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The Plain Truth about the Mail Order Bride Industry

Despite the sophistication that the Internet has brought to mail order bride dating, the perception of the mail order bride business is still confused with the century old practice of “buying” a mail order bride sight unseen from a catalog. Therefore the phrase “mail order brides” carries a stigma that robs mail order brides of their dignity and the mail order bride industry of some of its credibility. Also, the former practice of printing mail order catalogs of marriage-minded women continues to cast a shadow on the legitimacy of the modern mail order bride business.

A short history of the mail order bride catalog industry

The mail order bride catalogs of today bear little resemblance to their precursors of old. The practice of searching for a bride by post started among early settlers in the New World who, troubled by the lack of eligible women in their new settlement, would write back to their homeland in the hope of securing a wife. Early Japanese and other Asian immigrants sought the help of relatives or matchmakers back home in their search for Asian brides. The choice of Asian bride was sometimes based on photos and a few letters exchanged between the bride and the man, thus giving birth to the term “picture brides.”

Origin of the term “mail order brides”

It is easy to see why the mail order bride catalog business gets a bad rap. The phrase “mail order brides” is a gross misrepresentation of the actual process that goes into searching for brides by mail. A mail order bride is not something that is ordered through a catalog and airmailed to the paying customer. The misleading mail order bride misnomer originated from mail order bride agencies’ practice of printing and distributing by mail catalogs of foreign women seeking a suitable husband from the west. Based on published photos and profiles, the men would then choose which mail order brides they wished to correspond with. The mail order bride agency furnishes the interested men with the information necessary to initiate correspondence. In some cases, a mail order bride catalog went a step further by arranging the actual meeting between the man and the prospective mail order bride.

The mail order bride agency as matchmaker

In effect, the mail order bride catalog assumes the role of matchmaker in the bride search process. For a certain fee, a mail order bride agency supplies their male clients with the names and addresses of preferred women selected from the mail order bride catalog for the purpose of correspondence. The fee covers the cost of collecting information on the mail order brides, printing and mailing and catalog. In no way is payment made for the mail order bride. Furthermore, the mail order bride agency does not coerce women into becoming mail order brides. The mail order brides themselves volunteer their names and addresses to mail order bride catalogs, in the hope of finding a good husband.

The mail order bride catalog shakes off its shadowy image

What’s in a name? To the mail order bride industry, a mountain of distorted perceptions and half-truths. Since the inception of the first mail order bride catalog, the stain of the “mail order brides” phrase has been difficult to wash off. In an attempt to correct misconceptions about mail order bride agencies, the mail order bride industry describes itself more appropriately as: international introduction services, international dating agencies, or international matchmaking agencies. These terms are a more valid description of how mail order bride agencies function today. The mail order bride catalog has also taken the initiative of policing its ranks by exposing scammers and frauds. Additionally, mail order brides and their prospective husbands themselves benefit from the increased efficiency and sophistication of Internet-based mail order bride catalogs. Communication has become more immediate and information more freely available, thereby reducing the odds of becoming victimized by those few who are using the mail order bride catalog industry to make a quick buck.

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