The Scoop: Denise Levy, BSW, started out her career as a social worker but found her calling as a matchmaker and dating coach in 1996. Today, she owns and operates MatchMaker Gulf Coast as well as a private coaching firm in Destin, Florida. Her personalized matchmaking services have led to countless relationships and marriages, and she has established herself as a trustworthy, honest, and empathetic voice in the dating industry. Whether she’s inspiring up-and-coming dating professionals or introducing future couples, Denise gives her all to making the world a happier and more loving place.
Denise Levy has worked as a life coach, matchmaker, and philanthropist for over 20 years now. She has spent her career witnessing touching love stories, and she often tacks up the pictures and wedding invitations her former clients send her. You can see this impressive collection on the wall of her waiting room in Destin, Florida.
Typically, this wall of successes makes new clients smile and feel hopeful, but one older woman took one look and burst into tears. Denise came out of her office in dismay, wondering what was going on. The woman was crying inconsolably and pointing to a wedding invitation on the wall.
After a little while, the woman’s story came out. She had been one of Denise’s clients years ago and had met her spouse thanks to an introduction. The wedding invitation was theirs. Why did that make her cry? Because her husband had died exactly one year earlier. The woman said she had purposefully waited a year before returning to Denise’s matchmaking firm for a second chance at love. Her story touched Denise’s heart, and the matchmaker took her back as a client.
Over a decade ago, Denise founded MatchMaker Gulf Coast to come to the aid of singles who need some guidance on the way to love. She prides herself on offering high-integrity matchmaking services that work. She arranges first dates, hosts philanthropic events, conducts coaching sessions, and shares her insights in hopes of bringing people just a little closer to their happily ever afters.
Her candid and compassionate demeanor is like a breath of fresh air to singles and couples. “Sometimes people just need someone to hold a mirror up and ask them what they can do to be more authentic and attractive,” Denise said. “I teach singles to become more authentic daters, and my success rate is high because they know I care.”
Denise graduated from the University of West Florida in 1994 with a degree in social work and later earned her certification as a life coach and professional matchmaker.
Though Denise transitioned from social work to the dating industry, she continues to use her training in human behavior in her work today. Denise is a proud member of the National Association of Social Workers and is on the Board of Directors for the National Alliance on Mental Illness for the local Emerald Coast. She has also hosted many charitable events on the Gulf Coast.
“Giving is my nature. Helping others is my nature,” she said. “To be able to make a difference and do what I love to do is the most amazing feeling in the world.”
Skillfully Matching Couples Since 1996
Denise’s career in the dating industry began in 1996 with a newspaper ad. She saw that a company was seeking a professional matchmaker, and she thought that could be a fun temporary gig. But then she fell in love with the profession. Throughout her career as a social worker, Denise had felt motivated to help other people find happiness, and matchmaking and coaching gave her an opportunity to do just that.
Today, she works closely with singles in one-hour coaching and matchmaking consultations. She told us that 80% of her clients start out with dating coaching for at least six weeks before switching over to matchmaking services. That way, they feel prepared to make a good impression and build a strong emotional connection with the dates they meet.
Denise puts her clients through a thorough personality examination — she administers at least five assessments during the onboarding process — so that she gets to know their character, interests, goals, and personality quirks.
Most of Denise’s clients are busy professionals in their 40s or 50s, but she has also seen singles as young as 21 and as old as 88. Her direct and compassionate dating advice can help daters of all ages discover what they’re doing wrong and what they can do to change. Denise said she does everything she can to support singles on the way to love, but it’s ultimately up to them to make a relationship work.
“As a matchmaker, I want to see people find their happily ever afters,” she said, “but that’s not my responsibility. My responsibility is to get them a first date. As their coach, I like to teach them relationship-building tools and skills to help them get into the relationships they desire. It is up to the client to put it all into play.”
Denise doesn’t make grandiose promises to her clients — in fact, she tells her clients to be leery of any matchmaker or dating coach who offers guarantees. Matchmakers can introduce singles to worthwhile date candidates, but they do not possess supernatural powers to make true love materialize in a few weeks or even a few months.
