VerdictThe platform is not for the light-minded — its main focus is on successful marriages and, as of today, the site accounts for an astonishing over 5 million of those.
Shaadi.com Review: Where East Meets West
Shaadi is a number one platform connecting Indian singles not only with local peers, but also with eligible partners from the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Since its launch in 1996, Shaadi has become one of the top dating platforms in all India (which is impressive given its population of 9 billion people) and is steadily gaining popularity in the West. Any person, regardless of age and nationality, can join, so most men from the major English-speaking countries use the service to meet eligible Indian brides.
However, one should bear in mind that the platform is not for the light-minded — its main focus is on successful marriages and, as of today, the site accounts for an astonishing 1.3 million of those. Neither does the site cater to gay marriages — it is designed specifically for straight people planning to get seriously involved. So, if you are interested in a happy-ever-after with an Indian match, read on — we’ll discuss the most essential features of the platform, including its costs, services, and users.
Shaadi users: who they are?
Shaadi claims to have at least 10 million active Asian profiles, most of which come from India. Approximately 1 million users are men from the US, looking to find a lady to settle down with. The site enjoys a total of 65 thousand visits per month.
If however, you are a man looking for a wife abroad, you should note that male users outnumber female ones by a large extent. Almost two-thirds of the user database are men, so one can state that the platform is more favourable for women — they, at least, have a vaster pool of options to choose from. However, given the total amount of users, it’s unlikely that anyone’s selection will be limited. In any case, most men will have a choice between millions of potential matches, and this is more than most dating sites can offer.
And, even though the site only allows heterosexual, male-female matches, it does welcome physically and mentally challenged members, as well as people diagnosed with HIV. This is a truly heart-warming feature, so no one can call Shaadi a prejudiced platform — it just happens that their focus is on traditional marriages.
Signing up with the service
Shaadi has a lengthier registration process than most dating services out there. To sign up with the service, users have to fill in plenty for obligatory fields, including their age, location, residency, educational background, potential partner preferences, and even — an annual income. While some of these questions may seem too personal and even off-putting, one should not forget that Shaadi positions itself as a matching expert. And, given that the end goal of using the service is a happy and lasting marriage, submitting such amounts of personal data becomes justified.
More than that, Shaadi takes time to verify user IDs, which reduces the number of fake accounts to a minimum — even though it is technically possible to create an account for some of your friends and relatives — provided you can submit their IDs for site verification. Users are also required to fill in their profile descriptions. For those who are not used to describing themselves, Shaadi offers a useful tool — profile description generator. It should help polish your ideas along with your profile.
Usually, the registration takes at least 10-15 minutes. The service requires two-step verification — apart from uploading your personal data, photos and documents, all new users are sent a one-time password (over mobile). New users sign in using this password (you are requested to change it later). After that, site management goes on to screening your photos, your uploaded IDs, as well as your profile descriptions. So, it may still take some time for the account to get activated.
How to search and contact users
It’s not that diffract to wrap your head around Shaadi’s smart search algorithms. The filters are pretty extensive and, given how much info users are supposed to fill in when they register, you can indicate practically any search parameters you like. There is a total of 24 different search criteria users can fill in when looking for potential matches.
If you do not feel like specifying that many parameters, you can make use of the “matches” option. This way, site algorithms will automatically look for a match that meets all criteria you specified during the registration. You can filter match suggestions by location, personal preferences, etc.
You can also shortlist any profiles you like — regardless if you’ve found them yourself or if you made use of site’s “Matches” system. The major downside of the service is that free members have very limited options when it comes to contacting other users. A free profile can ‘show interest’ in another account; however, free users cannot send direct messages to other members — to do that, one will need a premium membership. If a paid user, however, sends a message to a free one, the free account can reply for free.
So, even though Shaadi does offer a couple of means to interact with other members without getting a premium membership, these means are barely enough to truly enjoy an online dating experience and get to know the others. All profiles are visible to the public, though, so you can take your time to look around and see if you would like to get that membership at all. If you do, you’ll also have a chance to use Shaadi chatroom.
Shaadi profiles: quality and informativeness
Given the lengthy registration process and the number of questions new users are supposed to answer, it’s no wonder that all Shaadi profiles are very detailed. In fact, they give practically all the info you need to know about the person — except for one’s actual contact details. The latter ones are reserved for premium members and can only be shared with the account owner’s permission. As for the initial stages of online dating, you get pretty much everything you need to know — from actual age and education to dating preferences and Zodiac signs.
