By Eric Barton
City & Shore Magazine
Denise Stormont was on the sidelines of a polo match in Wellington when someone handed her a cell phone. With no warning, no idea who was on the call, she was soon talking to her future husband.
It turns out the guy on the phone, Peter Pry, also liked seeing live music, so they met for their first date at a bar in Delray Beach. The band, String Theory, was so good they hired them for their wedding three years later.
“The dating world is a scary place,” Stormont says. “Pete and I would not have come across each other just in our daily lives, so I owe it all to Sheryel.”
Actually, there are, give or take, a thousand couples who can say the same thing about Sheryel Aschfort. At least, that’s how many marriages Aschfort guesses she’s set up in the past 25 years.
Aschfort is a matchmaker. Or really, she doesn’t like that title, because she sees herself as a lot more than that. She considers herself something of a seer of setups.
“I kind of help people by understanding what they need and who they are, and usually it’s a lot better than they understand themselves,” Aschfort says. “I have a super power that I can tell who’s going to get married. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and say, ‘Oh, I have a perfect match for that one guy.’”
She took a circuitous route to the job. Growing up in Cincinnati, her parents both had their own businesses – mom in real estate and dad the owner of a janitorial services company. She says watching them taught her how to be a salesperson, which is why she did well working at gyms, her first career. (Coincidentally, she’s also a polo photographer, a business she started six years ago.)
In 1991, she was offered a job in something completely new, a dating service called South Florida Introductions. She developed a process: after meeting with clients for a couple of hours, she identifies their ideals and assigns them to one of her self-designed personality types. She matches people up when they have similar ideals; but for personalities, she says, often it’s good to match up opposites. Put two people who don’t like to try new things together and the relationship gets boring; combine two people who have no filter and things get weird.
She declines to say how much her services cost, but she has an answer for anyone who thinks it’s too much: “It’s so crazy how people spend so much on cars and trips and houses, but when it comes to the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, you spend $30 on some dating website.” There’s also her success rate: dating websites have less than a one-in-five success rate, she says, while hers is better than four out of five.
For Stormont, she was sure right from that first date that she had found the guy. “It was pretty much a quick thing for both of us,” she remembers. And they have a story to tell about that first phone call.
“Sheryel told me not to get off the phone until we had set a date,” she says. And so they did.
South Florida Introductions
4800 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, 561-393-6666, southfloridaintroductions.com