For someone who doesn’t watch reality TV or dating shows, Kady Nettik certainly got herself into a “Bachelor”-like situation.
Nettik, 24, is a senior at Idaho State studying advertising and is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is also single. Many of her friends in the church, on the other hand, are married with children, she said.
When a friend came across a Facebook post advertising an “LDS Millionaire Matchmaker” event, Nettik decided to take the plunge and apply. She wouldn’t get chosen anyway, she thought. They were both going to apply, but the friend actually did not.
Nearly 2,500 people applied to have the opportunity to spend a night speed-dating an anonymous bachelor, who, due to disclosure agreements by contestants, remains anonymous. The man is between 35 and 45-years-old, Nettik said.
Twenty finalists were invited to the event, and Nettik was one of them.
Much has been made of the event; with billboards around Salt Lake City advertising it, a media frenzy seemed sure to follow.
“We certainly didn’t plan on having this much press attention, even with the billboards we placed around Utah. We did the billboards as a way to reach a broader audience of eligible single women for our bachelor,” Erin Schurtz, the relationship expert for The LDS Matchmaker, the company that organized the night, told the Statesman in an email. “Our bachelor didn’t agree to do this as a publicity stunt or to gain his 15 seconds of fame — he actually really wants to find love.”
“Are you looking for a millionaire husband? Here’s a tip for you: Fill out an application with your age, height, body type, number of kids desired, hobbies, criminal history and description of your involvement in the Mormon Church, and you just might get the chance to meet this mystery man,” The Washington Post joked.
When reached for comment on the event, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told the Statesman in an email, “We don’t have anything to offer due to the fact that this wasn’t our event.”
Yes, the premise of the entire thing was strange. And no, Nettik doesn’t necessarily consider herself “the best member (of the church) to look up to.” But she has seen a lot of negative publicity regarding the event and wanted to set the record straight: The whole thing was actually kind of nice.
“It was not my experience that it was bad,” Nettik said in a phone interview with the Statesman. “I really did enjoy it.”
But ‘it was embarrassing’
As Nettik filled out her application, she wondered whether answers could be held against her. Was this some sort of trap?
The application, which is still available online, required up to four photographs and asked questions about marital status, occupation, education level, involvement in the LDS church and whether or not the woman served a mission. There was also a section where applicants were asked about prior relationships, how long they lasted and “reasons things didn’t work out.”
“I didn’t go into much detail (on my answers),” Nettik said. “Any of those answers might affect their choice. I tried to be honest and short and concise as possible.”
The premise of the LDS Millionaire Matchmaker event was fairly straightforward: A man — according to the Salt Lake Tribune he is from San Diego and, among other things, has, “worked in the White House under a previous Republican president” — would meet 20 women consecutively in rounds of five-minute speed dates.
Successful “dates” would then lead to proper dates. The event itself took place on June 7 at a country club in Utah and was organized by LDS Matchmaker, which is essentially Match.com but exclusively for the LDS community. The company was formed in 2011, Schurtz said, as a way “to help Latter-day Saint singles find love.”
The millionaire bachelor approached LDS Matchmaker, and the company decided to hold an event. It was the first event it had held where one specific person was the focus, Schurtz said.
“Love and marriage are very important to the LDS faith, because we believe that one of the purposes of this life is to find your spouse and marry for eternity, not just for this life,” Schurtz said. “Many marry in their early to mid-20’s and start families early because of this focus in teachings and culture.”
Nettik said she told her mother about sending in an application for the event but swore her to secrecy.
“It was embarrassing,” Nettik said. “It wasn’t like a Tinder date. ... It was 20 girls going on a date with one man ... I think other people would think (poorly) of me.”
Following the application process, Nettik conducted a Skype interview with the LDS dating website, much to her surprise. Then she learned she was in the top 20. A total of 200 people were interviewed by LDS Matchmaker, Schurtz said.
