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|Hayley Matthews • 1/25/18|
The Short Version: Throughout the Ukraine, Natali Koval is known for her international connections and savvy matchmaking skills. She’s worked in the matchmaking industry since 1996 and has introduced hundreds of foreign men to local women in Kiev. In 2003, she founded her own private agency, Marriage by Natali, to unite marriage-minded people around the world. Today, she offers her hands-on matchmaking services to men in the US, the UK, Canada, and other parts of the world. She personally screens all female clients in her database to make sure she only introduces men to genuine, smart, and attractive women who are interested in finding a long-term partner. Over the past 15 years, Natali has earned a reputation as a trustworthy Kiev-based matchmaker trained by the International Matchmaking Institute. “Finding a family has now become a global issue,” she said. “I can help with that.”
John Hume was in his 60s when he became a client of Marriage by Natali, a respected matchmaking agency in Kiev. John wanted to meet single Ukrainian women, but, unlike most of Natali’s clients, he wasn’t interested in marriage. He had been married four times before and just wanted to play the field. He had even boasted to his friends that he’d give $50,000 to one of them if he ever married again. He’d felt so hurt after his previous marriages, and he never wanted to go through that pain again.
Seasoned matchmaker Natali Koval soon introduced John to Albina, a young and lively woman living in Kiev. Natali suspected they’d get along because they were both sexually active and loved to travel. However, John didn’t think Albina was his type (because she wasn’t blonde), and Albina wasn’t interested in marrying John (because he was older than she expected for long-term relations), so they agreed to stay friends and lovers without being exclusive.
Two years later, Albina proposed to John, and he said yes. They live together on a ranch in South Africa.
Natali aims to inspire transformational love stories, like John and Albina’s, in her work as an international matchmaker based in the Ukraine. “I speak up for my industry,” she told us. “I believe in the mission matchmakers can fulfill when they do it the right way.”
Natali loves bringing people together and has honed her skills and intuition over decades of hard work. She knows how to manage her clients’ expectations and introduce them to love interests with long-term potential. “Common sense is my main guiding criteria,” she told us. “Physical attraction is not enough.”
In 2008, Natali became a certified matchmaker trained by the International Matchmaking Institute. Even though she’d been in the business for years before that, she said the Institute’s courses blew her away and helped take her matchmaking skills to another level.
She even went back to university in 2011 and spent the next two years working on a psychology degree because she felt it would help her advise her clients in matters of the heart. “I was hungry for any training I could get,” she said. “I wanted to develop my psychological skills because I saw how counseling clients had a profound impact on their successes.”
As a child, Natali was always running back and forth between classmates who had crushes on each other. A girl would ask her to deliver a message to the boy she liked. A boy would give her flowers to give to a girl he liked. She would gladly give romantic advice and set her friends up on dates. She was already developing her matchmaking skills, and she didn’t even realize it.
“I was always the matchmaker,” she recalled. “I was the secret confidant for every boy and girl in my playground.”
In 1993, Natali, by then a young adult, discovered a passion for the English language. She had an enthusiastic teacher who inspired her to apply herself to her studies so she could pass the English exams she needed to enter university in 1995.
Her goal was to get her degree and teach world literature or English as a second language. However, in her second year at university, a friend asked if she wanted to do some freelance matchmaking work. She could use her language skills to attend social parties and build connections between Western men and Ukrainian women. It sounded like fun, so she began joining groups of 30 to 120 American and European men and giving honest dating advice to help them attract a Ukrainian partner.
“Very quickly after meeting with her, I was put at ease, as it is clear she is genuinely committed to finding the right women for her clients.” — Neil, one of Natali’s former clients
Many of the men grew to trust her judgment and began asking for her help specifically, some even calling while she was in class. Over the years, Natali gained experience as a freelance networker and became a force to be reckoned with in the matchmaking business — but she was still reluctant to call it her career. She taught English in the aviation industry and viewed matchmaking as a fun side project.
In 2003, her clients and colleagues convinced her to start her own agency, which she called Marriage by Natali. For the next year, she juggled her family life (she had just had her second son) while building a database of single men and women she knew personally. In 2004, on the day the Orange Revolution started, Natali took out a loan and purchased an office in the heart of Kiev. She worried the country’s political unrest would stop foreigners from traveling to the Ukraine, but her business was actually so profitable that she paid off her 10-year loan within three years.
Today, Natali has been working in that same office since 2004 and has helped hundreds of clients find an international love affair. “It was my calling to be a matchmaker,” she said. “This is it. I’m good at it, and I’m no longer looking for another business.”
