The practice of mail-order brides originated in the American Wild West, when male cowboys and settlers wanted loyal wives, rather than just female company. They would arrange from a woman to come join them, would marry them and start a family together. Today, mail-order brides still exist.
Although it may seem rather sexist and archaic in modern society, due to Internet dating sites, it still takes place, despite all the many problems associated with it.
The term mail-order bride itself is problematic, as it comes with the connotation that men are picking women out of a catalog. Today, other terms are used such as pen-pal relationship or international matchmaking, to be more politically correct.
Back in the time of cowboys and the Wild West, there were far more men than their were women. Men realized that they need women not only for love and comfort, but to also help them tame the nature of the west, such build churches and schools.
The communication between a man out west and a woman out east would become very serious, with conversations leading to adult only topics, and would sometimes also include pictures in the letters.
Men in the Wild West however were not the only ones looking for a bride, a large industry came about for Asian immigrants looking for a bride. They were known as picture brides, and the marriages were organized by matchmakers who would set people up based on photos.
Nowadays, believe it or not, mail-order brides come from all around the world, and is mainly due to low economic status, with millions of people looking for ways to leave their home and start a new life.
Any many who is interested in doing such a thing must be ready to lay out a very hefty sum of cash to a marriage broker who orchestrates the agreement, and it is not uncommon for men to get scammed out of the money. After paying the large sum to their bride-to-be, in many cases she will not show up or never even existed to start out with.
In some lucky cases, these arrangements do end up in happy marriages, but it can also feel like a credit card transaction and is a risk for both parties.