So on that fateful night, each contestant was told to leave her cellphone at the agency. Nettik then got into a limousine with a group of other contestants, and they made their way to the country club. Each contestant got a minute on “the red carpet.” Then they went inside.
“Those invited to attend will have an unforgettable evening of intrigue, surprise, and delight as he and his team of celebs get to know you. Even if it’s not a match with our bachelor, we are confident participants will thoroughly enjoy this well-planned, unique experience,” the event’s website read.
First, the bachelor’s best friend spoke to the contestants. Members of the bachelor’s family spoke next. It wasn’t as weird as it sounds, Nettik said, because it’s good to hear how other people speak about a person.
Then the bachelor finally appeared, cloaked by a white sheet so as to create a silhouette. He remained this way for 2 minutes, Nettik said.
If nothing else, some of Nettik’s fears were immediately alleviated by the shadowy image: The bachelor was tall and fit. At least the physical attributes could be crossed off the list. His personality? That remained to be seen.
“I guess I did feel a relief,” she said with a laugh.
He finally revealed himself and gave the room a PowerPoint presentation. The topic? Why he put himself on billboards in the first place. Nettik said she was not allowed to discuss the specifics of the presentation.
Each contestant was then given a Kate Spade necklace. Nettik said that the bachelor did not pick out the necklaces himself and that the price tags were also accidentally left on ($68 a piece, she said).
There were some intimidating moments throughout dinner, Nettik said. Most of the women lived in Utah, but one flew in from New York for the event. Some were models. The bachelor spent about 10 minutes at each table of five contestants.
Eventually, the festivities began.
While each woman was taken one-by-one into a room to have a five-minute conversation with the bachelor, the rest of the contestants played trivia, awaiting their turns. When Nettik was called back, she was first prepped for what was to come. Then, the “date” happened.
Well, then the “interview” happened.
Five minutes isn’t a long time, and Nettik said the bachelor asked, at most, three questions, and didn’t really get to answer anything about himself. After it was all said and done, she was interviewed again, this time by the agency. She was asked how it went and whether she would go on a second date with the bachelor. She did not want to, she said, largely due to an age gap and a lack of a “spark.”
After all of the “interviews,” the bachelor returned to the group and hosted a trivia game. Then each woman received a rose, a hug and was sent on her way. She said she later found out through text messages with her tablemates that one of them had “advanced to the next round.”
“We didn’t actually put parameters on winners for the end result and rather wanted the bachelor to feel as if he could continue in a normal dating process,” Schurtz said. “If we were to have set him up one-by-one, the dating process would have taken weeks to months, and this just sped up the introduction process, not the courting process afterward.”
‘Secrecy is gone’
Nettik will be the first to admit that the event was strange. She will also, however, tell you that she was pleasantly surprised by the experience.
For starters, the bachelor himself was not creepy, as might have been assumed from the start. When a man puts up billboards looking for a wife, people often infer the worst.
Nettik is fully convinced that the bachelor could have gotten some dates without the help of the event. She said she also believes that he should look for older women, because the oldest contestant was 31.
“I felt like he was more of an uncle when he talked. Also, I felt like he was intimidating because of his resume,” she said. ”A lot of things he quoted or references he made went over their heads.”
Nettik also said she enjoyed meeting the other contestants and has kept in contact with the women who sat at her table. No, she did not find the love her life — she did match on Tinder with the event’s photographer, though — but she would be open to doing something like this again. If nothing else, there’s no need to hide her marital status anymore.
“Before, it was I didn’t want people to know I was single, on dating apps, not married,” she said. “Doing this and talking about it, that secrecy is gone now.”
The event was a success on The LDS Matchmaker’s end as well, despite some negative press.
“There have been both positive and negative stories about the event. Because the bachelor’s identity is confidential and the event was private, there have been not-so-favorable conclusions the media has drawn,” Schurtz said. “We understand that we are not going to make everyone happy ... In the end, though, we think the press has been a good thing. We are happy to have reached a broader audience and are seeing some amazing things come from the attention.”