Double happiness for 245 couples today

-- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
-- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

There are 245 couples booked to get married at the Registry of Marriages today, many more than the usual 35 to 50 couples who choose weekday ceremonies.

For many, today holds a promise of "double happiness" because Valentine's Day coincides with the 15th day of the Chinese New Year - chap goh meh - which is regarded as the Chinese Valentine's Day.

But for the mostly Chinese couples seeking an extra-special wedding date, March 1 is far more popular this year - there will be 455 marriages solemnised on that Saturday.

The reason is that 1-3-14 in Mandarin sounds like yi sheng yi shi, which means "a lifetime of love". And this auspicious- sounding date comes round only once a century.

The last time Valentine's Day coincided with chap goh meh - or yuan xiao jie - was in 1995, when a record 1,082 couples tied the knot.

"Couples select such popular and auspicious dates for their weddings as they believe it symbolises a good start to their marriage," said Registrar of Marriages Cynthia Chan.

Madam Phang Koei Hiong, one of the People's Association's most popular wedding solemnisers, will be busy today. She is officiating at five ceremonies in places such as Yew Tee Community Club, Royal Plaza on Scotts hotel in Orchard and Long Beach restaurant in Jurong.

She usually does one to two weddings on weekdays, and three to four on weekends.

She said some couples prefer March 1 because it would have been inconvenient to prepare for their wedding today, in the midst of Chinese New Year festivities.

Some wedding shops and coordinators might have been closed for the festive season, and it would have been hard for the couples and their families to get ready in the midst of Chinese New Year visiting, she said.

Sales executive Desmond Lim, 35, who is getting married to hotel manager Eilyn Joy Que, 27, on March 1, said they chose the date because Valentine's Day is a yearly affair and they would have to share their anniversary with many others.

Consultant Jessica Lim, 29, who is marrying aircraft engineer Joseph Chuah, 32, on the same day, said: "Compared to the common Valentine's Day, the meaning behind March 1 strikes me more deeply because marriage is really for a lifetime."

She picked the date three years ago. The couple knew they wanted to marry this year, when their home would be ready. While considering possible dates, she remembered the yi sheng yi shi saying from Chinese television shows and picked the date.

Hotels such as Marina Mandarin Singapore and The Ritz-Carlton said they are fully booked for March 1, with some couples picking the date as early as 2012. All four ballrooms at Marina Mandarin have been booked.

Ballroom dance teacher Terrence Low, 23, chose today to exchange vows with ballroom dancer Shanelle Gooi, 26, because the date had both his grandmothers' blessings.

Besides making them happy, he saw another advantage in getting married today.

"I can save money too - one present for two occasions, Valentine's Day and our anniversary," he quipped.

jantai@sph.com.sg

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