Marrying someone you have never met before sounds like an express ride to wedded woe.
That may be why Channel 4’s Married at First Sight attracts two million viewers thinking: “This can’t work, can it?”
We went behind the scenes to meet two couples taking part in the new series.
And, as most people suspect, it doesn’t add up to four dreams come true.
Jack and Verity
He hoped for an athletic Russian ice queen. She wanted tall, dark and handsome.
So 5ft 4in brunette Verity and 5ft 5ins Jack don’t seem to be each other’s dream match.
Office manager Verity, from Norwich, says: “The show’s always fascinated me. This year I thought I’m prepared to take the risk – it’s my last resort to be honest.”
“I’m not worried no one has stayed together yet – it must work at some point.”
As TV workers put the finishing touches to her dress and hair in the country hotel venue, she tells me: “I’m scared he’s not going to turn up. I keep thinking something is going to go wrong .
“I can’t imagine what the feeling is going to be when I see him. I hope it’s relief.”
In another room, Jack, 25, takes Dutch courage with a shot. “I don’t know her and I’m marrying her,” he says. “I feel sick.”
“I’ve always gone for the wrong person before,” says Jack, single for a year. “My parents think I’m bonkers. I saw my mum earlier and as she looked at me she said: ‘You can still run.’”
But he’s just as keen to make a go of it: “I’m going to beat the statistic that no one stays together. This could be the one.”
Moments before the ceremony, nervous Jack and his relatives take glugs from a hip flask.
“Is that her?” guests whisper. Jack turns and smiles… at a bridesmaid walking down the aisle.
Verity enters in 1920s-style wedding dress. At first glance they’re like chalk and cheese.
He is confident, smiling and joking. She is shy and doesn’t like all eyes on her. “You all right?” Jack mutters.
Guests chuckle at the two-word introduction for man and wife. Even Verity has a giggling fit. Jack stumbles over his vows and has to repeat them. After confetti and photos we catch up in a gazebo.
Verity says: “It was so quick and now you’re here and now you’re my husband.”
Jack says: “I thought she looked lovely and I told her she looked lovely at the aisle.”
Verity’s giggles are back but she manages to say: “My first thought was he’s here – and he’s not minging. He’ll do.”
Jonathan and Stephanie
Stephanie dreams of a mix of movie hardman Tom Hardy and Idiot Abroad Karl Pilkington. Jonathan, 35, doesn’t own a TV so he won’t know what he’s up against, and is something of a surprising recruit for the show.
As he slips in to his suit, relaxed Jonathan says: “If this can’t work with so much preparation matching us, what can?”
Revealingly, he adds: “Today is all about the attractiveness – that’s my biggest worry.”
As she has her hair and make-up done, nurse Stephanie, from Somerset, tells me: “Everyone is expecting me to feel very nervous but I’m not at all.
“I got out of a serious relationship three years ago. But where I live there’s no one left.
“I thought I’d do it this way and let someone else do the hard bit by choosing them.”
Stephanie is led up the aisle by her gay best friends Dan, 33, and Ralph, 32, to Stephanie, whose best man is woman friend Nicole.
Man and wife smile politely and say their vows with ease.
Guests remark how well-suited they look. Afterwards Stephanie seems shy as she talks and admits she is relieved it’s over.
She says: “When I first saw him I thought ‘Oh, he’s smiling,’ which is a good sign. It’s felt very natural and normal throughout.”
Jonathan says: “I felt the same as Steph. Everyone in the room was holding their breath then let go when Steph walked in. I spoke to Steph’s mother and that put me at ease.”
But he adds: “It’s a bit of a circus. There are 40 people downstairs going to speak to us in a minute so we’re looking forward to spending time together.
“We’ve just met each other so we can’t make any judgments yet on whether we’re going to work.”
But best man Dan is confident: “We aren’t used to seeing her with someone like him looks-wise. Her other boyfriends had beards, tattoos, piercings…
“It’s nice to see two personalities gel quickly.”
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