How Married At First Sight Changed And You Didn't Notice

The premise of Married at First Sightthe Lifetime docuseries, has remained the same ever since its July 2014 premiere. The idea is simple: Attractive singles marry a stranger at the altar and go on to discover if their new union could be the happily-ever-after they've always wanted. 

However, according to Deadlinethe extreme social experiment has grown massively in popularity and viewership since its debut — and so has the drama. Of course, it's only natural, considering the high-profile nature of the show, its stress-inducing plot, and the added pressure to keep things fresh each season. As fans of the show know, a major Season 11 storyline saw two "strangers" tie the knot, only for it to later be revealed that they'd met prior to appearing on the show (via Distractify). So much for "first sight!" 

Despite staying mostly true to its name and documenting the married lives of dozens of perfect strangers, the series has gone through some obvious and not-so obvious changes over the years — some of which even the most loyal fans may not have even noticed. Keep reading to find out how Married at First Sight has changed through the years.

Married at First Sight wasn't always on Lifetime

Once upon a time, Married at First Sight lived in a land called FYI — which is a basic cable channel owned by A&E Networks. Thus, the show wasn't always a Lifetime staple, as noted by Deadline

In fact, it wasn't until A&E Networks' FYI decided to simulcast Married at First Sight, which is based on a Danish show, that the show ultimately made the move over to Lifetime. And according to the New York Post, the move was a smart one, seeing as the show ranked as the network's top series for three years, starting in 2017. 

If you're a fan of the series, you'll be happy to know it doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. The show's 11th season, which premiered in 2020, was reported as averaging "1.7 million viewers," according to Entertainment Weekly. And as EW reported, Lifetime ordered six more seasons for the franchise, giving fans up to a whopping 17 seasons of wedded (or not-so wedded) bliss. That's certainly more commitment than some of the Married at First Sight couples know how to handle.

Married at First Sight hasn't always had the same relationship expert panel

Every season, Married at First Sight introduces fans to new sets of couples. However, the show has also introduced new relationship experts along the way, though the change hasn't always been obvious to viewers. 

When Married at First Sight first premiered in 2014, it featured a somewhat different panel of experts, including Dr. Logan Levkoff, a sexologist, Dr. Joe Cilona, a psychologist, chaplain Greg Epstein, and sociologist Pepper Schwartz (better known as simply Dr. Pepper). However, as the seasons progressed, the panel was gradually whittled down to three — Dr. Pepper, pastor Calvin Roberson, and relationship expert Rachel DeAlto

DeAlto was later replaced by a psychologist, Dr. Jessica Griffin. That said, both DeAlto and Griffin sport blonde hair, so for viewers who only tuned in every now and then, the change might not have been noticeable. Dr. Griffin was a regular until she developed a serious relationship with season six cast member Jon Francetic. According to the New York Post, she was then replaced by couples' therapist Viviana Coles, who sat on the Season 11 panel alongside Roberson and Dr. Pepper.

The number of Married at First Sight couples per season has grown

Lifetime's Married at First Sight is raising the stakes and giving more single men and women a chance at finding their perfect match by legally marrying more and more couples every season. While only three couples were matched during the first season of Married at First Sight, Season 11 saw a total of five couples taking a leap of faith on national TV. We bet you didn't notice that!

It wasn't until Season 10 that the popular franchise decided to feature five couples simultaneously, according to Deadline. Before that change, three couples were featured during Seasons 1 through 7, with four couples being featured in Seasons 8 and 9. More Married at First Sight couples undoubtedly equals more drama, which is probably what keeps viewers' eyes glued to the TV every week. 

The decision to add more couples may also help increase the chances of the newlyweds staying together once the recorded eight-week social experiment is over and decision day arrives. However, while Season 10 of Married at First Sight featured five Washington, D.C., couples, only one stuck together (via the New York Post).

Married at First Sight episodes have gotten longer

Married at First Sight has added more drama and more minutes to each episode.

As more couples tie the knot every season, it's only natural that the episodes have become longer in order to accurately portray every marriage. The need for longer episodes became especially apparent in Season 10, when the Lifetime series started featuring five couples per season. As a result, episodes started capping at two hours long (via Deadline). However, this was a pretty significant increase from the series' original hour-long time slot, which was increased to 90 minutes only a couple of seasons prior to hitting the two-hour mark. 

Two hours may seem too long to some viewers — after all, that's the length of a feature film! However, for viewers who are also fans of The Bachelor, two hours is nothing — especially when you consider that episodes of the popular ABC franchise can sometimes go on for a whopping three hours.

