If you’ve never seen Married at First Sight, the title lays out the premise of the show pretty well. Two strangers meet… at the altar… on their wedding day. Quality television ensues.
The show follows the newly married couples throughout the first few months of their marriage. What makes this premise more interesting is the fact that they are trying to get to know each other at the same time they’re adjusting to marriage. When they go on their honeymoon, they tend to only have known each other for a day or two. They are paired with their spouse for a reason, as experts in various fields do the choosing, which makes this show a bit of a social experiment.
With so much going on throughout the episodes, let’s learn more about Married at First Sight and all the things you may not know about the show.
Not just anyone can get on the show
Just because Married at First Sight is a reality show, that doesn’t mean just anyone can be on it. The vetting process for the show is pretty intense. As one of the experts on the show, Rachel DeAlto, described to ET Online, “Each candidate goes through a very thorough background check to determine if they have significant debts or any sort of criminal record.” And that’s not all.
The experts also take into account the moral values and mental state of the participants. One of the show’s counselors, Pastor Calvin Roberson, added, “We’re looking at things like their psychological testing, their core values. These are legally binding marriages. Annulment is not an option.”
Making a commitment as serious as marriage, these candidates need to be in it for the right reasons.
Why go on the show?
Because this marriage is the real deal, it’s a legitimate question to ask why candidates decide to go on the show. As a few described on The View, there can be many different reasons. As Monet Bell shared, “I wanted to get married. I’m at that place in my life.”
Another reason was the fear of missing out on an opportunity. Fellow candidate Cortney Carrion, said, “Well the opportunity presented itself, and I thought, ‘Why not?’ If I left the room and said no, I would always think, ‘What if?’ for the rest of my life, and I don’t want to have regrets.”
And for one, it came down to the experts and their knowledge. Jamie Otis described her reasoning, saying, “I really liked the experts. I liked the idea of having these four professionals, and they were so genuine and sincere… I’m definitely a bit of a commitment-phobe… the idea of having someone there to help us out.”
Thoughts while walking down the aisle
The big first moment on the show is when the bride walks down the aisle — when she and the groom see each other for the first time. Wouldn’t it be awesome to know what was going through their heads during that big moment? Luckily, the brides shared this information on The View, allowing us in on that special moment.
While Bell’s thoughts were very focused, saying, “Please don’t fall… don’t faint,” Otis’ were definitely more serious. She shared on The View, “When I was walking down the aisle, before I even went out there, I had this idea that I was so serious about this. I knew the experts were serious, and I just was quite naive in thinking, ‘Oh this will be fairytale-like and wonderful.’ And I walked down and everyone’s smiling at me, and I just wasn’t initially attracted to him, and I didn’t know anything about him other than the way he looked.”
Going back to normal life was a challenge
Being on a television show as a married couple is one thing, but when that couple has to go back to reality and live their normal lives, it’s not easy.
However, Danielle DeGroot from season 5 was able to put things in perspective and shared her thoughts on KISS FM Chicago (via YouTube).
Working as a dietician, DeGroot sees patients often. She spoke to this during the interview, saying, “I have patients that have a lot going on, you know, way bigger problems than anything that was going on at home. They have serious problems. So that would bring me back to, this isn’t that bad… you haven’t slept a little bit, but like get over it. And there’s a lot of good and cool things happening too.”
The experts are really there for the couples
The experts are visible throughout the show, not only choosing partners in the beginning, but also there for the marriage journey. But with this being a show, how much help are those experts really? Well, in this case, reality television is very real.
As Otis described to The Knot, “Not only did the experts find someone who I could fall in love with, but they helped guide me along the process.” Her husband, Doug Hehner, had only good things to say as well, sharing, “For me, it was the experts that sold me on the idea. I believed in them as professionals, and I trusted that they were taking this experiment seriously and wanted to find a real scientific match, not just two people that were going to make good TV.”
And as for after the show, does this couple plan to keep in touch with the experts? Definitely. Hehner said, “Even after the show, they’ve all reached out to us and let us know that they hope to always stay in touch. We have every intention on having them in our lives.”
Starting a family is on the brain
After getting married the first time they ever see their spouse, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these couples have pretty serious conversations about life plans pretty early in their marriage. As Ashley Petta and Anthony D’Amico from season 5 shared with The Knot, they knew the experts had matched them for a reason and knew family was very important to both of them.
So just days into meeting and saying “I do,” the couple was already discussing having kids. Petta addressed this during the interview, saying, “I know it seems weird that we are already talking about babies since we just met, but this isn’t just a first date. This is a marriage…. It was really important to me to find out what his thoughts on the topic were early on…. The experts knew how important starting a family was to me, so I was confident that they would match me with someone that wanted the same thing.”
Feelings definitely change throughout the journey
After getting married on day one, it’s hard to even imagine what big events come up next. Yet these couples now have the challenge of getting to know each other and whether they are a good match or not. Otis and Hehner continued to talk with The Knot about this process and how their emotions and attitudes shifted over time.
