Thursday, June 4, 2009

creepy marriage service

At the fall convention of the American Society of Travel agents in Las Vegas, a company that markets mail-order brides got the boot.

According to Travel Weekly, a Phoenix-based marriage agency specializing in 'international introductions, matching prospective brides from such countries as Russia, the Philippines, and Colombia with any groom willing to pay a price."

Before the staff of AFA was escorted off the premises, a bride and groom in full wedding regalia, along with two company representatives, greeted travel agents. And brochures for the Web site Love me com were distributed.

Its tours for groom wannabees, which the firm was hoping to get travel agents to push, start at $3,250 and include airfare from New York's Kennedy Airport, lodging, and socials where men and women meet.

Mail-Order Brides in the Digital Age

According to a Time magazine article, there are profiles of 6,500 women from 49 countries on the site, which features links to "European Women," "Asian Women," "Russian Women," and "European Women."

"Call the woman of your dreams... directly in her home"... for $360 an hour

I clicked on "Bulgaria," which offered five potential brides, complete with headshot, age, weight and height, eye and hair color, marital status, religion, education, job, sports, hobbies, and number of children and pets.

If you "like" her, Love me com conveniently provides a clickable "Add (name of woman) to my order." From there, you can "call the woman of your dreams... directly in her home" for "only $5.99 a minute." (That would be $359.40 an hour. Email would be a lot cheaper.)

The site also offers romance tours that promise:

"Not only will you enjoy two relaxing weeks in one of the worlds (sic) most beautiful and romantic cities, you will arrive with the objective of meeting and courting some of the most beautiful and sincere women in the world whose desires are the same as yours."

Get Real

People meet their love mates in any number of strange and wonderful ways. To me, though -- and I'm certainly not the first to say this -- a service like this is downright creepy.

Travel is certainly a good way to meet other people and even make romantic connections. But to me, this kind of business sells disappointment and heartbreak. A photo is not always as revealing as it appears, and at a social all parties are on their best behavior. So much is at stake for both that I can only imagine how much truth about participants' lives is concealed in a brief meeting.

Marriage is challenging enough between a couple who take the time to get to know one another. And love is something that grows through trust and experience. You can't just click and have it come to you.