Married at First Sight cast members know what they're getting themselves into

Married at First Sight's couples didn't always know the kind of show they were signing up for. 

Of course, that's hard to believe now, as most everyone has either watched or heard of the show that weds strangers at the altar. So, the out-of-luck singles who appear on the show have a pretty good idea of what they're getting themselves into. However, when the docuseries premiered in 2014, no one had a clue what the show was about — and producers were tight-lipped when it came to sharing too many details prior to narrowing the list of potential singles to 100 (via Reality Blurred).

"We pretty much told them everything except for the fact that they would meet their husband or wife at the altar and see them for the very first time there," Chris Coelen, the show's executive producer, told Reality Blurred in a 2014 interview. Coelen continued, saying, "We didn't want to tell people what the show was about [...] We wanted to find people who were serious about wanting to be in a relationship." Added the producer, "We wanted [the show] to work." And work, it did!

Married at First Sight changes cities every season

If Married at First Sight viewers really pay attention, they might notice that a change of scenery comes with each new season. 

As noted by E! News, the first season of the show was filmed in New York City's tri-state area; however, the cameras didn't stay there for long. Future seasons of Married at First Sight were filmed in different cities across the U.S., including Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami, among others (via Reality Blurred). Season 11, for instance, was filmed in New Orleans

Of course, this is why every couple matched on Married at First Sight happens to live in the same city. This has been a hard rule since Season 1, according to the show's producer, Chris Coelen, who told Reality Blurred the rule was meant "to give the relationships the best shot of working." He added that this process "would be unrealistic" for long-distance couples, especially given the fact that the show's newlyweds already have enough stressors to deal with — including moving in with a complete stranger and ultimately deciding whether or not they want to spend forever with them.

Married at First Sight couples didn't always interact with each other

When Married at First Sight premiered in 2014, the newlywed couples were encouraged to stay away from other couples and nurture their own relationships. However, during Season 6, something changed, and the couples started meeting up for organized group hangouts (via E! News).

These hangouts weren't necessarily set up to cause more drama, though producers likely knew drama would eventually happen. "In the spirit of authenticity, these people all live in the same city, and they are obviously super curious to know, and I'm sure left to their own devices they would find out who the other people are," the show's producer, Chris Coelen, told E! News. He continued, saying, "So why not embrace that [and] let them support each other?" 

Dr. Pepper Schwartz, one of the show's relationship experts, told E! News that Married at First Sight isn't a "static show," which allows it to change and evolve with the times. By creating a community between the couples, marriages and friendships blossomed — as evidenced by Season 10 star Mindy Shiben, who found a sisterhood with the rest of the female cast after her divorce from Zach Justice.

Married at First Sight honeymoons are more of a group affair

In the Married at First Sight universe, even honeymoons are a group activity — but it hasn't always been this way. 

In earlier seasons, Married at First Sight couples were sent to different romantic destinations, as seen on Season 5 of the show, (via InTouch Weekly). Fast-forward to Season 8, and the couples could be seen staying at the same resort in the same country, and even had scheduled group hangouts during private couple time. As fans now know, this group honeymoon format would continue throughout future seasons. 

During the honeymoon episode in Season 8, Pastor Calvin Roberson, the show's marriage counselor, explained to viewers the reasoning behind the switch. "Bringing our couples together during their honeymoon is a means for support so that when the going gets tough our couples can lean on each other," he said. Of course, bringing the couples together also resulted in more fun. During one of the nights on the honeymoon, all four couples were entertained by traditional Costa Rica dancers before sharing their unorthodox experiences over dinner and drinks.

The Married at First Sight cast has become slightly more diverse

From the beginning, Married at First Sight was always on the cutting edge of reality TV diversity by including at least one couple of color per season. And when the series expanded its couple's count, that number went up to two. However, according to Married at First Sight alum Jamie Otis, there's still room for improvement as far as the show's diversity is concerned. 

In an interview with Fox News, the former contestant said, "I'm not going to lie, I have definitely chatted with the production company about why do we not have older couples and why don't we have same-sex or more interracial couples." As some fans may know, the Australian version of Married at First Sight featured a same-sex marriage (via Entertainment Tonight). 

Pastor Calvin Roberson, one of the show's relationship experts, told MadameNoire in 2018 that the show's lack of diversity comes down to logistics. According to Roberson, it's tough casting same-sex couples when potential singles are separated by gender during the casting process, which could make seeing each other prematurely nearly unavoidable.

