Mass 12/12/12 weddings in Hong Kong, Singapore, China

Thousands of couples in Hong Kong, mainland China and Singapore flocked Wednesday to tie the knot on 12/12/12, seeking good fortune for marriages begun on the century's last repeating date.

Authorities in Hong Kong and Singapore respectively said 696 and 540 couples were scheduled to attend marriage registries, continuing a trend which has seen couples flocking to marry on 11/11/11 and 10/10/10 in both cities.

The figure is a near-fourfold increase compared to the daily average in the self-governing Chinese city of Hong Kong and about an eightfold spike for non-Muslim weddings in Singapore, which is three-quarters ethnic Chinese.

Couples also queued to marry in many mainland Chinese cities, on the basis that 12/12/12 sounded like "Will love/will love/will love" in Chinese, the official news agency Xinhua reported.

The atmosphere was abuzz with hundreds of people crowding one of Hong Kong's five marriage registries, taking photos of brides and grooms in full wedding regalia as they congratulated the newlyweds.

"Today's date is very special and we can get married before doomsday as well," joked 34-year-old groom Raymond Ip.

Some doomsayers believe December 21 could be the date the world ends.

"There won't be a 13/13/13," Ip said, adding that he had booked the day half-a-year in advance to secure a spot.

Groom Terance Fung, 29, agreed. "Today is the last day of the century with the same date numbers, so it is quite special," he said.

In Singapore, hundreds of couples and family members trooped in batches to the marriage registry despite pouring rain.

12/12/12 was, however, a less popular day to tie the knot than previous sequential dates.

Hong Kong saw 1,002 weddings on November 11, 2011, which signified "Eternal love", and 859 weddings on October 10, 2010 which represented "Perfection".

Singapore had 553 and 724 marriages respectively on the same dates. The all-time high for a single day there was on February 14, 1995, when 1,082 couples were married because the western and Chinese Valentine's Day coincided.

Extra staff were deployed at the marriage registry at Changchun, in China's northeastern province of Jilin, where 2,000 couples were expected.

But the office director Wang Zhe played down the significance of so-called lucky dates.

"Every day is a lucky day to get married and it will be the most unforgettable day of their lives," Wang was quoted as saying.