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Courting couples keen to say 'they do' on auspicious date
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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 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."

That specific date aside, 2008 itself is considered by Chinese a good year to get hitched.

In Shanghai alone, nearly 120,000 young couples have so for decided to marry next year, some 30 percent more than this year, He said.

Shanghai's big hotels are also braced for an expected lift in business.

"Considered the 'metal year' in the Chinese lunar calendar, next year is good for weddings. A lot of couples want to hold ceremonies in our hotel," Angel Mao, a representative for Shangri-la, Shanghai, said.

Huang Meizi, a manager of the Guangzhou-based Dongfang Hotel in southern China, said the hotel had so far received three wedding banquet bookings for August 8.

Liu Shiyan, from the Liwan district marriage registration center in Guangzhou said two other dates were also popular among couples.

"Besides August 8, other days such as November 11 and January 11 are regarded good ones for marriage.

"We have received many bookings since the online booking service opened last month," Liu said.

But not everyone believes in number superstition, or the claim the Olympics has something to do with the expected marriage surge.

"A marriage surge stimulated by the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games sounds groundless," Shi Kangning, secretary-general of the Committee of Matchmaking Service Industries under the China Association of Social Workers, told China Daily.

"The wedding surge of 2008 is a chain reaction of the birth surge in the 1980s, because next year, about 280 million youngsters in China will have reached the age of getting married."

Shi said the wedding ceremony market would "not be too hot" from June to October as it would be hard for many couples to secure bookings in hotels with a rating of three stars and over.

The hotels will be full because of the Olympic Games, Shi said.

"Matchmaking companies are not allowed to organize collective weddings in the name of Olympic Games," Shi said.

The manager of the Beijing Matchmaking website Zhang Keqin told China Daily the cost of wedding ceremonies will increase next year, but declined to release his 2008 cost list.

Zhang said prices will be negotiated with clients.

(China Daily November 27, 2007)

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