Thursday, August 7, 2008

Couples marrying Friday to clinch luck of triple 8

NEW YORK - THOUSANDS of couples are heading down the aisle on Friday, hoping the date Aug 8, 2008, brings them luck and an easy to remember anniversary date.

The number eight has long been considered fortuitous in China, where people pay extra to have it in phone numbers and licence plates - and the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympic Games falls on Aug 8.

'We chose the date because eight has always been our lucky number,' said upcoming bride Denise Becker, 26, a middle school teacher in East Northport, New York.

She and her fiance always found themselves in Seat 8, Row 8, at movie theatres with eight screens. She started planning her wedding 1 1/2 years ago and was surprised that venues were booked.

Another 8-8-08 bride, Stacy Ebert, 34, of Surprise, Arizona, has a long relationship with the number.

'I like the way it looks, that it's continuous, said Mr Ebert, a cashier at a retail store. 'We waited until 2008 because I like eight. Otherwise we would have gotten married earlier.'

In China, the pronunciation of the word eight sounds like the phrase for great fortune, said Mr Li Han Chia, an instructor of Chinese at the University of Mississippi. A reported record 9,000 Chinese couples plan to tie the knot that day.

In the United States, the wedding and gift registry site has seen a 213 per cent increase in weddings for Aug 8, 2008, compared with the same Friday last year on Aug 10, said Mr Summer Krecke, the deputy editor.

The Rev Clint Hufft, who married Trista and Ryan (The Bachelorette), said he has received more wedding requests for 8-8-08 than any other day of the year by far.

Many marrying couples are carrying eight even further with eight-course dinners, eight bridesmaids, 8.08 pm first dances.

Along with great fortune, the number eight is the atomic number for oxygen. There are eight days of Hanukkah. The symbol for infinity takes on the shape of eight, and there are eight planets (Pluto was demoted).

Mr Becker plans to wear an infinity necklace with her wedding dress.

Numerologist Glynis McCants advises people to avoid confrontations on Friday (if you trace the number 8, you go around and around). She encourages people to light a white candle and reflect on financial prosperity because eight in numerology promotes financial security.

Even so, the triple-eight wedding date doesn't appear to be as popular in the United States as Mr 7-7-07, one of the busiest for weddings last year, said Sally Kilbridge, deputy editor of Brides magazine. It helped that it fell on a Saturday, though Fridays are gaining popularity for weddings, she said.

Triple 7s are also a winning combination on slot machines. There are seven days in the week, seven wonders of the world, seven continents, and of course, the seven deadly sins. There are also numerous references to seven in religion, such as the seven days of creation and baby Buddha's seven steps.

No matter, Mr Jai Daggett, 36, who works for a marketing firm in Houston, is getting hitched on Aug 8. He and his fiancee nixed Magic 8 Balls as table centerpieces, but their wedding will begin at 8.

'8-8-08 I'll never forget,' Mr Daggett said. -- AP

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