One in five marriages in the US is between people of different ethnicities, and 5% of those involve a mail order bride. The practice that emerged in the 17th century to help new American settlements survive has gained popularity with the rise of globalization, travel, and technology.
Where in the days of Yore, men had to place newspaper ads and wait months for their brides to cross the Atlantic, now international dating sites make it easy and fast to find and order a bride. Let’s learn more about the inner workings of this industry together.
Best Mail Order Brides & Dating Sites in 2023
Introduction to the concept of mail order brides: Where are we now?
Around 200,000 single women globally are aspiring to become mail order brides for American, Canadian, and European men. And the trend has been growing over the past decades. For example, in 2007, an estimated 16,000 foreign brides married US citizens, and nearly 25,000 ladies entered America in 2022 using K-1 fiance visas. And the number was even higher in 2019, before the pandemic, as over 41,000 foreigners received fiance visas to come to the US.
Of course, there’s no way to tell how many of the foreign brides actually got married to Americans after coming to the US. However, we can also cite recent studies demonstrating the highest-ever acceptance rate of interracial marriage, which reached 94% in 2021.
Considering the steady rise of intermarriage brought it to over 17% in 2017, we can safely assume that Americans are getting more excited about and accepting interracial and international couples. Therefore, looking for a wife abroad is becoming less of a curiosity and more of a mainstream trend.
What motivates women to become mail order brides?
Generalizations cannot do justice to mail ordered wives’ motivation to leave their homelands behind and seek love across borders.
Still, based on our research, the four major drivers include the following:
- Dangerous and oppressive environments. Women are often desperate to flee countries with authoritarian governments and high crime rates, like Bolivia, Russia, or Belarus, and becoming online brides gives them a chance to find a better life abroad.
- Low socio-economic status. The wage gap exceeds 20% even in some of the most prosperous countries, like South Korea and Japan, so women expect to have better chances of making a living in the US.
- Stifling gender stereotypes. Conservative and religious societies expect women to get married before 18, give birth to half a dozen babies, and take care of household chores. An international marriage gives an out to women who wish to break the mold.
- Lacking local males. When women find local guys lacking in respect, affection, or financial stability, they seek partners abroad.
For many women, two or more of these reasons combine to create an untenable situation that spurs them into action looking for a foreign husband.
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History and evolution of the mail order bride industry
Before we delve further into the dynamics of looking for a bride abroad, let’s take a short detour and see how the mail order bride industry emerged and evolved over the last four centuries:
- 1600s and 1700s. The first mail order brides came to Virginia in 1619 to help settlers develop a stable colony. The French orphan girls known as The Filles du Roi (King’s daughters) came to Canada in the middle of the 17th century for the same purpose. In contrast, Louisiana enforced immigration, as few women were willing to risk their lives coming to the dangerous colony.
- 1800s. In 1849, Eliza Farnham published a newspaper ad seeking women interested in moving West to become the wives of Californians swept by the gold rush. Matrimonial newspaper advertisements became quite popular before the Civil War, as they helped potential spouses get to know each other better before meeting in person.
- 1900s. Popular at the beginning of the 20th century, local and international mail order marriages petered out by the 1950s. Moreover, as foreign brides dominated the industry, the attitude toward interracial marriage turned hostile.
- 2000s. The turn of the millennium saw the revival of the international mail order bride industry, and the number of K-1 fiance visas kept growing before the pandemic.
So not only are mail order brides a staple of American culture, but they were an integral part of the early success of the US. It’s no wonder their popularity always surges after occasional dips.
The dynamics of finding mail order brides: How it works and what to expect
The process of getting a bride by mail hasn’t changed much over the last 400 years, though technological advances make it easier than ever.
The process follows a few simple steps:
Choose a matrimonial destination (country or region) based on your preferences.
Research and pick a niche dating site specializing in your chosen region.
Sign up and create a dating profile with attractive photos and a compelling bio.
Search for the best foreign brides using filters or matching tools like swiping.
Use communication tools, like live chat, video calls, etc., to get to know each other.
Agree on an appropriate time and place for an in-person meeting to gauge your compatibility.
Arrange the bride’s move to the US and get married.
And we’ll be happy to share the specifics and best practices for each of these stages to improve your chances with wives for sale.