Otis said, “On our wedding day, I was certain I made the biggest mistake of my life. I was trying my best to be pleasant and friendly, meanwhile I was wondering why on earth I ever thought it’d be a good idea to marry a complete stranger.” Hehner shared similar thoughts on that first day, saying, “I think there was a lot of doubt in the beginning, and whether or not we were right for each other.”
But, then things began to change. Hehner continued, “Over that time, we’ve both fallen in love with one another, and the thought process changed from whether or not I could see myself spending the rest of my life with Jamie, to not being able to imagine spending the rest of my life with anyone other than Jamie and Lady (Jamie’s dog).”
Marrying a stranger had surprisingly easy moments
While marrying a stranger comes with a lot of baggage, some moments throughout this journey were surprisingly easy for the couple; even more surprising, those moments came sooner than expected.
As Shelia Downs from season 5 shared during an interview with KISS FM Chicago (via YouTube), “I would say the initial chemistry. I didn’t have to force it on my wedding day. Like I felt like I knew him and he was easy to be around.”
And as for Danielle DeGroot from that same season, she had similar sentiments. She said, “Easily the wedding. Our families all vibed.”
There are regrets
Living your life in front of the camera, while at the same time trying to get to know your new spouse, is not easy. Because of that, there are bound to be tough moments for the couples throughout the show.
One in particular came in season four, when husband Nick Pendergrast yelled at his wife Sonia Granados, during a heated argument. He opened up to The Knot about the incident and his regrets, saying, “I could only imagine how she [Granados] must have felt.”
It also didn’t help that there was a production crew and cameras there. Pendergrast explained, “The cameras always add to the stress when you’re on day six or seven in a row and it’s 1 a.m. But [the cameras] also forced us to face a lot up front and not put it on the back burner.”
The couples would do a few things differently
At any point in life it’s easy to have regrets, but for these couples, they are able to actually watch back film of how they acted throughout those first weeks of marriage. So would they do anything differently? Yes, a few things, actually.
As D’Amico from season 5 shared with KISS FM Chicago (via YouTube), “I would have tried to open up earlier…. I feel like a did but now looking back I feel like I didn’t.”
Cody Knapek from the same season shared his thoughts in the interview as well, saying, “I would have just chilled and had a better time. Marriage, the cameras, a stranger… you let all that stress get at you.”
Being in the spotlight isn’t easy
With the big argument between Pendergrast and Granados, it was also a reminder that many people are watching this all unfold on their televisions. Audience viewers can react how they want and say whatever comes to mind on social media.
Pendergrast found this out the hard way, sharing during his interview with The Knot, “It was a hard week for sure, and I tried to stay away from social media and focus on other things to distract myself from being sucked into reading comment after comment.”
And the situation taught him how he would handle social media and the spotlight in the future. He said, “I now entertain social media in a different light for sure! Not everyone is going to like you or view you how you want them to. I kept to the theme of wanting to be authentic, though, and the tweets, Instagram posts, etc. are really me and my thoughts and photos portraying my mood in that moment.”
Decision Day is challenging
The big moment arrives on Decision Day, when the couple decides if they want to stay together or divorce. It’s a huge decision that both parties need to support. So what goes through the mind of someone who has to make a such a big choice? A lot. Especially if there’s a rocky start to the relationship.
Neil Bowlus opened up to Us Magazine about his choice to divorce on Decision Day, saying, “I felt I was missing the ability to create a deeper, more intimate relationship. The first four weeks left an impression greater than I was aware of, and it prevented me from building anything more than friendship…. Nobody is at fault — it’s just the way things happened. We learn, grow and move on.”
He continued to reflect on his decision, saying, “After six months of discussing the events of Married at First Sight with professionals, I am in a comfortable place, and I appreciate and value our friendship. If I have learned one thing, it is yes, I will miss some things [from our time together].”
Life moves on after the show
After the big Decision Day, the viewer no longer sees the day-to-day of these couples, and life really does move on. Davina Kullar and Sean Varricchio from season 2 decided to get a divorce at the end of the show. Since then, Kullar has actually remarried, as she announced in a series of photos on Instagram.
As for Varricchio, he addressed his thoughts on Married at First Sight in July of 2016. He tweeted, “Since everyone keeps asking me I’ll answer. No I longer follow anything to do with MAFS. I have no ill feelings but I have moved on in life.”
What advice can be given to future couples?
Otis spoke with upfrontNY about her advice to anyone who goes on the show Married at First Sight. She said, “You REALLY have to know exactly what you want. You also have to know your own good and bad qualities — especially when talking with the experts. They pair you based on the information you give. If you’re telling them one thing when you really want another your match isn’t going to work. Also, you MUST be open. We all have flaws and that’s the greatest thing about MAFS — there are four experts who really want to help you.”
And she had one last important piece of advice as well, saying, “Lastly, patience is key. You’re not always going to be on the same page, especially for the first 6 months. Be patient with your spouse.”
All good advice for what seems to be the craziest adventure a couple can take.