How 'Married at First Sight' Works

Updated on March 5, 2020
revmjm profile image

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes about various things, including celebrities and entertainment.

"Married at First Sight" Season 10 Couples
"Married at First Sight" Season 10 Couples | Source

Married at First Sight is a television series where couples have been matched by experts to get married when they first meet at the altar. That's why the show is called Married at First Sight. Couples don't know who they are marrying until minutes before they say, "I do."

Even though it is a reality show, it is described as a social experiment. Couples meet, marry, go on a honeymoon and live together for eight weeks before deciding if they want to stay married or get a divorce.

About the Series

Married at First Sight is patterned after the Danish television series. The show is televised in 18 international countries. Season 1 aired in the United States from 2014-16 on the FYI network. Season 2 aired at the same time on FYI and its sister network A&E. Since 2017, the reality series has been televised on Lifetime. The series is now in its tenth season that premiered on January 1, 2020 with couples from the Washington, DC area. It is a very popular show that has been renewed for Season 11.

All the weddings for Season 10 were taped in August 2019. What fans see is not in real-time. The events happened long ago and things have changed considerably since they got married. That might mean some of the couples are no longer together when we watch it on television.

The couples are matched from different cities each season. Three couples from New York were matched on Season 1 by four experts. For the first three seasons, there were four experts that included clinical psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona, sexologist Dr. Logan Levkoff, sociologist Dr. Pepper Schwartz, and humanist chaplain Greg Epstein.

Starting with the fourth season, there were only three experts including Dr. Schwartz, pastor and marriage counselor Calvin Roberson, and communication and relationship expert Rachel DeAlto. Dr. Schwartz is the only original expert who is still with the series now in its tenth season.

There have been four different relationship experts over the ten seasons as seen in the chart below. For some reason, the relationship experts don't stay in that position for long. During Season 5-8, Dr. Jessica Griffin was the advisor for a couple whose marriage didn't work out. She left the series and is now engaged to an ex-husband from Season 8, her last season on the show.

The Experts

Dr. Pepper Schwartz
Dr. Joseph Cilona
Clinical psychologist
Dr. Logan Levkoff
Greg Epstein
Humanist Chaplin
Rachel DeAlto
Communication and Relationship Expert
Pastor Calvin Roberson
Pastor and Marriage Counselor
Dr. Jessica Griffin
Relationship Advisor
Dr. Viviana Coles
Relationship and Sex Expert

The Application Process

Before any matches are made, a city is selected. The decision for the city is not taken lightly. Officials spend at least six months in a particular city before it is selected. The cities selected have been in the following order over ten seasons.

  1. New York City and Northern New Jersey
  2. New York City and Northern New Jersey
  3. Atlanta, Georgia
  4. Miami and South Florida
  5. Chicago, Illinois
  6. Boston, Massachusetts
  7. Dallas, Texas
  8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  9. Chicago, North Carolina
  10. Washington, DC area (including Maryland)
  11. New Orleans, Louisiana has been selected for the upcoming season.

After the city has been selected, singles are recruited. The production crew goes to popular places in the selected city where singles usually go such as nightclubs, churches, beaches, gyms, health clubs and sporting events. The crew also goes on all the dating apps to look for potential matches. Staffers check all the social media sites for singles who might be ideal for the show.

The show gets over 65,000 applicants for each season. The applications are narrowed down to 100-200 people who could be a good fit for the experiment. In order to reduce the number, applicants must attend gender-specific workshops that are set up that way to prevent potential matches from seeing each other before the wedding ceremony.

After the workshops, singles who haven't dropped out by this time are interviewed by the experts. They complete psychological evaluations, and their backgrounds must be checked to find out if anything is in their past that might prevent them from being matched.

