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20,000 couples may tie knot on October 1

(Global Times)

14:14, September 28, 2011

Shanghai marriage registration authorities on Tuesday assured anxious lovebirds that staff would be able to handle the 20,000 couples expected to queue up on Saturday – October 1 – a traditionally auspicious wedding date – to make their union official in the month considered one of the most propitious times of the year.

The city's 20 registration offices will have extra volunteers on hand and regular operating hours (8:30 am to 4:30 pm) could be extended for up to five hours on the first day of the National Day holiday, if necessary, to cope with the predicted demand – double that of last year, according to Zhou Jixiang, director of marriage registration for the Shanghai Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau.

"We're confident that we'll be able to get everyone registered on Saturday," he told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Zhou said that authorities are no longer considering couples for prearranged registration times this year, despite the assumption that twice as many couples will register their marriage on October 1, a date regarded as shi quan shi mei in Chinese, meaning "perfect."

An online registration system created last year allows selected couples to prearrange times for registration ahead of popular wedding dates, such as Saturday – essentially giving them the right to skip lengthy queues on these days.

With the help of the online service last year, each office was able to register 500 couples on October 1, said Zhou.

"But, we can't open the service up to more people at this late hour because it will bring even greater inconveniences to the thousands of non-registered couples who are planning to register the old-fashioned way on Saturday, by waiting in line for their turn," he said.

Zhou said that the increase in couples expected this year is mainly the result of a new trend: more couples than ever before want their marriage legalized on the same day of their actual wedding.

He added that because marriage registration offices close for the remainder of the week-long holiday, couples decide to tough out the queues to secure the best auspicious date of the month, especially considering that the following six days of the month favored by Chinese couples are off limits for registration.

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