- The Washington Times - Friday, July 27, 2007

Busy singles looking for love need to look no further than their very own personal matchmaker.

Though the idea of matchmaking has been around for centuries, these modern-day cupids say it is beginning to gain momentum as a viable career option.

“It’s becoming a lot more publicized, a lot sexier of a career,” said Lisa Clampitt, a matchmaker since 2000 and executive director of the Matchmaking Institute, a matchmaking-training school she co-founded in 2003. “I think that people will start to more and more use a matchmaker.”

With more than 1,200 professional matchmakers across the country, the matchmaking industry raked in about $236 million in 2005, according to Forbes.com. Matchmakers often charge clients anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 or more a year — not including“marriage bonuses” that can reach six figures.

Mrs. Clampitt’s matchmaking business, VIP Life in New York, has led to more than 30 marriages and caters to an elite crowd. Six months of unlimited introductions cost a client $10,000, while a year costs $20,000.

On the highend, some matchmakers receive up to $100,000 or more from clients, said Kailen Rosenberg, a matchmaker in Minnesota who works with both national and international clients. She charges from $5,000 to $25,000 per client, depending on travel requirements and the extent of her services.

Despite an often high price tag, matchmakers say there is an immense demand for their services, especially in metropolitan areas, where singles work long hours and say they just don’t have the time or energy to search on their own.

Mrs. Clampitt partly attributed the recent popularity of the matchmaking industry to a growing number of singles who are fed up with Internet dating but still want help. She and several matchmakers cited class-action lawsuits against various Internet dating Web sites as helping to shift attention back to individual matchmakers.

“The beautiful thing about online dating is that it introduced a third party as a very acceptable way to meet someone. Over half of the singles population has been online,” she said. “But the rise of the whole world of matchmaking is really about people wanting a more personalized, private, confidential way of screening people.”

Contrary to its name, matchmaking is about more than matching two singles up, matchmakers say. Matchmakers often act as coaches or consultants, helping their clients in many different areas of their life.

Mrs. Rosenberg, president and founder of Minnesota matchmaking firm Global Love Mergers, also emphasized the counseling aspect of the job.

“People have to know that in order to work with me that they have to get deep and heavy,” said Mrs. Rosenberg, who works with up to 25 national and international clients a year.

Mrs. Rosenberg shies away from the title “matchmaker.” She prefers “love coach” or “love-life designer.” In some cases, she helps clients in many aspects of their lives, functioning as a life coach, stylist or personal trainer.

“I redesign people’s lives inside and out,” she said.

But the intensive coaching is not for all matchmakers.

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