The Mail Order Bride Business

The Mail Order Bride Business


shutterstock_183572408TESSIE FLORENCE HAS BECOME an international matchmaker. Each month, working from her airy four-bedroom house in Santa Maria, Calif., the 42-year-old woman selects 224 photographs from the thousands she receives from Asian women looking for American husbands. In a home office complete with a photocopier and typesetter, she compiles a catalogue of those women and sends it, for a fee, to thousands of men in the United States and Europe who are seeking Asian brides.

It is a system that Mrs. Florence can personally endorse: she came to America as a mail-order bride. Like a majority of the women who permit their photographs to appear in marriage-agency catalogues, she grew up in the Philippines, surrounded by the poverty that helped fuel the recent popular uprising that overthrew President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Faced with the prospect of marrying a man chosen for her by her mother, she decided instead to answer an ad placed in a local newspaper by Lou Florence, an American engineer who was looking for a pen pal who was ”sincere, honest, faithful and marriage-minded.” They exchanged letters daily, tapes twice a week, and were married in Las Vegas in 1980. READ MORE