Lifestyle

Sydney dating scene shaken up by niche match-making services


No pets allowed: Marjorie Libourel has an international client base of lonely hearts.

No pets allowed: Marjorie Libourel has an international client base of lonely hearts.

Rose Zhou applies brutal honesty when clients have arrived with “unrealistic expectations” at her Chinese introduction agency, but declined offering any further insights, insisting her clientele “would not like me talking about them”.

Australian Muslim Marriage bills itself as the world’s first marriage website endorsed by two sheikhs and based on Islamic principles.

And Marjorie Libourel, who specialises in Jewish introductions as well as non-religious couplings, offers practical advice to those seeking relationships, from not posing with dogs in profile pictures to getting off the dating app “treadmill”.

Born in France, Libourel worked as a lobbyist in Brussels before becoming a professional matchmaker. Using her skills in diplomacy and her degree in sociology, she moved to Sydney with her Australian partner and set up her own agency, ML Introductions.

She focuses on a maximum of 40 high-net-worth men a year, who pay $10,000 to meet women Libourel says fit their specific dating criteria.

“I believe apps have made us a much more disposable society. There is minimal vetting online, so people don’t really know the person they are communicating with,” Libourel says.

“I have a deep understanding of my clients and what they are looking for. We are not in the business of throwing people in the bin and swiping on to the next person … we subscribe to the credo ‘date them until you hate them’.”

Vinko Anthony and his husband Andrea Zaza established Beau Brummell introduction agency for gay men.

Vinko Anthony and his husband Andrea Zaza established Beau Brummell introduction agency for gay men.

Vinko Anthony and his husband Andrea Zaza established Beau Brummell, an introduction agency specialising in gay men seeking monogamous, long-term relationships, 14 years ago.

“We have helped create 1400 relationships that have lasted a minimum of one year, and many of them are still going strong today,” Anthony said.

The one-year mark is the criteria for success at the couple’s now-global business, named in honour of the 18th-century English “dandy” who beguiled London’s aristocracy.

“We don’t offer instant gratification, we are for gay men who want a meaningful partnership. I meet every one of our clients personally and work with them over many months,” explains Anthony, who formerly worked as Lucy Turnbull’s personal assistant.

“People outsource so much of their lives, why should relationships be any different? A lot of our clients are burned out by the apps, left feeling cynical about the whole dating scene.”

While Gilbert’s Elite Introductions fees start at $12,000 and Beau Brummell charges about $8000, in Pendle Hill, Indian Matrimonial’s founder Parul Mehta is charging a fraction of that.

“I barely cover my operating costs,” she admits of her $300 joining fee. “I do this because it is very satisfying to see a couple find happiness. In Indian culture marriage is a particularly big thing, but arranged marriages are no longer accepted today, especially in Australia. Potential relationships also involve the families too, so my clients are not just their sons and daughters, it is often the parents.”

Parul Mehta offers modern matchmaking services to the Australian Indian community.

Parul Mehta offers modern matchmaking services to the Australian Indian community.

Mehta has been matchmaking for eight years and limits her database to 1000 people, but says her success rate is the reason she is still in business.

“I listen to expectations and offer frank advice,” she said. “You must employ a little bit of psychology and be a meddling auntie at the same time. I call this ‘facilitated relationships’.”

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