Viewers of Married at First Sight watched in equal awe and horror as an unlucky-in-love woman who got a string of proposals from her exes has finally walked down the aisle – to marry a man she’d never met.
Stephanie, 32, a police officer, from Epsom, Surrey, jokingly referred to herself as a ‘training bra for men’ thanks to a string of failed relationships and broken engagements.
But she finally got to say ‘I do’ after undertaking vigorous psychological and scientific tests in the new series of Married at First Sight in a quest to find her ideal man.
She was paired with Ben, 36, a hopeless romantic – who just happened to be a property millionaire – desperate to find ‘the one’.
The couple had instant chemistry putting on an affectionate display at the reception, with Stephanie admitting she was ‘taken aback’ by their connection.
But while some viewers were ’emotional’ over the couple’s union others were baffled at the programme’s concept describing it as ‘awkward and cringe’.
Stephanie, 32, and Ben, 36, get married in the first episode of Channel 4’s Married at First Sight, despite never having met before
Stephanie had been single for a year before she took part in the experiment, and was on the brink of marriage in her last relationship.
She admitted to being engaged ‘more than once’, and had kept a couple of her old engagement rings, though she wouldn’t say how many fiances she’d had.
She said: ‘It’s become pretty much a running joke with my friends that I tend to get that close and not actually make it.’
Psycho-sexual therapist and psychologist Jo Coker paired her together with Ben because of their extroverted personalities and shared desire to finally find the one.
The police officer had been unlucky-in-love and actually been engaged a few times but never made it down the aisle, and when she did it was with a man she had never met
Ben, a quantity surveyor, had been single for eight months and was desperate to find someone to enjoy his millions with
Many viewers admitted to struggling with the show’s concept, at a loss as to why you would apply
Jo explained: ‘She’s a real bubbly of life, she calls herself a training bra for men because she kind of brings them along and off they go.’
Stephanie revealed her hopes of looking like a princess on the day of her wedding, as her big sister Mel supported her through the journey.
The siblings had lost their mother ten years previously, and revealed that they thought getting married quickly ran in the family after their parents fell in love and wed within three months.
Meanwhile others admitted that the programme was something of a guilty pleasure for them
The pair undertook six weeks of vigorous testing, where scientists, psychologists and sex and relationship experts tested everything from their morals to their future plans
They also gave hair samples, height measurements and even had the size of their ring fingers recorded
Others said that they found the episode a struggle to watch describing it as ‘cringey’
Quantity surveyor Ben had been single for eight months before the wedding day and has spent the last five years building a family home to raise a family in.
The millionaire lives in his own mansion, drives a flash car and has a £20,000 suit collection, but felt the only thing missing in his life was a partner.
He said: ‘I’ve done well for myself. I’ve got everything but what’s the point in having everything if you can’t share it with someone?’
Ben was so certain about taking part in the marriage he revealed a tattoo of the wedding date on his wrist.
He said: ‘I’m that committed to this relationship that I ended up getting a tattoo of mine and Stephanie’s wedding date. I wear my heart on my sleeve and that is how committed I am.’
The rest of the series will follow the couple as they live their day-to-day lives as newlyweds
A select few were left highly emotional by the union, filled with praise for the unusual show
He also joked that he was nervous ahead of the big night following the vows, promising to be ‘respectful’ of Stephanie’s wishes on consummating the marriage the first day they meet.
‘I am very nervous, let’s be respectful, we’ve got our whole lives together.’
A team of experts spent six weeks learning everything they could about 4,000 singletons to see if they could make the perfect marriage from data alone.
THE GRUELLING MATCH-MAKING PROCESS FOR MAFS
Married At First Sight receives 1,000s of applications which makes the match-making process a complicated one.
A team of experts – including evolutionary anthropologist Anna Machin, psycho-sexual therapist and psychologist Jo Coker, psychology professor Dr Mark Coulson and priest Reverend Nick Devenish – work as a team to pair up people best suited to one another.
In order to establish their varying personalities, likes and dislikes and morals candidates go through a series of hurdles so that they can be best placed.
Those applying to the show are subjected to workshops, interviews, background checks, various tests and personality questionnaires (some of which can take over 12 hours to complete).
Eventually the panel narrows the selection down to 15 candidates with just six paired up with ‘dealbreakers’ such as smoking used to cut out potential suitors.
The volunteers were quizzed on everything from their morals to their future plans, and gave hair samples, height measurements and even had the size of their ring fingers taken down.
In the end a team of psychologists, scientists and sex and relationship experts chose pairs who they thought would work based on their data.
And the experiment appears to have been a success for Ben and Stephanie, as the pair had instant chemistry.
But, while many viewers claimed to find the scenes touching an equal amount found the concept far-fetched.
Taking to Twitter one wrote: ‘I’m sorry but U find this show so cringe and sad’.
‘Married At First Sight… what a ridiculous concept and why do people apply?!’ said another.
However, others admitted that the show was something of a guilty pleasure for them.
One Tweeter said: ‘I love and hate Married At First Sight all at the same time.’
Agreeing another added: ‘this programme makes me so conflicted’.
The moment Ben laid eyes on his wife-to-be his jaw dropped in amazement, mouthing ‘oh my god’ as Stephanie walked down the aisle towards him.
