Former Married at First Sight star Chanita Stephenson knows exactly what it’s like to say ‘I do’ to someone you’ve never met before.
Now, the 30-year-old is giving her take on the latest season in an exclusive column for OK!. From the obvious, such as brides, grooms and weddings, to something a little bit juicier, like couple-swapping and wildcard contestants, Chanita is set to give the lowdown on the 2023 series, and speak from experience.
In her first week, the star – who was paired up with Jordan Emmett-Connelly last year – chats about first impressions, who’s likely to be a dark horse, and who new constant Laura reminds her of from last year…
A difficult watch
I was really excited to tune in to the new series of MAFS, but I'll also be honest and admit that I was nervous too. I didn't watch the Australian one as I felt like it would bring back too many feelings and memories for me, but seeing the UK one last night I felt sort of healed.
Don't get me wrong, throughout the entire episode I kept putting myself in the new brides' shoes – even things like when they were getting ready for the wedding, I was thinking 'That's where I was the morning before the wedding.'
I remember being so calm while I was getting ready but then when the doors opened at the venue, that's when the nerves came flooding in. I imagine that's what this years' brides will be going through too. The thing that goes through your head constantly is 'What if they don't like me, or what if I don't like them' – it's such a surreal moment.
It was nice to be able to watch it though, especially now I'm at peace with my own experience.
Plans to view
I'm also going to make sure I tune in every night rather than trying to play catch up – I'll feel like I'm missing out on far too much if I don't. I also don't want to be caught out with any spoilers and I love seeing reactions on social media (now that I'm not on the show, of course).
I also chose to watch it alone. I was in two minds about whether to invite the girls over but I felt like this was something I should experience myself to realise how far I've come since my time on it. I messaged the group chat the entire time though, obviously.
I'll be honest, I felt like we hardly got to know the contestants last night. Even at the hen and stag dos, we never really got an insight into who everyone is.
That being said though, I absolutely loved Jay and Luke's wedding, it was so lovely. I have so much respect for Jay and her outlook on life is amazing, she seems really down to earth. I'm rooting for them at the moment.
But there was one thing that really stood out to me – last night's episode was really giving me flashbacks of Jordan and I, then Whitney and Duka's wedding.
Jay and Luke were very much like Jordan and I in the beginning, the way they hit it off instantly. Then, when Laura walked in I just burst out laughing. She gave traits of Whitney and Sophie merged into one, I think.
She gave the business side that Sophie has, and then the fact she's very open about what she wants reminds me of Whitney.
No episode of MAFS would be complete without a few shockers, and Laura and Arthur's vows were definitely that.
I couldn't believe it when she said, "Maybe you're the light at the end of my tunnel, I just hope you're not a train," in her vows… but then the ending of his weren't much better.
I actually gasped when he told her that he loved her, literally five minutes after meeting her. I can't believe his friends didn't convince him to take that bit out.
But even his vows in the first place that were revealed to be off Google, I thought he could at least change a few words and put a little bit of effort in. I'd definitely be annoyed about that.
Excited for what's to come
When it comes to other contestants, I really like Ella and her story. I think it's great that the show have branched out in that respect and made sure this series is even more diverse.
What I really respected as well is that she didn't tell the brides her personal story before chatting to her new groom. She seems like a good person.
And I know we only caught a glimpse of Tasha but she reminds me of myself a little because she loves to talk. I think she might be a bit vocal in this season.
It's hard to tell in the first episode though… just wait until that dreaded honesty box comes out or even worse – when people start swapping couples.
Spill the beans
One thing that really made me laugh was the hen night, especially when they were all doing shots. There's no way alcohol was in that glass, we filmed ours using water.
It's funny though because the way it's shown on screens, it's as if the wedding day is the next morning but there's a decent amount of time in between. It's filmed about a week before anyone walks down the aisle. You're always split off from the grooms beforehand, so there won't ever be a chance of meeting before the big day. Even the hen and stag dos take place in different ends of London.
Then, when it comes to the weddings just like on the show, there will be two weddings taking place per day.
Piece of advice
If I was to give any advice though, speaking from experience, it would just be yourself and be authentic. You also need to give it your all. You've signed up for the experiment at the end of the day, so try and get the most out of it.
It's hard at times but most things are in life. I signed up looking for a husband and even though I didn't find one in the end, I did make some really good friends and lasting memories. You also learn so much about yourself along the way.
Married at First Sight continues on E4 at 9pm, Monday to Friday
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