Usually a professional matchmaker is called a shadchan, but anyone who makes a shidduch is considered the shadchan for it.
The number of dates prior to announcing an engagement may vary by community. In stricter communities, the couple may decide a few days after originally meeting with each other.
Also the age when shidduchim start may vary by community.
However, when Eliezer proposes to take Rebekah back to Isaac in Canaan, he is told by Rebekah's family: "Let us ask the maiden" (i.e., Rebekah).
This is taken as an instruction for Jewish parents to weigh their child's opinion in the balance during an arranged marriage.
In recent years, a number of shidduchim sites have appeared on the Internet.
The prospective partners either date each other or in stricter communities they go to a "bashow" or sit in.
A shidduch often begins with a recommendation from family members, friends or others who see matchmaking as a mitzvah, or commandment.
Some engage in it as a profession and charge a fee for their services.
After a short prayer to God for guidance, describing how a virtuous woman might act toward a traveling stranger at the well, Rebekah appeared on the scene and did everything described in Eliezer's prayer.