x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

11/11/11 the day when one + one = one

Call it marriage by numbers. For months, people have been queuing up to ensure they can be wed - or even have babies - on a unique date.

Special day: Lee Hedger and Stephanie Cutler have waited 20 months to get married on this unique date.
Special day: Lee Hedger and Stephanie Cutler have waited 20 months to get married on this unique date.

DUBAI // Lee Hedger and Stephanie Cutler been waiting a year and seven months for the calendar to roll over to 11/11/11.

When Mr Hedger, 36, proposed to Ms Cutler in April last year he hoped she would say yes and that they could be wed on 11/11/11, as "she was the one".

His wishes were granted with a "yes" and a confirmed booking. They will marry today at Madinat Jumeirah.

"And these were the only decisions he was allowed to make," said his bride-to-be.

But booking a venue for the day was not easy. The British couple were far from alone in wanting to wed on such an auspicious date.

Pietra de Andrade, the director of weddings and special events at Madinat Jumeirah, the Arabian resort in Dubai, said it had seven weddings booked for today, up from one or two on a normal Friday. And those weddings were booked six months ago.

But the opportunity was too good to miss, said Ms Cutler. "Plus, this way Lee will never ever forget our wedding anniversary."

At the other end of Dubai, Asfiya Zeeshan Shaikh, a Canadian of Pakistani origin, will be getting ready today for the climax of her week-long celebration, a traditional mughal-inspired wedding at Atlantis, The Palm.

"The date was picked by my mother-in-law," Ms Shaikh said, hinting that there had been no room for argument. "I am absolutely excited, over the moon actually. It is a great, unique day."

And with a "unique" date, Atlantis was just the place needed to celebrate it.

"Atlantis is Atlantis," Ms Shaikh said. "It is a beautiful hotel, the view is just amazing and the theme goes with my coral theme."

They will be joined on their special day by some 350 guests from all over the world.

"I have spent most of [yesterday] getting people from the airport, from Spain, Hong Kong, Canada, everywhere," Ms Shaikh said.

The day has also proven popular with Emiratis. Sabha Al Shamsi, the manager of the Al Ain wedding services provider Qasr Al Rowda, said it was not only a unique date but also fell during the 40-day countdown to UAEs 40th birthday.

"Don't talk to me about 11/11/11, we are dead busy," she said. "Everyone wants to celebrate on that day, either a wedding or an engagement or a marriage registry party."

Ms Al Shamsi will manage eight parties tonight, up from the usual two or three.

"Because the weddings are for some VIPs they have asked to also have National Day decoration as a theme for the wedding," she said. "It is very important for Emiratis to show their patriotism in these special days."

Dr Ahmad Alomosh, the chair of the department of sociology at University of Sharjah, said the repeated numbers had an "optimistic value" shared by all nationalities.

"People like these dates that don't happen very often because they resemble luck and give people optimism that good things will happen," Dr Alomosh said.

"This is something global; all human beings are optimistic for this date. Numbers have values and number one is considered to be of high value to people, being the beginning of numbers."

Many pregnant women at or near their due dates have even tried to schedule their delivery for today.

Dr Bashar Abdo, from Al Noor Hospital, said he had two caesarean sections scheduled.

"In my three years at Al Noor this is one of the first times I see people picking the day they want to give birth," Dr Abdo said.

"Of course only if they are over 39 weeks pregnant and fit certain criteria, they can be scheduled for Caesarean."

Dr Magi Blott, a consultant gynaecologist at the Corniche Hospital, said much the same had happened on September 9, 2009.

"People certainly like memorable dates," Dr Blott said.

osalem@thenational.ae