Dating agency 20

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There have been hundreds of weddings and, today, in a world of speeddating and internet romance, she still has around 400 clients of all ages hoping Stella's personal touch can help find them their Mr or Miss Right.In the process, her work has become a fascinating barometer of social change: when Stella first started her agency in the early Sixties, newspapers refused to carry her adverts for fear of causing a scandal.It was the Forties and, quite simply, respectable girls just didn't do that sort of thing. Now aged 83, she can lay claim to the title of the country's oldest and most long-standing matchmaker, still dispatching affairs of the heart at the country offices of her own dating agency.In almost half a century of romantic busybodying, nearly 20,000 people have passed through her books - from Bluebell girls and businessmen to beauty queens and barristers.Today, she still sports the steely, scrutinising gaze that has been her principal professional tool during her 50-year career - a career she fell into by accident to distract herself from an unhappy marriage of her own (the irony of that inconvenient fact does not, of course, escape her).& Relationship Network is an owner managed boutique business with over 20 years of experience in introducing genuine men and women seeking long term relationships.Today, one in five new relationships and one in six marriages are estimated to begin online.

When a young Stella Groschel heard of her friend's plans to join a marriage bureau in her search for a husband, she was shocked to the core. I thought it was rather on the dangerous side and something that only really desperate, peculiar people would consider." Since then, however, Stella has learned to see matters from the other side.

In one corner is a cluster of Hallmark-red sofas; romantic slogans adorn a board above the photocopier.

There are hearts everywhere – from the pendant on an employee’s necklace to the novelty fruit bowl.

‘In order to achieve marriage, it is important to provide chances to know a partner’s personality and values in the early stages,’ says Kei Mastumura, the head of the agency.

‘We chose surgical masks as an essential tool for that.’ Which sounds like a nice idea in theory, encouraging people to forget about their date’s appearance and stop worrying about their own, and just be able to chat.

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