There weren't always so many Married at First Sight spinoffs

Lifetime's Married at First Sight — like ABC's popular reality series, The Bachelor — has changed the game and kept things fresh and exciting through the years by introducing a bevy of franchise staples.

First came Married at First Sight, then came marriage, and then came a barrage of spinoffs (via Deadline). Since Married at First Sight's 2014 debut, the franchise has expanded to include Married at First Sight: Couples Cam, Marrying Millions, Married at First Sight: AustraliaMarried at First Sight: Happily Ever After?, and Married at First Sight: Honeymoon Island. The latter of those shows premiered in 2018 and, according to People, put 16 love-hungry singles together on an exotic island — which gives us total Bachelor in Paradise vibes.

Married at First Sight has never been more popular, and according to Deadline, yet another spinoff is in the works. As noted by DeadlineMarried at First Sight: Unmatchables will match several singles who weren't chosen for the original series and give them a second chance at finding love on national TV. 

Married at First Sight has started allowing couples to film themselves

Married at First Sight is a reality show – and what's more "real" in this day and age than people filming themselves? 

Married at First Sight couples have been known to self document moments they have away from the camera crew, and those moments are often used as footage and included in episodes throughout the season. However, the innocent idea has since proven to be the launching pad for an entirely new kind of show. In 2020, Lifetime decided to give former couples a platform to document their lives and marriages sans camera crew on a show called Married at First Sight: Couples' Cam

Married at First Sight Season 5 couple Anthony D'Amico and Ashley Petta immediately got in on the action, and in a season trailer for Couples Cam, they can be seen hilariously trying to find a missing puzzle piece while quarantining at home. Lo and behold, the puzzle crisis was averted when they found the missing puzzle piece in the wash. It's safe to say viewers probably wouldn't have seen that in a normal Married at First Sight episode.

Married at First Sight didn't always give couples a chance to recommit before decision day

Married at First Sight couples in seasons past were required to remain in their marriage for eight weeks — or, the length of the on-camera social experiment — until the much-anticipated decision day, where they ultimately decided whether or not they wanted to stay in the marriage. However, that hasn't necessarily been the case in the series' later seasons. 

For the first time in Married at First Sight history, Season 9 couples were given an option to recommit or get out during the halfway mark of the eight-week period. "We don't want them staying in marriages that [are] toxic or have no potential for love just because of the experiment," Pastor Calvin Roberson explained to viewers during the recommitment episode.

In the episode, which has been included in each season since its introduction, the show's relationship experts sit down with each individual member of the cast to find out what is and isn't working in their marriages — ultimately giving them all a chance to make a decision on whether or not they want to stay together.

Married at First Sight home visits by Dr. Pepper are more "intrusive"

Married at First Sight fans are familiar with Dr. Pepper Schwartz's home visits. However, throughout the years, these visits to cast members' homes have grown more intrusive.

Once the honeymoon is over, couples must face reality and move in together. Of course, there are exceptions. As noted by Distractify, contestant Zach Justice made the decision to live apart from his new wife, Mindy Shiben, throughout the length of their short marriage. Typically, however, couples live together for the entirety of the eight weeks (via E! News).

Dr. Pepper told E! News that she conducts home visits of every cast member before matching potential couples; however, the expert admitted the visits have become "much more intrusive" as the seasons have gone by — though she didn't elaborate as to how. In a Season 8 episode, Dr. Pepper said she was "very interested in pictures," as they told her a lot about contestants' lifestyles, but also about "their friendships and how they feel about their family." So, whatever she's doing these days is clearly more intrusive than looking through scrapbooks.

Married at First Sight's vetting process has become more thorough

As Married at First Sight has become more sophisticated over the years, so has its vetting process. 

The Lifetime series has always vetted potential cast members by including "in-depth psychological and background evaluations" and, for top candidates, a home visit from Dr. Pepper Schwartz (via E! News). However, the vetting process has gotten even more complex as the show's popularity has increased.

According to Dr. Pepper, Married at First Sight started conducting interviews with friends and family members of potential cast members early on in the vetting process so they could better find a person's perfect match. These interviews included "a lot more interactive exercises," according to the expert. As Dr. Pepper explained to E! News, they even asked candidates to bring in photos of their exes or people they found attractive in hopes of matching them better. "We really wanted to know in their history, not just what they found attractive, but who did we really date, who did we really see?" Dr. Pepper told E! News. Hey, if it leads to lasting love, an in-depth vetting process is certainly worth the hassle!