Three beautiful brides prepared to walk down the aisle and into the arms of their waiting grooms. Everything was perfect--the dresses, the flowers, the champagne--but there was just one catch.
These brides and grooms were about to marry someone they had never met – total strangers.
This strange social experiment was played out on the reality TV show, “Married at First Sight,” where six brave souls allowed four self-proclaimed “relationship experts” find their “perfect match.”
Five weeks after the wedding, the couples were given the option to stay married or get divorced, and in fact two of the three couples are still together today. They are now part of a spin-off show showcasing their first year of marriage called “Married at First Sight: The First Year.”
On their big day, 32-year-old Doug Hehner and 28-year-old Jamie Otis were not seeing eye-to-eye. Otis actually sobbed the whole way down the aisle.
“I couldn’t even think straight. I couldn't stop crying,” she said. “Most women, their wedding day is the best day of their life, mine was probably the worst day of my life.”
And things weren't easy at first.
“We were married like two weeks and he lied to me about something really, really silly,” Jamie said. “He used to smoke and then he had a cigarette and he said he didn’t.”
It was a small marital spat, but for Jamie, it brought forth deep trust issues rooted in her from a tough childhood.
“For me it was like two weeks in you’re lying about that, what are you going to lie about a year later?” she said.
Lucky for them, the show provided experts who helped them sort out their differences. The couple was also able to go back and watch footage of themselves from the show to analyze how they reacted to a certain situation.
“One part of the relationship is you learn how to argue and how to talk when you’re upset and how someone will receive what you’re saying and how you say it,” Hehner said. “We’re very lucky we have a chance to speak to the experts.”
So the two decided to tough it out and move into a new apartment together in New Jersey, hoping they would fall in love.
“I was still 50/50 and ... it's got to be hard to hear, ‘I'm not in love with you,’” Otis said. “And he's like 'we've been married for -- have you ever been in love with someone in a month?' He was like 'give it time.’”
Unlike Otis and Hehner’s rocky start, Cortney Hendrix and Jason Carrion, both 27, said they felt an instant connection when they met. They said they had a blast at their wedding, and throughout the first few weeks of marriage.
“We played a lot of 20 Questions,” Hendrix said. “We stayed up a lot like talking and didn’t sleep a lot and that’s really how we got to know each other.”
But married life soon became very real for the aspiring make-up artist from North Carolina and her Brooklyn firefighter husband. They stressed out over setting up their apartment and getting organized. Things reached a boiling point when Hendrix lost her job, so they called in the experts to help work things out. Ultimately it was a family tragedy -- Carrion losing his mother to lung cancer -- that brought them together.
“If it wasn’t for Cortney, I would just, I don’t know what stage I would be in, as far as the mindset would go,” Carrion said. “She was there when I had to go through things I didn’t want to go through, she was there.”
For Jamie Otis and Doug Hehner, love did eventually blossom. Their marriage is going so well that she’s talking about having kids.
“I think it was a build-up for me,” Otis said. “There was a lot of small experiences where I just learned that I could trust him like I knew, he would show me he respected me.”
Both couples now say they can’t imagine life without each other.
“There's a difference between what you need and what you want,” Hendrix said. “And sometimes, maybe we didn't know what we needed.”