Ballpark Estimate: $1,000 to $15,000 for all of the related costs
If you want to get married but have given up on discovering the woman of your dreams through some of the traditional methods like being introduced by friends or meeting at a singles bar, you may want to broaden the parameters of your search to include more creative avenues. How far you are willing to go, though, may depend on your preferences and your goals. For some men, this can include looking to other countries via the Internet to find a bride. While this may sound like a rather unconventional (and also costly) approach, since it involves using an international marriage service to bring together two complete strangers from different ends of the world to marry, it can also be a legitimate way to find your soul mate.
The Concept of Mail-Order Brides
There are a host of online services available today that help men to find a foreign woman who is interested in marrying someone from the United States. These women, who are commonly called mail-order brides, traditionally come from a variety of developing countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Colombia, Venezuela and Thailand. Often, the women live in poor conditions and are eager for a chance for a better life here. In addition, many of the women live in areas where there are few single men, posing a challenge for them to find someone local to marry if they stay.
For the American men who want to meet these women, their motivation is often simple. Some of them have been married before and disillusioned, while others are bachelors hoping to try their hand at marriage. In addition, some men are also interested in the fact that the foreign women may be more willing to stay home and keep house for them than a typical American-bred women who might have higher career goals and demands. Regardless of what drives the men, though, the bottom line for them is usually that this concept provides an “easy,” (although not inexpensive) way to connect them to women who are ready and available to mate with them.
How It Works
The way that mail-order bride services operate can vary a great deal, depending on where they are located, who owns them and some of their specific details, but here is a basic overview of how the process can occur.
Usually, a woman applies to be listed on a site (or sometimes on multiple sites, which can increase her chance of being chosen by a man) and answers a series of detailed questions, which often touch on her physical description, family background, education, work experience, interests and hobbies and in some cases, must even provide character references. The woman may also be asked to describe her idea man and what she is looking for. One perspective mail-order bride who used a popular online site said it took about half an hour to enter her profile online. She was also asked to post her photo, which was said to greatly increase her chances of receiving correspondence by an interested man. There is usually no cost for women to sign up with such a service.
Finding Your Match
For a man who is interested in seeking a foreign wife, there are numerous options out there. Often the best place to start is by narrowing in on the nationality you desire. Most mail-order bride services specialize in a region or country, so this will help you focus in your search and determine what agency or service you want to use. You can find lots of choices by doing a search online and reading about the various costs and what you get for your money. An important note is to always be sure to read the reviews and make sure any company is reliable before you fork over any membership fees. (This is key, since in addition to the legitimate companies that exist, there are also many scams out there looking to take your money and run so you want to protect yourself as much as you can.)
Once a man chooses a site, he can browse the photos and profiles and select a woman (or several women) he likes and purchases her email address from the site to write to her. Experts say that this is an important investment, since you need to correspond to see if you are a good match. Keep in mind that many men may be pursuing the same very attractive women, so you may have to try for several choices.
If you and a woman communicate back and forth and decide you want to move your relationship forward, the next step is to meet. This is the tricky part. Some sources even say finding the bride is easy but bringing her to you is when the work begins. This is because it is very difficult for a single woman from a less developed country to get approved for a Tourist Visa to visit the United States. Therefore, usually she will need to be engaged to in order to get a Fiancé Visa. For this status, though, you are required to have already met, so you will need to plan a trip to meet the woman in her country of origin before you can move forward with your plans. Or, you can even marry overseas when you visit her, and then begin the complicated process of applying for a Petition for an Alien Relative and an Immigrant VISA so she can come live with you in the U.S.
What It Costs
Keep in mind that when you “order” a mail order bride, there are a variety of costs that will be associated with this process. Of course, some of the specifics vary, depending on what type of introduction/marriage broker service you use and what country you select. But regardless of these variations, some of the steps will be similar. For instance, you will need to join a service (which may be a one-time price, or could also include ongoing monthly fees in addition to an initial investment), or at least order address so you can correspond with your intended, often via the Internet and also sometimes by letter. You might also want to call the woman on the phone (likely using a translator, since she may not speak English) and send gifts. In addition, you will probably want to go visit her and formalize your arrangements for her to come to the Unites States. Then there is also the cost of her VISA and her travel expenses to relocate here and also the cost of getting married and/or having a wedding. In addition, some services offer a “romance tour” that brings American men to less developed countries to attend organized socials where they can meet a number of available women in one place.
All of these expenses can really add up. One author who wrote an article about mail-order brides estimated all of these costs can run between a thousand or less on the low end, to as high as $15,000 when you add them all up. But some of the men who use this method to find women they can grow old with feel the investment is well worth it in the end.
To get an idea of how some of the various set costs may play out, here is a breakdown of a few of the basics.
- Purchasing women’s addresses: from $10 to $15 each (but the price goes down the more you buy at once)
- Sending letters: $5.00 each.
- Phone call translation: $5.95 per minute.
- Membership with an online service: from $80 to $650
- Catalogue of available women: $120
- Romance tour: $4,000 to $7,500 including airfare and accommodations
- Airfare: $500 to $1,000 or more each trip, depending on the country
While you may like the idea of skipping over the work of having to meet and date a woman and prefer to just sit at your computer and “order” a wife, you may also wonder if such an alternative can really work. Can you actually order a bride online in much the same way you select a pair of slippers or a book? It is an unconventional idea and probably will not surprise you to know that the concept has been the topic of much controversy over the years. After all, unlike more typical American Internet dating services, which facilitate introductions between people in the hopes that a relationship will naturally grow between two of them over time, mail-order bride services are geared to help two strangers meet and marry, skipping over many of the middle steps that usually come along the way. This leaves much room for things to go awry. For instance, some women use this as a way to gain entry into the United States, and then leave their husbands once they have received their green cards. In addition, some men who use this method want a submissive wife they can “mold.” When the woman doesn’t live up to his expectations, in some cases this can result in abuse. In fact, statistics have shown that there is a higher rate of domestic violence among mail-order brides than their American counterparts.
This disturbing finding has recently resulted in legislation designed to protect foreign women who come into the U.S. against acts of violence by their husbands. This law requires men using an international marriage broker or service to complete information on his criminal and marital background and be checked to be sure he isn’t listed in the National Sex Offenders Public Registry database.
Finally, if you decide to seek a bride from overseas, be aware that there are numerous scams that exist to take your money. Some services will continually ask you for money for your intended bride. When the money runs out, the correspondence usually ends. Therefore, if you feel that the agency or the individual is continually asking for money from you, proceed with your eyes open. You can also do a search online to find some of the red flags that may signal you are being set up.
Not Just for Women
With all of this in mind, if the idea appeals to you, it may just be worth checking out some of the available mail-order brides and seeing if any of them seems like a good fit. And keep in mind that you don’t have to be the initiator, since is not only women who can sign up to be a mail-order bride. Men can also do something similar. There are several websites out there that offer mail-order husbands, too.