Many Ukrainian women want to live the American dream and rise above their poor circumstances, but they don’t have the knowledge, network, or resources to truly find happiness abroad. They can’t do it on their own, and that’s why they turn to Natali. This trustworthy matchmaker can tell single women what to expect in an international relationship and introduce them to foreign partners who offer a better life.
Women under the age of 45 can sign up for Natali’s database for free or become a paying client if they wish. Natali personally screens the women to make sure they’re genuine people with good energy, but she doesn’t ask them to pay for her introduction service. Women over 45 must pay because it’s harder to match them. After a complimentary 15-minute evaluation meeting, men pay $150 to register for Natali’s exclusive matchmaking club and then sign a contract agreeing to pay $3,000 once they have married one of Natali’s recommended matches.
“I’m results-oriented,” the Ukrainian matchmaker told us. “I’m not just in it to make money. I enjoy the social possibilities. I can do something to help people, so I do that.”
When a male client comes to Natali, she assesses the way he looks, dresses, talks, and acts in a social setting. She wants to get a sense of who he is and what he wants in life so she can adequately match him. “I build an emotional connection with my clients,” she said, “and try to understand how great this person is.”
Natali told us she doesn’t typically match couples with more than a 15-years age difference because she wants to foster real relationships that last. She does her best to meet the expectations of her male and female clients when making introductions, and she offers personal dating advice and support throughout the process. She said she feels heavily invested in the love lives of her clients and gives them personal growth tips so they can excel on the dates she sets up or meet and woo someone on their own.
“I’m happy when they have success,” she said. “I take an altruistic approach to matchmaking. It’s my responsibility to take on clients and help them perform at the maximum level.”
Natali takes her successes to heart and can list dozens of couples who got married, stayed together, and kept in touch over the years. She can even recall the specific wedding days of some. One Houston couple got married on the day Natali gave birth to her daughter. Another couple got married on her husband’s birthday. “It’s funny that important events in my life coincide with my client’s weddings,” she said. “This is my job, and I believe it’s what I’m meant to do.”
In 2017, Natali arranged five marriages — three in the US, one in Canada, and one in the UK. She said she currently has 10 more couples who are engaged and waiting on paperwork or travel arrangements before they officially tie the knot. Natali estimates that, of the hundreds of introductions she arranges each year, she’ll get about 50 steady couples out of it and a handful of engagements and marriages. You can read her favorite testimonials here.
“Natali combines the best of Ukrainian warmth with the best of Western service,” wrote Donald Stevens, a Canadian author. “Her care of clients is simply extraordinary in nature.”
Over the years, Natali has traveled across the world to attend the weddings of couples she introduced. She loves it when they send wedding invitations, baby announcements, and pictures of their new lives in the US, the UK, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. She said it’s her goal to one day host a big party for all her couples (who can come) to celebrate her years in the matchmaking business.
Because she’s been in the matchmaking industry for over a decade, Natali has even had the opportunity to rematch some clients who felt satisfied the first time around but now, for whatever reason, have re-entered the dating world.
For example, one client named Mike met his wife Olga through Natali and became a return client 10 years later after their amicable divorce. Natali had introduced Mike to Olga, who was working as a waitress, in 2002, and they had subsequently gotten married and moved to New York City where Olga began a career as a hairdresser.
In 2012, the relationship ended, and Mike came to Natali hoping she could help him find another partner to love as much as he had loved Olga. The matchmaker thought it over and introduced him to someone who, on paper, seemed the polar opposite of Mike’s first wife. She was a working woman who owned property, had lived and worked in Paris, and had two children from a previous marriage. As soon as they met in person, Mike fell head over heels for this smart, international woman, and they’re now engaged to be married.
“I don’t believe in ideal couples,” Natali told us. “People have to feel real emotions. They can be upset or angry, but they need to be wiling to find a compromise. There is no universal recipe for love or family happiness, but there needs to be a strong willingness to work on it together.”
Natali said John and Albina are one of her most outstanding couples because their love grew naturally and became a force for good in the world. Even though they’ve been together for years, they never stop challenging each other and having fun.
Marriage by Natali made that unlikely relationship possible, and the agency has helped hundreds of other couples start a new life together. Through rigorous screening and compassionate service, Natali provides the support Western men and Ukrainian women need to find the perfect match.
“There are no guarantees when it comes to love, commitment, and long-term relationships,” Natali said, “but I will do my best to help my couples make it work.”