THE wedding gown did its bit to mark the handover yesterday despite a planned ceremony falling foul of the weather. Eight models wearing handover-inspired wedding dresses struggled to keep make-up from streaming down their faces as rain poured on their parade from Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, to Causeway Bay. The parade showcased gowns designed for a competition being organised by the Wedding Expo at the Hong Kong International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kowloon Bay on June 20 to 22. A traditional Chinese bra offered the inspiration for the bodice of one of the gowns which was embroidered with a gold dragon. On another dress, the year 1997 was emblazoned in silver glitter, and fake bauhinia flowers wound their way across the back of a third. Only one designer chose gold and, in doing so, broke from the mould of traditional Western white. Hong Kong brides continue to save Chinese red dresses for the banquet afterwards. Expo organisers said there had been a marked increase in the number of couples saying 'I do', as they rushed to wed under the seal of a British marriage certificate. About 40,000 people exchange vows in the territory every year. Spokesman June Yip Yuk-ping said she believed some couples saw the British certificate as more definitive than the new certificates to be issued from July - although others were waiting for the handover 'because they're proud to get married under Chinese rule'. 'Wedding shops say orders are definitely coming in earlier,' she said.