If you’re thinking about hiring a matchmaker to outsource the work of finding a life partner, one of your key questions is how much they charge.
You can try to find the cost through review sites like Yelp, but many matchmaking companies are not listed, especially given the confidential nature of the work involved. You can ask around, but there’s going to be a huge range, and a friend may have totally different search parameters and thus quoted costs than you. Or you can research to identify some of the most popular or prestigious companies and visit their websites. But good luck – most of them do not publish their pricing. Many companies customize their pricing and packages based on: a) the geography you’re open to, b) how many introductions you want, and c) the estimated level of challenge of the search based on who you are and what you’re looking for.
Enter AI: the shortcut to any complex info these days.
That’s what you’d think. AI chatbots like ChatGPT continue to amaze the world and are certainly the future of…well, everything. But they're still learning. And we’ve noticed they are WAY behind in understanding the cost of matchmaking.
As the founder of DateSpot, the service connecting relationship-minded singles to the clients of matchmaking companies, I partner with over 80 matchmaking companies. I have unique insight into the space based on actual matching over time with these companies that no single person can find researching themselves. I’d like to take you behind the scenes to tell you what matchmaking REALLY costs.
To see how close AI would get, I typed in: “How much does a matchmaker cost?” It returned three paragraphs, with the highlights being:
“The cost of a matchmaker can vary widely depending on several factors… In general, matchmakers can charge anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.”
That sounds safe and general - a signature of AI. On the most affordable end, technically it is accurate. There are some select companies that charge “a few hundred dollars” for matchmaking. DateSpot is one of them. We have a Free route (where you can just meet the clients of partner matchmakers), a Freemium route (no setup fee, $49 to meet a client or $199 to meet a Premium member), and a proactive Premium route ($595 setup fee, $499/intro). In addition, I know of a small handful of other companies that charge less than $500 for services. However, they are either local only and thus often very limited in their database, or they do automated matches rather than curated by humans.
But the high end of AI’s answer is completely misleading. “A few thousand” makes it sound like hiring one of the most expensive matchmakers are less than $5K. In reality, I know that the vast majority of matchmaking companies do not offer dedicated service for less than $5K, and many start around $10K. And the most elite and largest companies charge $25K+. The absolute floor for dedicated service from Millionaire’s Club (from Patti Stanger of Millionaire Matchmaker TV show fame), Linx Dating (with Amy Andersen, “Silicon Valley’s Cupid”), and Kelleher Intl. (one of the oldest and largest agencies) is $45K. With Millionaire’s Club, you don’t even get access to Patti until you pay $85K, and that’s not even having her as your personal matchmaker - it’s just coaching sessions with her. Janis Spindel (with her daughter Carly) charges a minimum of $65K. And with any company where there are fluctuations in pricing, you can bet that most of each matchmaker’s time and attention goes to clients paying the most - which in many cases is over six figures.
Keep in mind also that many matchmaking companies charge more for women - often double. This may seem unfair and you know what? It is. But the truth is that searches for women generally are more difficult given the “inventory” out there. I decided to keep pricing equal for DateSpot members no matter what gender they identify with. I didn’t want to punish anyone.
Knowing ChatGPT’s response wasn’t telling the full story, I decided to get more specific and see how a second level question would fare. This time I factored in location, and requested an average number. Chatbots should certainly be able to handle numbers. “What is the average cost of matchmaking in the U.S.?” I typed.
Within seconds, I had the next guesstimate:
“As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, the average cost of matchmaking services in the United States could range from around $5,000 to $10,000 or more.”
Again, nice try. The factors that AI are pointing to in factoring in the numbers are solid. But the actual numbers are not.
I ask vetting questions of each matchmaking company I work with before giving them access to the DateSpot database. I need to ensure they are a reputable, legitimate business as the data is confidential. I also want to know more about their practices so I stay as up-to-date as possible, and make the best referrals to each one if someone could use a different service other than what DateSpot offers.
One of the questions I ask is cost. And the matchmakers have nothing to lose by telling me; we collaborate with each other on matches and referrals, so honesty is not just helpful, but essential. They’re telling me not what they want the public to hear, or a news outlet, or an investor, but the simple truth.
Sure, there’s a wide range and there isn’t an exact comparison because some packages are for 6 months while others are for a year. Some packages include coaching while others do not. Sometimes background checks are included, or there are guarantees of matches, or you can approve or decline any particular match.
Differences aside, I ran stats on the average cost of these 80 services overall. According to the AI response, I should be getting between $5-10K. To account for inflation from 2021 to 2023, let’s give it the benefit of the doubt and go on that high end and just round up to $10K.
In fact, the real cost was more than DOUBLE that high estimate. $20,698 to be exact.
It’s also important to note that about 95% of these companies charge the full amount upfront. About 5% of them offer “success fees”, where you’re paying a large chunk when you find success. But even those usually still charge something upfront, and they’re actually the most expensive if you do end up married or engaged. Only two of the 80 companies offer pay-per-match, where you’re paying as you go. Personally, I prefer charging pay-per-match, because I like to see how each individual person’s search unfolds. I don’t want to lock anyone in with a super difficult search - that’s not going to be productive for either of us. And people love the flexibility and low risk that a pay-per-match model entails.
It’s an important note that the types of companies the types of companies that are willing to pay for match leads through DateSpot are by nature going to be more elite and expensive than a new one-person matchmaking operation that is just starting out and so charges less for her lower amount of experience. But the companies we partner with are the companies that people want to work with. Remember that a small local operation probably does not have the network required to have a track record of consistent success.
No matter who you are or how much money you have, a $10K difference probably matters to you. And so does truth and accuracy.
The bottom line is that matchmaking is pricey. The exception is DateSpot, which is designed to make matchmaking affordable for the masses. And to be fair, that doesn’t mean expensive services are not worth it. It just means that if you use a traditional matchmaking company, you have to be prepared to make the investment like you would with a high risk fund in a stock portfolio. You have to be ok letting that amount go, if you don’t find a great connection - and nurture it with continuous effort from you.
So hopefully it’s helpful for you to know more about the actual costs before you do any research..and certainly before you get swept away by the charm of someone who is professional charming.
You’ll want to understand much more than cost to make your decision, of course…but that’s for another blog post. Or feel free to book a 45 min. video consultation with me to discuss your specific situation, what questions to ask, and what companies I recommend for you based on my personal experience working with them. I’m happy to make some intros, with no obligation.
Now, I do not expect these revolutionary chatbots to be perfect - and they admit their faults with their evident inaccuracy disclaimer. It would help if the AI cited sources with dates to help us make better decisions and use our own judgment about the results. I’m starting to determine that these bots are great for understanding processes and overviews, but not for details. Not for exact numbers. Not for emotions. And not for nuances.
That is all still best handled by humans. Just like there are algorithms galore in dating apps, but there’s nothing like the personal oversight and vetting of a professional matchmaker.