The art of the set-up is a tricky process. If you’ve watched one take place, you probably saw emotions ranging from acute awkwardness to utter obliviousness. Every so often it goes great though, like the family friends of mine who are now married after being invited to lunch and then left a while to change a light bulb together.

Recently I’ve heard about a few set-ups which all seem to have failed due to silly mistakes on the part of a well-meaning matchmaker. So after some thought and discussion with friends, I thought I’d write some tips for getting it right. I can’t guarantee the success of the match but I can at least assure a non-embarrassing and friendly aftermath.

Make sure you know both candidates. This may seem simple and juvenile, but I have heard horror stories! A friend of mine, really down-to-earth, lovely, and mature, was set up with a guy who looked like he fell out of an RNB video clip. Bling and indoor sunglasses included. Needless to say, her match-making friend apologized profusely, having only heard of the guy before setting them up.


Take some time to think about it. Really think about it. Would these two people get along? What do they have in common? Do they have similar goals in life? Similar values and beliefs? Would their families get along?

Tell the guy, don’t tell the girl. Firstly, it is completely uncomfortable for the woman being set up if the guy is just not interested! Let’s not be dragging ladies through the mud here. Even worse, if he’s really interested but happens to be the scariest man she’s ever seen.

If you do think they’d hit it off, introduce them at a low-pressure setting like evening drinks or a house party. Getting them to meet alone for the first time creates an unnecessary amount or stress and expectation.

Work from the guy’s reaction. If he’s not interested, no-one knows any better. And if he is, he can do the work from that point anyway, in terms of getting her contact details and organizing to see her again. (And you can tell her that it was all thanks to you at the happy couple’s wedding).

For extra flair, perhaps it would be smart to clue in a couple of cluey friends. In that way, if you’re accosted by a particularly chatty type, they can help you out – by making sure they’re properly introduced, to steering the conversation, and so on.

There you have it! Happy match-making!

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.