Salad Days for the Mail-Order Bride Business

Cristen Conger

The recession has boosted the mail-order bride business. (Greg Ceo/Getty Images)

Long ago on Stuff Mom Never Told You, Molly and I discussed whether mail-order brides still exist. The short answer is yes, services matching men with international women (often from Eastern Europe) certainly still exist. And according to a recent BusinessWeek story, the mail-order bride business has benefited from the recession.

John Adams, the co-founder of Phoenix-based A Foreign Affair, which sends clients to Eastern European mixers a la Bravo's "Millionaire Matchmaker," told BusinessWeek: "Men evaluate their lives a little more closely when the economy becomes more difficult. They look at what's really important to them and try to find that one person they want to spend the rest of their lives with."

While these services cost thousands, the men can also see it as a long-term cost savings. Due to tighter recession-era finances, many clients "don't have the money to go out on dates and go on weekends to Vegas and Atlantic City. They want someone to take care of them," said Joseph Weiner, founder of Hand-in-Hand matchmaking agency, who also described $2,000 brides as "a bargain."

After the mail-order bride podcast aired, Molly and I received an e-mail from a listener who had enlisted help from an international matchmaker. He felt wrongly stereotyped as a creep, whereas he had reached a point in his life when more traditional dating was no longer appealing. And I'd agree with lovelorn listener that not all the men who have used "mail-order" services are out to find a servant wife for a basement bargain price.

In fact, it isn't bride-seekers as much as the actual mail-order services that raise red flags. BusinessWeek also reports that some will "post fake profiles, ratchet up prices for translation, and sometimes impersonate women to ask for money." Either way you cut it, the mail-order bride industry seems like a sketchy proposition for everyone involved.

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