We're 12 hours ahead here in Beijing, so it's already 8/08/08, the so-called "lucky" day for the start of the Olympic opening ceremonies -- and wedding ceremonies. Dozens of couples took advantage of special just-after-midnight opening times at some marriage bureaus to be the first to receive the 8/08/08 seals placed on their marriage forms.
At the Chaoyang District marriage registration department, the first couple to get married was Jie Yu, 24, and her new husband, Chao Chen, 24, two longtime Beijingers who fell in love in middle school.
"We're number 1!" the groom said in Chinese around 12:25 a.m. when emerging with his new wife from the office. Chen, a mechanic, came with his best friend, who served as a witness.
There was a steady stream of couples coming to marry, though never a long line. By 12:45, about two dozen couples were officially married. The couples who came early this morning were dressed fairly casually because this was a civil ceremony, to be followed perhaps months later by a wedding bash. Yu and Chen said they plan a party at a hotel, with Yu in a red traditional Chinese wedding gown. Many couples said it would have been impossible to hold the party on the same day as the marriage registration given all the activity and excitement around the Olympics. Chinese authorities predict about 15,000 couples will marry on this day in Beijing.
Why choose 8/08/08 (a traditional Chinese number for prosperity) to marry?
Yu, a driving instructor, replied, "This is the happiest day for us, and the happiest day for the country."