The legal framework: Understanding the laws surrounding mail order bride arrangements
First, you cannot actually buy a wife. That would be human trafficking and 100% illegal. Instead, you can use dating services to find and date a foreign girl.
American government realizes the growing popularity of mail order brides and aims to protect the women coming to America using two major legislations:
- International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005 (IMBRA). The Act regulates the operation of international marriage brokers and governs international marriage practices. For example, dating sites are prohibited from sharing images and personal information of people under 18. At the same time, Americans interested in marrying foreigners must disclose their criminal history. And they can only file for two K-1 visas with a break of at least two years between them.
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The Act has gone through multiple iterations, but its primary goal is to protect women, including mail order brides, from domestic abuse. However, the latest version also aims to protect the victims of cyber abuse and bullying.
Although these regulations may seem unnecessarily convoluted, they are designed to protect women coming to America. At the same time, you should research national regulations regarding marriage brokers to stay out of trouble.
For example, international marriage services are outlawed in the Philippines, despite the country’s popularity in the mail order bride market.
The potential risks and challenges of the mail order bride industry
Heartbreak is an inherent risk of any romantic relationship, but international dating comes with a host of unique challenges.
Here’s a list of potential risks you might face if you decide to buy a bride online:
- Online scam. In 2022, over 70,000 people lost their money to romance scammers, and their losses exceeded $1.3 billion, with a median loss of over $4,000 per person. Still, most scammers rely on the same tricks, so if you learn the red flags, you should be able to recognize the risk in time to avoid losing money. For example, offers to teach you cryptocurrency investment, send you a gift card, or request financial support are all likely signs of a scam.
- Fake profiles. They don’t merely use filters and effects to make photos more attractive. Instead, fake profiles steal personal information and images of real people to use as a front. Once you get interested in a fake profile, they can either try to steal your money, personal information, or intimate materials that can be used for blackmail. Luckily, a simple reverse image search is usually enough to learn if the person behind the profile is real. And most reputable dating sites require user verification via email, phone, or video upload, reducing the number of fake profiles.
- Gold diggers. Although financial reasons are no longer the main driver for mail order brides, some girls may use a relationship with Western men to secure a stable lifestyle and support their families at home. Recognizing monetary motives online can be challenging, but once you meet in person, you should have no trouble identifying the true reasoning behind the girl’s desire to marry you.
One could argue that divorce is also a risk, but there’s no evidence that mail order marriages are less stable and lasting than local families. So as long as you use common sense and due diligence, you should be safe.
Alternatives and options: Exploring other avenues for finding a partner
Half of single Americans use online dating to find potential partners, but there are other effective means of searching for love.
Here are a few typical examples:
- Meeting through mutual acquaintances. Before the pandemic, it was the most common way of meeting long-term partners and spouses for Americans. And although the popularity of this method dropped recently, it still accounts for roughly a third of all successful relationships in the US. Besides, the pool of potential partners can only expand as your social network grows.
- Dating on social media. Americans spend over 3 hours on social media daily, with Facebook and Instagram being the most popular platforms. So it’s only natural they try to use their time scrolling through the feed to find attractive users and potential romantic partners. This approach is less efficient than dedicated dating sites but still gaining popularity.
- Finding love via international travel. If you’re set on interracial marriage with a foreigner and using dating sites seems too impersonal, you can put vacation time to good use to travel, make new acquaintances, and potentially meet the love of your life. Obviously, this approach is the most time-consuming and costly, so it may work best for freelancers and people who often travel on business.
Other alternatives to online dating may include meeting through religious practices, school, or work. And meeting in bars and restaurants remains a staple of the American dating culture. Pick a bar in a Chinese, Korean, or Polish neighborhood, and you get a chance to meet foreign single ladies.
Conclusion: The future of mail order brides and societal attitudes towards them
First mail order brides came to America in the 1600s to help early settlers develop their colonies. The practice survived forced immigration, hostile social attitudes, and digitization to remain as popular as ever in the 21st century.
And reputable, user-friendly, international dating sites facilitate long-distance relationships and romance, helping thousands of foreign ladies entering the US to marry Americans every year. As online dating and globalization progress, we’re likely to see another surge in mail order bride popularity.