After a couple of years of being out of the foreign bride search, I finally went back abroad. This time I went to the Mordinson Marriage Agency in Kharkov, Ukraine.
To provide you with a little bit of history, I started looking for a foreign bride several years ago. I used websites online that specialized in international dating. Generally, this approach is well suited for the write many, visit one (WMVO) approach that I initially adopted. I wasn’t quite the seasoned traveler so it seemed to be too overwhelming to date more than one girl at once overseas. I made several trips and ended up becoming engaged to a Russian woman (RW) for some time, but the engagement fell apart.
It seemed that a new approach to foreign dating was required and I decided to give the agencies a shot. Marriage Agencies or Introduction Agencies are services that assemble a database of ladies for you to write to. The agency provides translation services, apartment rentals and function as de facto tour guides when you visit their city. Most men are reluctant to use them because a lot of agencies turned out to be lucrative scams, and even if the agency was honest, men would lose a degree of freedom during their correspondence and meeting since personal information and the correspondence tends to be strictly controlled.
What is Mordinson Marriage Agency?
Mordinson has been in the marriage and introduction business since 1999. Longevity is a good sign in this industry. They also are a registered business in Ukraine and have contact information on their website (another good sign). They also enjoy a good reputation among other bride seekers on the internet and that’s what matters the most; how clients rate the agency and would they recommend it. So you should definitely do your research about any agency that you may be interested in using and get people’s opinions about it.
The agency is being run and managed by Michael Mordinson. He was more than willing to answer any questions I might have had. He personally meets the ladies in his office and interviews them before accepting them in his agency. The ladies are notified that Mordinson is an international agency which means that the male clients are men that live in other countries, so the ladies are aware that they may need to move abroad if they get married at this agency.
Some of Mordinson’s services
Mordinson has a good reputation among foreign bride seekers on the internet but many believe that he’s too expensive for some reason. Mordinson has an introduction package that covers a 10-day visit for $2,650 which many think is a little pricey.
In my opinion, you have to think about value. The introduction package includes apartment rental, unlimited translations and dates, transportation to and from the airport and a cellphone that Michael provides you during your stay that you can use to call him at any time if you need anything or if you get lost. The apartment is pretty spacious but lacks a kitchen. But fortunately Kharkov is a pretty inexpensive city. Meals were typically only a few dollars and I wasn’t spending more than $30 each day. You will still need to cover your own airfare. For an American, that price can be significant.
I think what sells the service is that there is no limit to how many ladies you can write to and date. So to get good value, you would have to adopt the write many, visit many (WMVM) strategy. I think the price also keeps many looky-loos and keyboard romeos from swamping the ladies with attention so the ladies won’t get too jaded and think that you’re a serious man. Also, when your in town, Michael will show you around and give you advice on how to impress the ladies and what they expect, so you might as well listen to him. You’re paying for his advice too. Michael seems to be a humble and energetic person and is good company to be with.
The best thing I could say about Mordinson was how fast the translations were completed. Even fairly lengthy letters were translated within a day and there were often times where I would receive a lady’s reply withing 24 hours after I sent her a letter. But your mileage may vary. But it seems the main factor that affects the reply time is the lady herself. The agency isn’t sitting on the letters and milking the subscription service. So if you ended up subscribing to the monthly translation service ($175) and write to several ladies, you will get your money’s worth!
I’ve always been puzzled about some bride-seekers attitudes about price. Even if you’re thrifty in this bride search, it will cost more than you think. But in order for an agency to stay in business, it has to make a profit so that the owner and employees can make a living. Many men will agree to this sentiment (of course). But they still complain about outrageous pricing and agencies ripping them off. To be sure, there will be some sketchy agencies that do this, which is why research is important, but I think Mordinson has a good price structure for now.
The ladies of Mordinson
The agency is exclusive to the area, so they don’t have a large database of ladies which might be bad if you like a lot to choose from, but on the positive side of things, the agency interviews each girl personally and determines if she really wants to be married and is willing to marry a foreigner. The ladies also don’t seem to be listed anywhere else that I can tell. I’ve been to other websites looking for women from Kharkov, Ukraine and don’t recognize any Mordinson ladies.
Mordinson seems to have started out in professional photography and it shows. The photos of the ladies are fantastic. Some men have expressed skepticism about whether or not studio glamour shots end up being a misrepresentation of the ladies, but I’ve found that I’ve still been able to recognize the ladies in person. You are just seeing the best of themselves in the photos and they are still quite beautiful when you meet them in person. I think Mordinson knows what everybody else knows, that men judge women with their eyes and the agency that takes the best photos of their ladies will have the advantage in this market.
It’s not just appearance. As near as I can tell, the women seem genuine. The first meeting is usually at a cafe so it’s not an expensive date. Even during second or third meetings, the ladies aren’t trying to take you to expensive places or shopping sprees. They are very nice to be around.
What can you expect?
In my case, I took advantage of the unlimited correspondence and wrote to every lady that interested me. I would say that I received about a 30% positive response. This is much better than a typical man would get from dating in the US unless he was a pickup artist or an alpha male (celebrity, business man, professional athlete, etc). I’m more of an average Joe so this seemed to be a good response for me. Your mileage may vary.
Ultimately, I met about 6 ladies. This seems to be an ideal amount but you can meet more of them. There were others I was interested in meeting, but they cancelled. This happens sometimes–you click with a girl and make plans to visit her, but on the 11th hour she gets sick or gets married or moves to that village with no name where all the grandmothers in Russia and Ukraine live that has no cell phone reception. In fairness, this is a risk when dating internationally, but this seems happen more when dealing with agencies and my trip was no exception.
You’ll spend the first few days of your trip meeting the ladies and use the rest of the trip build a relationship with who you like. Of the six that I met, about three of them weren’t interested in another meeting with me. One of them seemed like she really liked me but I couldn’t return her affections. There ended up being one that seems to like me as much as I like her and I hope we can keep the relationship moving forward.
Basically, it seems if you have realistic expectations, things may turn out well for you, but nothing can be guaranteed since you’ll never know how the girls may feel about you because it’s only letters at first. It might be worth doing a video conference with the ladies that reply to your introduction letter to see if there is any chemistry before you visit them. I didn’t use this service, but it might improve your success rate.
I was in Kharkov during the end of September 2014 and everything seemed peaceful and quiet at this time. The Russian-instigated rebellion that has been covered in the news has been confined to the southeast of the country while Kharkov is further north. The American government has opposed Russian activity in the country and the Ukrainians like this so Americans seem to be well received. Most people I talk to are in favor of a unified Ukraine.
The apartment and the Mordinson office are located about a 10-15 minute walk from the main square (Freedom Square) and is in a gated courtyard that requires a key to enter and it seems to be manned with a watchman. You will also need a key code to get into the building and a separate key to enter the apartment so the apartment seems pretty safe with these three secure entry points. I also recall hearing children playing in the playgrounds nearby so I thinK this is a pretty safe area.
It was odd that on the same day I left, a popular demonstration had pulled down the Lenin statue on Freedom Square. I had walked past this statue several times during my visit and probably took the last pictures of this statue while it was still standing. It’s a reminder that anything can happen when you travel abroad, but there’s obviously so much anti-Russian sentiment that there won’t be much meddling in this area of Ukraine for the foreseeable future.
Anti-Russian demonstrators pull down the Lenin statue on the same day that I left; September 28, 2014
I highly recommend the Mordinson Marriage Agency in Kharkov and stress for you to do your research and follow the news carefully when planning your trip to this region.