“We’re dealing with emotions and human beings,” Denise said reasonably. “It’s just not fair to make promises when so much is out of your hands.”
A Trained Leader Running Couples Workshops
In addition to her certification as a Life Coach and Cognitive Behavioral Practitioner, Denise is a Trained Gottman Leader who is well-versed in the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work program. She offers the insights from this program to her clients in couples workshops for up to eight couples at a time.
The weekend is structured so couples listen to a lecture and then apply its lesson in 20-minute exercises they do on their own. They do not have to do these exercises in front of other participants, and they do not share their progress, which helps couples experiencing conflict maintain their privacy.
“There’s no public sharing. You don’t have to air your dirty laundry,” Denise assured us. “The weekend is designed to give you tools in your toolbox to help you through love, life, and the things that matter.”
Of course, these days not all her coaching and training sessions take place in person. The internet has allowed her to branch out and build online support groups and other resources where she can share virtual lessons with clients, readers, and listeners. Denise told us that adding video coaching sessions to her repertoire has opened up her coaching business tremendously in the last few years and allowed her to reach more people with an empowering message.
Another upside of video coaching is that she can do it from anywhere. She and her husband are looking into relocating to the Caribbean in the next few years, and the ability to stay in touch with her clients while living abroad appeals to Denise.
Business Coaching for Experts in the Dating Industry
Denise lives by a simple coaching philosophy: If you put in the time and energy, and surround yourself with well-qualified experts, you will reach your goals. She maintains that the power to change your life is always in your hands, and she is only there to be a cheerleader, a truth teller, a sounding board, and a diehard supporter.
Denise’s private coaching business requires a minimum three-month commitment because she expects a lot from her clients. She wants to make sure they are as invested in her as she is in them. She conducts weekly sessions to hold singles accountable and inspire them to move forward after a breakup, a divorce, a toxic relationship, or a dating rut.
“Through her positive, gentle, and honest approach, she helped me to close the door to the past so that I could open the door to my future,” said one divorcée in a testimonial. This single woman from Niceville got married after working with Denise. “When I did meet Mr. Right, she even helped navigate me through the dating processes with him,” the former client said.
Denise told us she loves teaching others and watching her clients reach their potential. Her passion led her to expand from dating coaching services into business coaching services. This service caters to matchmakers, life coaches, and other professionals who want to follow in Denise’s footsteps and launch a successful and trustworthy business. She uses live video sessions to reach people all around the world.
In a one-hour strategy session, Denise addresses issues that affect dating professionals — such as advertising restrictions on Facebook and Google — and offers solutions to build a client base and grow a small business. She also conducts sales training that focuses on the persuasive power of just being yourself and letting your authenticity and authority sell your products for you.
“Because I’ve been around so long in the industry, everyone knows me and trusts my advice,” she said. “My reputation speaks for itself.”
Denise Levy Built Her Reputation by Caring About People
When Denise started out as a matchmaker nearly 23 years ago, she kept track of how many of her clients got into relationships, got engaged, got married, and had babies, but now she has long since lost count. Her impact on people’s lives goes far beyond those statistics anyway.
Denise has cultivated a reputation as an upstanding matchmaker and dating coach who will tell her clients the truth in a caring manner. Her wisdom and positivity have been a comfort to many men and women struggling in the dating scene. Whether she’s teaching couples how to reconnect with one another or helping a widow find love again, Denise’s compassionate support is a gift to everyone who has the pleasure of working with her.
The Gulf Coach Matchmaker leads by example in the dating industry, and she isn’t shy about sharing her trade secrets with others in the business.
“I want people in the dating industry to be more empathetic and caring,” she told us. “I want to show that matchmakers don’t need a lot of sales tactics because singles just want someone they can trust and feel comfortable around. That’s the most important thing.”
Photo Credits: Dave Dexter of Dex Design Photography and Natalie Jennifer Buchholz of British Touch Photography