She was thrilled when he winked at her, and as she reached him the pair both began laughing giddily before embracing each other for the first time.
Ben was equally pleased telling Stephanie: ‘You look beautiful, you look amazing, stunning… Shall we hold hands?’
The pair sealed their vows with a kiss on the lips and took the time to say a proper hello in a small room in the church.
She eyed up his tattoos and mocked his snake skin shoes, and gave her new husband a lingering kiss when he showed her the date of their big day inked already on his wrist.
After they spent the evening with their family and friends the pair reconvened, with Stephanie admitting she felt like Ben was an old friend she was ‘catching up with’.
The couple were only told each other’s names before they met at the altar, and didn’t know what the other person looked like
Stephanie was walked down the aisle by her sister who had been a mother figure to her since their own mum died over 10 years ago
The pair had an instant connection and couldn’t stop kissing at the reception after their nupitals
Ben’s father Graham was opposed to the wedding, and told him that he didn’t think it was ‘right’ to marry a stranger
Ben said: ‘She’s a live wire, she’s awesome. I thought ”Blooming heck, there’s actually someone as mad as me.”’
The rest of the series will follow the couple as they attempt to live as a married couple, documenting their day-to-day lives after the fairytale wedding.
There already looked like there might be trouble ahead for Ben as his father Graham admitted he didn’t want his son to go through with the wedding.
Graham said: ‘You might match scientifically but what does that prove? I think you’re making a little bit of a mistake.
‘I don’t think it’s right what you’re doing I’m going to stand by that.’
Married at First Sight starts tonight at 9pm on Channel 4
And the not so happily ever afters: Where are the Married at First Sight couples now?
JASON AND KATE
Jason Knowles and Kate Stewart appeared in the first series of Channel 4’s controversial matchmaking series.
In the season finale it was revealed that the couple had split after the groom signed up to online dating service Tinder.
Jason and Kate split after it was revealed that the groom had signed up to dating app Tinder
He revealed the couple never consummated the relationship and said: ‘It’s a very personal question but I’ll be straight with you, nothing happened.’
While it is not possible to get a divorce within a year of marriage, if the union is not consummated, it can be annulled at any point after the wedding.
SAM AND JACK
Sam McDonald, 30, and former para-trooper Jack Finn-Kelcey initially found love depsite the fact that they didn’t marry.
Sam and Jack never made it down the aisle, they did enjoy a few months dating but also eventually parted
Sam quit the show but eventually the pair met and fell for each other organically.
However, just a few months later the couple were reported to have split. Jack said at the time: ‘We broke up. Rather unexpected and a bit sad but there you go.’
EMMA AND JAMES
Emma Rathbone and James Ord-Hume were the longest lasting couple of the first series of Married at First Sight – however, they too ended in divorce.
Events organiser Emma, 32, and 33-year-old James, a university administrator split after nine months of marriage in December 2015.
Emma and James were the longest lasting couple of series one, however, after nine months of marriage they divorced
Neither found the other attractive at first sight — ‘We have some work to do in that area’ was how Emma tactfully put it on camera — and it seems that however much they tried, that spark never came.
‘Look, we had a sex life,’ says Emma. ‘It just wasn’t always top of the agenda as it would be for most newlyweds, put it that way. I had feelings for James, but we weren’t passionate about each other.’
Since then they have met once at an ‘awkward’ lunch, where they returned a few belongings they had left at each other’s flats. ‘I don’t think either of us was really sure how to behave,’ says James.
CAROLINE AND ADAM
Caroline and Adam were the success story of series two but she later revealed on Instagram that their marriage has not worked out.
Caroline and Adam were the longest lasting couple from series two but they too parted ways with the bride selling her dress online
An eagle-eyed fan noticed the pair were not ringing the New Year in together and when asked if they had split, Caroline simply replied: ‘Yes we did.’
The flame-haired operations co-ordinator even put her Vera Wang wedding dress up for sale online for £850, including dry cleaning.
LUCIE AND STEVE
Viewers were left cringing at the awkward post-wedding conversation between the bride and groom with the couple discussing Game of Thrones to fill the award silence.
Lucie and Steve had a very short lived marriage of just six weeks before splitting
The couple were only able to withstand the lacklustre relationship for a grand total of six weeks.
Despite going their separate ways the pair are said to have remained friends, occasionally meeting for a coffee.
MELISSA AND CLARK
Clark and Melissa quickly became fan favourites following their appearance in Married at First Sight’s second series.
Fan favourites Melissa and Clark gave their marriage a good go, but despite their efforts chose to go their separate ways
The comitted groom even showed his commitment to his mystery bride by making the move from London to Milton Keynes.
However, despite fans’ pleas for the couple to stay married the relationship deterioated and the pair split after five months of marriage.
SARA AND ADAM
Although their big day was relatively drama-free this couple got off to a rocky start during their honeymoon.
Sara and Adam’s wedding went well but the honeymoon was less successful and the pair parted after three months
Sara was left fuming after Adam got a little carried away with the wine and he received some stern words.
While it may not have been the best start, eight weeks into the relationship Sara moved in to Adam’s flat in the hope to give their marriage a go.
However, it wasn’t to be and a month later the couple split though admitted that they hadn’t regretted the process and remain friends.