There's one big honker of a rule every contestant knows about before they sign up for Married At First Sight: You have to marry a complete stranger. But even before the wedding, couples have to follow a bunch of rules—and there are even more that come after. Here are all of the restrictions that are placed on the newlyweds while filming the reality show. Honestly, I'm surprised that any couples stay together in the end with these strict guidelines.
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You can't already be legally married.
Yep, your ring finger must be bare. Since the whole purpose of the show is to get hitched, you have to be single during the casting process. Gotta admit, this one makes a lot of sense.
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You have to be up for every aspect of the 'social experiment.'
In the first season of Married At First Sight, the concept wasn't revealed to prospective contestants until late into the interview process. At first, all that was shared about producer Chris Coelen's (the same mastermind behind Love Is Blind) project was that it was a social experiment for singles wanting to date.
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You have to meet the minimum age requirement.
This show isn't for the faint of heart, and it's geared towards people who are looking for a long-term commitment. That's why you must be at least 25 years old to apply.
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You have to live in the season's pre-determined city.
To make the couple's marriage as manageable as possible, the show picks a different city to focus on each season, so that newlyweds aren't starting off their marriage long distance.
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You have to apply online.
As the series has grown in popularity, people have become more and more interested in getting cast on the show. Now, all it takes is an online submission to find your soulmate.
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Or you can be scouted by a producer.
Once the location for the season is confirmed, producers spend months in advance scouting for prospective singles. The producers reach out to people via dating apps, social media, or in person at local bars in an attempt to find the best possible cast.
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You have to sit through hours of interviews.
If a singleton's application makes it past the first round, you're contacted to set up a phone or Skype interview before proceeding to the next round.
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You have to fill out a lengthy questionnaire.
Experts are able to match personality, psychical attraction, and emotional compatibility through a series of questions. "It was a 500 question questionnaire that goes through your likes, your dislikes, all the intricate pieces of information about you. Your religious views, your political views, what you find attractive, your sexual history, whether you are sexually active," former contestant Melissa Sherwood told Cosmopolitan UK.
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You have to be honest about previous relationships.
Part of the casting evaluation looks at the participant's past relationships. Whether or not you've had your heart broken, if you're open to love, and what your meaning of love is are all questions the counselors might ask.
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You have to undergo a background check.
"We do extensive background checks," the show's psychologist Jessica Griffin told the New York Post. After filtering for issues such as substance abuse problems and criminal histories, the experts start to look for less obvious red flags that someone isn't ready for marriage, such as not being able to talk about your feelings or say "I'm sorry."
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You have to take a psych evaluation.
Not only is your past up for examination, but your psyche as well. "We're looking at things like their psychological testing, their core values," one of the show's marriage counselors, Pastor Calvin Roberson, told ET.
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And your finances are investigated too.
To prevent anyone from being burdened with their spouse's debt, the show looks into the finances of each prospective MAFS participant before casting them.
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You don't get any say in who you're matched with.
Individuals on MAFS really put their faith in the experts and their scientific evaluations. Some of the quantifying methods they use include calculations like height and shoulder-to-hip ratio.
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It's okay if you've been on other reality TV shows.
Well, within reason. Jamie Otis previously looked for love The Bachelor and Bachelor Pad. However, serial reality fame hunters are deemed a "red flag" by the relationship experts. "If their profile said they had applied for Big Brother or MasterChef, we put them to the side," expert Sabina Read told news.com.au.
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You have to act natural in front of the cameras.
It's hard, but important. "Having cameras in front of you everyday for eight weeks can be a little crazy at times," contestant Anthony D'Amico told Mike Staff Productions. "Ashley told me after filming one day that I was way more affectionate after the cameras were turned off."
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You have to get married...at first sight.
Once you're cast, the big rule comes into play. And, yes, the couples on Married At First Sight enter a *legally* binding union at the ceremony and everything that comes with it.
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You can't know who you're marrying before the ceremony.
During an interview with TheWrap, Coelen revealed how the producers juggle the legal paperwork required for a wedding, while keeping the matches a secret. It turns out, each person provides their individual information and the marriage license is signed after the ceremony takes place.
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You get to go on a honeymoon.
The honeymoon is super important for MAFS couples. Production sends them on an all-inclusive trip to help them get to know one another before returning home and starting their lives together.
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You don't know where your honeymoon is going to be.
The couples put a lot of faith in MAFS producers. Not only do they pick their spouses and plan their weddings, but they also keep the honeymoon plans a secret until their first day of marriage. So. Many. Surprises.
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After getting cast, social media is off-limits.
To keep contestants from finding each other online and interacting off camera, their social media accounts are hidden before the show starts filming and even afterward for a period of time—because who likes spoilers?
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Phones are confiscated during filming.
On some of the show's international franchises, such as Married At First Sight Australia, contestants have their phones confiscated while filming.
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You can't work full-time while filming.
Making an arranged marriage work takes...well, work. That's why the couples on the show have to take a leave of absence from their jobs, or even quit, to film.
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You can't be all about the money.
Can you really put a price on true love? The show's casting panel is very weary of people looking for a payout or their 15 minutes of fame, which is why the main motivator of those who are chosen isn't typically monetary.
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But you do get a small sum of money.
For many reality shows, there is some sort of monetary incentive, and Married At First Sight is no different. The couples receive a small stipend while they are filming. "They receive a stipend—essentially a per diem since we often film 50 to 60 hours a week with them," a source close to the show told Women's Health.
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Production covers some other costs as well.
Like, say, the wedding—and the divorce, for some couples. "You have to let producers know when you want a divorce—budget was already set aside for it," Sherwood told Cosmopolitan UK.
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You have to be able to support yourself.
Like I said, the couples only receive a small stipend, according to Coelen. Generally, the couples still have to cover their cost of living during filming.
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You get some say in the wedding planning—but not much.
The bride and groom both submit their preferences for elements of the wedding like flowers, music, and food to the producers, who then plan the wedding on their behalf.
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You're only allowed to invite a small guest list.
According to former MAFS contestant Clark James, only 40 people in total can attend. "I was only allowed to invite 20 people. It definitely caused some friction with some of the family members!" he told Cosmopolitan UK.
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Everyone at the wedding has to sign an NDA.
To keep all of the season's secrets from leaking before they air, the couple's wedding guests have to sign non-disclosure agreements. Good luck explaining that to Grandma!
Do the couples on Married at First Sight really get married? No, the weddings are not legally binding. Unlike the US version of the show, the couples simply make a promise to their partners to stay together, and are not actually married.
The contestants who appear on the show do get paid for their participation. While there is no prize for staying married at the end of the series, the contestants do get paid daily. But exactly how much do they get? Former contestant Nasser Sultan told Now to Love: "You get $150 for the day, that's it.
The American version of 'Married at First Sight' is completely unscripted and the most honest of all the versions. Because the American version of the Lifetime love series was first, they wanted to make sure they were being true to the title, so participants do get legally married after never meeting one another.
Jamie Otis and Doug Hehner were among the first cohort of couples to tie the knot during season one of "Married at First Sight" in 2014. The two have since renewed their vows and have a daughter together, Henley Grace Hehner.