said date hoping some of the luck would rub off on them.

“The Olympic year is meaningful to all of us,” He Lina, secretary-general of the Shanghai Wedding Celebration Association, said. “According to our Chinese tradition, eight is an auspicious number, good for weddings.”

From all indications, the year 2008 wil be China's banner year not only because of its first-ever Olympics, but that it will likely set a new record in the number of weddings.

The expected rush of couples wanting to get married specifically on Aug 8 has prompted the Beijing municipal civil affairs bureau to clarify rumours that the office would be closed on that date.

“Couples are free to tie the knot on any weekday, so why not on Aug 8?” bureau spokesman Guo Xusheng said in an earlier interview. But Guo added that couples should apply way in advance.

In Beijing alone, many hotels are already booked with wedding reservations for the entire year.

Chen Yachun of Beijing Huangyuan Hotel said: “We started to take wedding reservations for 2008 in July of last year. In only a short time we became fully booked up. We have no more days left until November.”

Last year, 3,390 couples in China tied the knot on the lucky date, and some of them had to wait outside the marriage registration office for one entire night.

Some wedding planners, however, have advised couples not to hold wedding ceremonies on that day or hold it away from major cities where it's less crowded and cheaper.

“The government will impose rules to smoothen the flow of traffic during the Games, which could make transportation unpredictable. So you shouldn't take too many risks on your wedding day,” said online wedding planner Lu Ke.

Zhang Wanhong from China Wedding Culture Society said people want to get married this year as it coincides with the Olympics. “This is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. A recent survey says there may be twice as many people getting married in 2008 than the year before.”

On the other hand, those newlyweds who chose to get married ahead of the Olympics still want to have a memento of the Games by choosing to have their wedding pictures taken in some of the venues.

Popular choices are the National Stadium and the National Aquatics Centre, also known as the Bird's Nest and Water Cube, respectively.

Han Lichuan, a bridegroom, was quoted in a report as saying that he and his bride want their wedding pictures to be related to the Olympics. They took a photo near the Bird's Nest recently.

A studio taking Han's pictures said a set of Olympic-themed wedding pictures costs 2,008 yuan (US$290).

But the Beijing Organising Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad has issued a warning that no one has the right to use the image of the Bird's Nest or Water Cube for commercial purposes, as it infringes on intellectual property rights.

Meanwhile, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang has become so popular that everyone wants to marry him.

“There has been a popular saying among residents in Lausanne in recent years if you will marry, then marry Liu Xiang,” Tanja Dubas, marketing manager of the Lausanne Tourism and Convention Bureau, in Switzerland was quoted by Chengdu Evening News as saying.

The Olympic gold medalist became famous due to an eight-month exhibition covering the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games at the city's Olympic Museum.

Liu Xiang set a 110m hurdling world record of 12.88 seconds at the Super Grand Prix in Lausanne on July 11, 2006. Since local residents are so interested in the Chinese hurdler, the museum exhibition displays many photographs recording Liu's record-breaking moment, plus the vests and shorts he wore.

-Asian News network Magazine, China Daily, Beijing/ Shanghai

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