Next, Shaadi gives users a chance to create entire photo galleries — not unlike Facebook albums — to share them with all site members. If a user wants to have some of the photos reserved for paid members only, there is such an option. Users can edit their profile descriptions and photos any time they like, so it’s always possible to hide or, on the contrary, share some photos from your gallery.
One should note, however, that even despite complex verification process, users can still come across a fake profile now and then. Even though the site features verification icons on top of every profile, it’s still possible to come across fraudulent accounts. So, should users face any suspicious activity, they are strongly encouraged to report such issue to site management. In this case, the support will take extra time to determine if an account in question is a legit one. So, exercise some caution and always keep a clear head when using the service.
Design, usability, and mobile version
Shaadi design is thought-through and features a simple yet elegant two-colour theme. It’s easy to set this service apart from other dating websites. The site is easy to navigate; plus, as we’ve already mentioned, it’s highly informative. One gets a lot of insight about other users and, once you get a paid membership, you’ll have a chance to easily reach anyone you like. Besides, the site addresses the issue of slow Internet connection (which is sometimes the case in India), as most important elements are text-based. The only obvious drawback of Shaadi is the abundance of ads. What is even more annoying, getting a paid membership does not affect the issue — even premium users have to sift through the ads, which is unacceptable for many people.
As for Shaadi mobile version, it does not really bring anything new to the table. Shaadi app has pretty much the same features as the desktop version, except one minor addition — ‘surprise me’ tab that allows users to shake their phones and see random matches. As for the rest, the app works with simple and intuitive swipes and taps and offers all users a chance to chat with potential matches whenever or wherever they go — if they are premium members, of course. The app is available both on AppStore and Google Play and does not cost anything to download.
Membership Types and Prices
Shaadi has slightly complicated membership plans, subdivided into Gold, Gold Plus, Diamond, Diamond Plus, and Platinum Plus accounts. We won’t go into details of each plan, but the logic is pretty simple — the higher the membership, the more perks paid users can enjoy.
To recap, free users can:
- Fill in and edit their profiles
- Search through the user database
- See public photos from other users
- Show interest in other accounts
- Reply to messages from premium members
- Read through the site’s internal blog
Premium members can:
- Contact any other members via messages and chats
- Get real contact details of other users
- View hidden user photos
- Consult a relationship advisor
- Appear in top search results
- Be featured on other users’ homepages
The subscription is available for three or six months, and the cost ranges from $24.50 to $39.67 per month. The major difference between subscriptions types mentioned above is how many verified contact details users can access. The minimal amount is 75 and the maximum one — 300. Otherwise, most essential features remain unchanged. Also, there is a Platinum Plus subscription, available for a full year; it costs $22.42 per month and allows members to access 600 contacts, on top of being featured on other users’ homepages.
On the whole, such pricing policy is a bit higher than average in the market, but not exactly expensive. Users can pay with their credit and debit cards, PayPal accounts and cheques. In addition, you can ask for a full refund within 30 days of using the service — on condition that you showed interest in at least ten profiles but none of the users reciprocated.
Unique Services from Shaadi
Even though Shaadi’s fees are a bit above average, one thing is certain — they do invest a lot of effort into their website and offer members plenty of extra perks. Some of Shaadi services are usually off the menu on most other dating sites and apps, so slightly higher prices are justified. See for yourself:
This personalized match-making service offers users a chance to collaborate with a professional relationship advisor. Not only this person will give you customized tips on how to make the most of your online dating experience; s/he will also help you fill in your profile and consult you on any issues when it comes to choosing the best match.
If you are not yet ready to ask for professional help, you can make the most of smart search system — it allows users define 24+ search criteria and choose a couple of perfect matches out of millions of potential partners.
Live and TV streams
Another consulting feature that does not presuppose hiring an expert — a blog and a live TV. Here, all people looking for marriage partners can make a note of useful tips — not only when it comes to marriage and online dating but related to relationship advice, in general.
Who Viewed My Profile?
Another useful feature that shows you recent visits to your profile. Comes in very handy when you’re not ready to define 24+ search criteria and are open to more options when it comes to finding a partner.
All in all, Shaadi stands out from the competition when it comes to finding a marriage partner — provided you look for a partner of Indian descent.