The singles who have made it so far through the hoops are visited at their homes by Dr. Pepper Schwartz, the sociologist. Viewers have seen Dr. Pepper go through cabinets, closets, refrigerators, nightstands, and bathrooms. She does that to get an idea of how the person lives and to see how organized the single person is. Once she found that a woman keeps her shoes neatly placed in the bottom drawer of a kitchen cabinet where most people store their pots and pans.

Dr. Pepper and the other experts say they are looking for singles who will listen and are open to the coaching the experts provide. They are also looking for people who are warm, friendly, empathetic and compassionate. They try to keep those away who want to go on the show for fame or for reasons other than to build a lasting relationship with their spouse.

Decision Day

Over the first nine seasons since 2014, 29 couples have been married at first sight. Out of the 29 couples, 19 chose to stay married on Decision Day after the eight-week time period ended. In Season 3 and Season 9, two brides wanted to stay married, but their husbands wanted a divorce. In cases where there is a split decision with one spouse wanting to stay married and the other spouse wanting to divorce, then the couple must divorce.

On Decision Day, some couples might say they want to stay married. By the time the series airs the reunion with all the couples, some who said they would stay married have changed their minds and decided to divorce after all. It is rare for a couple to reconsider and agree to stay married after previously deciding to divorce.

All the brides and grooms sign a prenup that protects their assets in case their marriage doesn't last. That's a good move because there have been more divorces than successful marriages on Married at First Sight.

To date, only eight couples are still married. The overall success rate of the marriages is extremely low with just 27.6 percent of the couple choosing to stay married. Out of the eight couples, four of them have already had children. All of them are girls.

Ashley and Anthony, Season 5
Ashley and Anthony, Season 5 | Source

Which Couples Are Still Married?

Couples Still Married
Jamie Otis and Doug Hehner
daughter Henley Grace, 2 miscarriages
Ashley Petta and Anthony D'Amico
daughter Mila Rose
Shawniece Jackson and Jephte Pierre
daughter Laura Denise
Danielle Bergman-Dodd and Bobby Dodd
daughter Olivia Nicole
Stephanie Sersen and AJ Vollmoeller
None yet
Kristine Killingsworth and Keith Dewar
None yet
Elizabeth Bice and Jamie Thompson
None yet
Deonna McNeill and Gregory Okotie
None yet
As you can see from the above chart, there were some seasons when no one agreed to stay married.

Do the Couples Get Paid?

Yes, the couples get paid. After all, they are away from their jobs most of the time for three months. Some of them arrange their schedule so they can work and tape the show at the same time. So, how much do they get paid?

Radar Online reported that the cast usually receives $15,000 each for their participation during the first two seasons. The show’s popularity has grown rapidly. By Season 3, participants were reportedly earning between $20,000 and $25,000 per season. All wardrobe, hair and makeup expenses are at their own expense as well as their own food.

Besides money, couples receive some major perks. Their wedding ceremony, reception, and honeymoon are paid for by the show. That includes wedding gowns, tuxedos, and the cake and food at the reception. The show used to send couples to different exotic places on their honeymoon. Now they all go to the same place and stay in the same hotel.

Up through Season 9, the married couples had to find and pay for their own place and living expenses. Some of them chose to stay at either the bride or groom's place. On Season 10, the show put all the couples in the same neutral apartment complex.

What is really interesting is that if the couple decides to get a divorce, the producers will cover some of the costs if the divorce is in a reasonable time after the show ends.


Married at First Sight has had seven spinoffs over the years:

  1. Married at First Sight: The First Year
  2. Married Life
  3. Married at First Sight: Second Chances
  4. Jamie and Doug Plus One
  5. Married at First Sight: Honeymoon Island
  6. Married at First Sight: Happily Ever After
  7. Married at First Sight: Couples Couch

Did you find out anything about "Married at First Sight" that you did not know before?

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    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      4 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Lee, they were married for five years and recently divorced. She moved to North Carolina to be with her family and Jason stayed in the New York area.

    • profile image


      4 months ago

      I didn't know Cortney and Jason weren't still together


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