You know that cute, divorced-hedgefunder-publicist couple who claim they met at City Bakery fighting over the last pretzel croissant? Yeah. No. There’s a decent chance they actually met through a matchmaker. There are slews of them out there right now, swooping up relationship-ready clients who can’t stand another swipe right and are dying for a real-live date. These modern-day yentas — some are hipsters, some are WASPs, all are surrogate big sisters — specialize in everyone from the rich and famous, to the freaks and geeks, to, simply, regular riders on the F train. We spoke to five of our favorites for the scoop on how it all works.
You are: a fun-loving social butterfly, man or woman (but most clients are men), looking to settle down
You will pay: a range, from $1,000 for an “online dating rehab,” to $17,500, to $60,000 for full-service searching
How it works: Through sheer diligence. Lori Zaslow, co-founder, explains, “Our typical client already has a great dating life; he’s made ‘meeting the one’ a priority. They hire us as a luxury. We’re their sisters. We’re their best friends. The girls we introduce them to are happy and positive … pure sunshine. We plan the entire date. We love wine bars, no dinner … there’s no reason to stay more an hour, even if it’s the best night of your life. We hound them until we get feedback. If it doesn’t work, we refine. Maybe it turns out they can’t stand Long Island girls; maybe they’ve decided religion doesn’t matter? We’ll get it right. We always do. There are hundreds of babies on this planet because of us.”
You are: Male, female, gay, straight, poly; age 18 to 72
You will pay: $599 per month for two introductions; clients can renew on a month-to-month basis.
How it works: By making things just fun. E. Jean Carroll, co-founder, says, “People are starved to death on Tinder — getting dick picks and never going on dates! We are sending people out kayaking, on hikes, scavenger hunts … we don’t send people to sit on their ass in a wine bar! A woman looks most beautiful when she’s moving; a man looks elegant when you can see his shoulders in action. Most of our matchmakers are Ivy League graduates, very creative and dramatic, with wide networks of friends; there are 25 all together. You need to bang two people together, let those pupils dilate, and see what happens! One of my favorite clients is dying for kids, rollin’ in it, and was having a hard time letting go of an ex! I set him up with a lingerie model and said, ‘Take her to the Boom Boom Room and have some fun already!’ Our clients are very busy people who don’t have time to slog through profiles, who can’t be seen on a dating site, and who love meeting the most delicious people in New York. We’ve got Tinder and OKCupid beat to hell.”
Greta Tufvesson and Nikki Lewis’s the Bevy
You are: A rich man looking for “the One”
You will pay: Starts at $25,000 for men, free for women
How it works: By changing clients’ expectations. Greta Tufvesson, co-founder, says, “A lot of our guys have this checklist: She needs to be Ivy-educated, with parents who are still married, extremely athletic, a certain age, a certain religion, drop-dead gorgeous, with a killer career. We have tons of women who fit that mold, but whenever we can convince those guys to step out of their comfort zone, they usually call us gushing, ‘Wow. That was so refreshing!’ Many of our clients, especially the ones who are divorced, are often surprised by what excites them. They start with a fantasy, or something they saw in a movie and then they get introduced to a woman who is not only beautiful — because they’re all beautiful — but smart, engaging, kind, and grounded — and they learn something new about themselves and about matters of the heart. Self-discovery is sexier than any date.”
Amy Van Doren’s Modern Love Club
You are: An artist or creative professional — and maybe a bit of an outlier.
You will pay: $150 for a consult; $15,000 or more for six months of matchmaking services
How it works: By curating the creatives. Amy Van Doran, founder, says, “We work with fashion designers, doctors, architects, psychiatrists, chefs, artists, technologists, musicians, actors, etc. We interview every person for an hour … with a focus on essence. I work with a very small, and selective group of brilliant women AND men who are based in New York. Straight, gay, queer, and everything in between. I think of myself as less of a matchmaker, but rather, a gallerist curating the social interactions and love lives of the most interesting New Yorkers I have had the pleasure of crossing paths with throughout the years. I try to interview nine people a day. Even if I can’t take you as a client (I only take on 18 clients at a time), I hope to offer a place where anybody can be heard, and at least try to give some useful feedback, and point a person in the right direction. I have always had a soft spot for the underdog, the misfit, and the outlier.”
Train Spottings by the “Love Conductor”
You are: Someone with a MetroCard (clientele is half men, half women)
You will pay: Varies based on individuals but starts around $1,500
How it works: By scouring trains for single commuters. Erika Christensen, founder, says, “We are still mainly recruiting on the subway. Right now, I’m looking for good men! We can’t promise we’ll find clients a spouse, we can promise that we’re going to introduce them to awesome people in person. We’ll find someone who matches our clients’ needs looks-wise on the subway, then we vet the person. If they’re great, we set up the entire date, and introduce them over email — but both are BCC’ed. It’s the only thing I’m really, really strict about … legit blind dates. It keeps it fun! Train Spottings appeal to a quirkier person. We’ve definitely had bankers and lawyers … but more like, puppet-makers, and right now we have a chocolatier and he’s maybe my favorite client ever. Unless they kill puppies for a living, I’m not going to take their job that much into account. We charge based on how hard it will be to match you. Money is not the thing. What some of these matchmakers charge, it makes my eyes bleed.”