Workaholic who hadn't been on a date for five years weds a total STRANGER on Married At First Sight to 'ease her anxiety' over being left on the shelf
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- A pair of workaholics who put off settling down for their careers got married
- But the pair were complete strangers who met for the first time at the altar
- Financial advisor Harriet, 32, hadn't had a partner for five years because of work
- Her new husband Richard, 28, worked anti-social hours as a police sergeant
Like many young professionals, Harriet and Richard were faced with a choice between pursuing a high-flying career or settling down young.
However after years of working long hours, a string of failed relationships and botched attempts at online dating, they found themselves worrying about whether they'd left it too late to find the one.
Deciding to take drastic action, Harriet, a financial adviser and Richard, a police sergeant, opted to sign up to Channel 4's Married at First Sight and wed a complete stranger that they only met for the first time at the altar.
The Channel 4 show sees the couple wed in a romantic ceremony at Gibson Hall in London after undergoing vigorous scientific testing to find their ideal spouse.
The couple looked awkward as they spent their first moments together, both as man and wife and total strangers, but their chemistry became clear thanks to a hilarious speech at the reception and a few tender moments.
Harriet, 32, had longed to find the one after long hours at her London-based job stopped her from having a regular dating life, and had been single for five years.
She said: 'After five years on my own I do worry about finding the person I'm going to be with. I look at my friends settling down and I just think ''Why haven't I got that yet? And when is it going to happen?'''
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She'd said that when she went to weddings family members would ask when it would be her turn, and she was tired of telling them she was single.
Experts including a sex expert and a vicar paired her up with Richard, 28, who works anti-social hours including nights and weekends as a police sergeant.
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 psycho-sexual therapist and psychologist Jo Coker, biological anthropologist Dr Jake Dunn, registrar Cynthia Green, and clinical psychologist Martin Hald – 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.
He'd had five serious relationships and signed up to a dozen dating websites, but had no luck finding the right partner to settle into his hectic life.
Richard explained: 'We work strange hours, we work evenings and weekends and it does have an impact on relationships but I'm definitely a romantic. The sort of love I'm looking for is the sunshine, the rainbows, the kind of skipping down the street at the end of the movie.'
THE PREPARATIONS FOR THE BIG DAY
Experts matched them together because of their desire to settle down quickly and their similar work ethic.
They were given six weeks to prepare for their wedding, buying a wedding dress, suits and rings without knowing any more than their future spouse's name.
Showing off his romantic side, Richard decided to make Harriet's wedding ring by hand as a symbol of his commitment to the process.
When it came to their wedding day at Gibson Hall in London the pair were feeling the nerves, as a giggly Harriet walked down the aisle.
The crowd laughed as she failed to contain her giggles and gave Richard an awkward hello as she joined him at the altar.
Without another word the pair exchanged their vows and became man and wife, but didn't seal their union with a kiss on the lips - Richard awkwardly touched his head against hers.
After the ceremony they were given their first few moments together as a couple but an overwhelmed Harriet could only say 'oh my god' as they left the busy chapel.
Speaking to the camera afterwards, she admitted she was pleased with her new husband, saying: 'He seems really lovely and kind… I have a really good feeling about it.'
Richard was equally impressed, saying: 'First impressions are really good she's really traditionally pretty, and she's really nice, she's got great sense of humour.'
He tried to ease her nerves making joked about his name, referring to himself as "Dick".
At the reception Richard tried to win over the couple's doubters by giving a very crude speech about their union.
He joked that he was using the 'draft' version of the words that he'd written before he met Harriet's parents Robin and Janet and found out their names.
He said: 'I'd like to thank Montgomery and Shaniqua... I can only imagine what you went through when Harriet said she was going to marry someone that called himself Dick, but having narrowly avoided having to do CPR when I told my own parents I've got a pretty good idea.'
Both of their parents had been unsure about the experiment, with Richard's father Tony saying the legality of the marriage concerned him because if they split, the couple will have to divorce.
Harriet's dad Robin was also doubtful, but was excited to see how the match would work in practise, admitting: 'It isn't exactly what I would have thought of or dreamt of in my wildest, dreams but I think it is exciting and I'm looking forward to it.'
Richard's reception speech appeared to win over the parents and helped to ease Harriet's nerves, before the copper became more sentimental with his words.
He went on: 'Thank you for taking part in this experiment and thank you for marrying me this afternoon. You've shown what an incredible person you are. You're brave and open minded, and optimistic.'
The couple had their first dance to Marry You by Bruno Mars and let loose on the dancefloor as they became more comfortable with each other, and they finally shared their first kiss to the sound of applause from their families.
Despite her earlier nerves, Harriet said she was glad she decided to wed a total stranger.
She explained: 'All my anxiety is gone now and that's got to be a good thing. It's nuts, I didn't think I was going to get married, definitely didn't think I'd marry someone I'd never met, and now I have a ring of my finger.'
Harriet had admitted that she wasn't sure about having sex with Richard on their wedding night, saying she'd wait until they got to the bedroom to decide if she'd go through with it.
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.
Married at First Sight continues on Thursday 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.