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Lucky number eight
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Zhang Hongnan and Pang Yang will have good reason to celebrate Aug 8 next year - as the first anniversary of their wedding.

The two Beijing-based postgraduates have been granted permission to reserve a marriage registration for the special day, which coincides with the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Games and is considered an auspicious date as the figure eight signifies good fortune in Chinese culture.

"We've been planning this for a long time, as it is such a meaningful and auspicious day," said Pang, the 25-year-old bride-to-be.

"Our only concern is that too many couples share the same wish as us and we heard rumors that the marriage registration office would not open that day."

To ease such fears, Beijing's Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau announced that, from June 20 to August 5, couples could reserve their marriage registration by going to the local marriage registration office in person.

Meanwhile, online reservations will also be available from July 7. Some 60 to 80 reservations can be accepted every day, three times more than usual.

Couples can simplify matters by handing in all the relevant documents in advance, thus cutting the registration time on the day to only a few minutes, according to an official at the bureau.

"It is very convenient for us, especially the online service, and we don't need to worry about long queues," said Zhang Hongnan, Pang's fianc.

The measure follows Beijing's earlier promise that it would do its best to accommodate couples who were planning to tie their marriages to the Olympics. It refuted rumors that the marriage registration offices would close on the opening day of the Games.

(China Daily June 16, 2008)

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