Married at First Sight is a popular reality TV show that first aired in 2014. The show follows several couples who agree to marry the moment they first meet. After the altar, the couples are sent on a honeymoon before moving in together for 8 weeks as the cameras document their experience. One of the most frequently asked questions by viewers is who pays for the couple’s living accommodations while filming the show.
The Experts Match the Couples
On Married at First Sight, three relationship experts match complete strangers who have agreed to get married when they first meet at the altar. The experts who pair up the couples are clinical psychologist Dr. Pepper Schwartz, sociologist Dr. Viviana Coles, and marriage counselor Pastor Calvin Roberson.
The matchmaking experts consider each individual’s wants, needs, and personality traits to find their most compatible match within the pool of participants. Their goal is to create marriages they believe could work long-term after the experiment ends. So far, some of their matches have resulted in lasting marriages, while others ended in divorce after the cameras stopped rolling.
The Couples Don’t Know Each Other at All
A major part of the show’s concept is that the couples have not had any interaction with each other until they meet for the first time at their wedding ceremony. They count on the experts to match them with someone they are truly compatible with.
The participants do not get to see a photo or profile of their future spouse. And the two individuals do not meet or speak before getting married in front of family and friends. So it is a true leap of faith when they say “I do” to a complete stranger matched for them by the experts.
They Go On a Honeymoon
After the weddings, the newly married couples head off on a honeymoon at a romantic destination. This is when they go away together for the first time to begin getting to know each other. It is like a typical honeymoon except their relationship is just getting started.
Some couples use the honeymoon to open up and establish an emotional connection. Others use the time to start assessing whether they can see a future with their new spouse based on first impressions. The couples share hotel rooms together and are filmed engaging in activities and conversations.
The Couples Move in Together
When they return from their honeymoon, it’s time for the married couples to move in together and begin daily domestic life as spouses. This is when the true experiment begins. The couples must figure out how to combine their lives and adapt to each other’s habits and quirks.
They live together for approximately eight weeks while being filmed around the clock, including when they are eating, sleeping, working, socializing, and running errands. The couples are matched in the same general geographic area so that their commute to work does not have to change during the experiment.
No One Knows the Apartment Location
The exact location of the apartments is not made public. The couples are seen coming and going from nondescript buildings. And when they are inside, there are no distinguishing features visible. The apartment interiors appear to be furnished by the show.
Not revealing the apartment locations helps maintain the privacy and safety of the cast members while filming. It prevents fans from showing up and disrupting production. And it protects the couples from being harassed during an already challenging and vulnerable experience.
The Show Provides the Apartments
Married at First Sight supplies and pays for the apartments that the couples live in temporarily during the filming period. They are not using their own homes or paying rent and utilities.
The apartments are fully furnished and equipped with everything the couples will need while the cameras are rolling. Food, toiletries, and other household items are provided by the show so the couples do not have to go shopping.
When filming finishes, the couples return to their own separate living situations. If they choose to stay married, that is when they begin combining their homes and finances for real.
Why the Show Provides Accommodations
There are several reasons why Married at First Sight takes care of the housing.
- It prevents financial stress. The couples do not know each other well enough to already be comfortable sharing bills.
- The filming schedule is very demanding. Contestants need to focus on their new marriage.
- The couples may not be convenient to each other until they commit to stay married.
- An unfamiliar, neutral environment encourages bonding between strangers.
- The decor of the apartments can be controlled for continuity.
The Couples Sometimes Have Roommates
Since there are usually three to five couples each season, it would be unrealistic for the show to rent that many individual apartments in the same area. To save money on accommodations, some of the couples are required to be roommates with another pair.
The couples still have their own bedrooms and bathrooms for total privacy. But they share common spaces like the kitchen, living room, and laundry room. Having roommates adds extra social dynamics and tension between the newlyweds navigating their marriages.
Rent and Utilities Cost Thousands per Month
While Married at First Sight handles the housing costs, the apartments provided to the couples are still worth thousands of dollars while filming is taking place.
According to RentCafe, the average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in the United States as of October 2022 is $1,822 per month. And the average monthly utilities total around $200.
So assuming at least three apartments are required for about eight weeks, the show would be spending $12,754 on rent alone. And then another $1,400 for utilities. That’s over $14,000 spent putting up the couples during filming.
|Total for 8 weeks
|Rent for 3 apartments
|Total accommodation costs
And that’s a conservative estimate. The costs could easily be even higher depending on the area, size of the apartments, and how long filming takes.
Furnishing and Decor Also Cost Money
In addition to supplying the apartments, Married at First Sight has to fully furnish them so they are move-in ready for the newlyweds. This includes things like:
- Tables and chairs
- Kitchen appliances
- Cookware and dishes
- Towels and linens
- Bathroom essentials
- Home decor
Either the show rents the furniture or purchases items they can reuse season after season. They also have to decorate each apartment in advance and make any needed repairs or upgrades for filming.
How Does the Show Afford the Housing Costs?
All of the expenses associated with providing the fully furnished, equipped apartments come out of the show’s production budget. Here’s how Married at First Sight is able to cover the substantial housing costs each season:
Per Episode Budget
Reality shows have much lower production costs than scripted dramas and comedies. Married at First Sight films on a relatively small scale within limited locations. And there is no need to pay writers, actors, and extras.
Sources estimate Married at First Sight has a per-episode budget between $500,000 to $750,000. With 10-17 episodes per season, that adds up to $5-12.75 million total that can be used flexibly.
Product Placement Fees
Production commonly makes money by featuring real brands, products, and businesses. For example, past episodes have shown couples shopping at stores like Sur La Table and visiting destinations like the Atlantis resort.
These companies pay substantial fees to the show in exchange for the exposure, which helps offset filming costs.
Reduced Housing Expenses
Since Married at First Sight handles booking accommodations, they likely get discounted rental rates at affiliated properties that benefit from the publicity. This allows more room in the budget to furnish and decorate the apartments.
As an original program on HGTV, the popular cable network covers expenses and invests considerable funds into producing Married at First Sight each season.
HGTV profits from advertising revenue during episodes, which helps fund production costs like housing for filming.
Contestants Don’t Get Paid
The men and women appearing on Married at First Sight do not earn a salary or receive prize money from the show. Compensation comes in the form of the free wedding, rings, honeymoon, apartment, and other perks provided during filming.
So the newlyweds themselves do not have to put any money toward housing or other expenses out of pocket during the experiment. And anything paid for can be seen as an offset for taking time off work and normal life to participate.
Couples Relocate After Final Decision
When filming wraps up and it’s time for the couples to make their final choice whether to stay together or get divorced, their time living together in the show’s apartments also ends. \
If a couple chooses to remain married, that is when they begin searching for a new home together and combining their finances for real. They may have to compromise on location based on their jobs.
And the couples who opt for divorce immediately go back to living separately until the divorce finalizes. Any shared bills received during the experiment would be split 50/50.
Living together is a key part of the Married at First Sight process. But it’s not without substantial costs to provide accommodations for several newlywed couples each season. The show covers all housing expenses as part of the overall production budget funded through episode fees from HGTV, advertising, sponsorship deals, and more.
Contestants are not responsible for rent, utilities, or furnishings during filming. But they also do not get paid directly for participating aside from the free wedding, honeymoon, and other perks received. When the experiment ends and the cameras stop rolling, the couples go their separate ways and resume financial independence unless they mutually decide to stay married.