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