'Married at First Sight' premieres with: Katie Conrad having second thoughts about marrying Derek Sherman after ex-boyfriend wants her back
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/02/2020
Married at First Sight's tenth season premiered with wedding dress shopping, bachelorette and bachelor parties, and Katie Conrad having doubts about marrying a stranger after her ex-boyfriend came back into the picture and professed his love during Wednesday night's two-hour episode on Lifetime.
A record-breaking five pairs of strangers were matched by returning Married at First Sight experts Dr. Pepper Schwartz, Pastor Calvin Roberson, and Dr. Viviana Coles for Season 10 of the Lifetime reality series.
Katie, a 25-year-old mental health professional from Woodbridge, VA, was matched to marry Derek Sherman, a 26-year-old cyber security engineer from Maryland.
Jessica Studer, a 31-year-old nurse manager from Oak Harbor, OH, was paired with Austin Hurd, a 31-year-old network technician from Maryland.
Taylor Dunklin, a 27-year-old research scientist from Pittsburgh, PA, was matched with Brandon Reid, a 34-year-old sales manager originally from the U.S. Virgin Islands who was raised in Washington, D.C.
Mindy Shiben, a 34-year-old figure skating coach from Frederick, MD, was selected as the wife to Zach Justice, a 32-year-old fitness professional from St. Mary's, GA.
And Meka Jones, a 25-year-old category analyst from Baltimore, MD, was set to wed Michael Watson, a 31-year-old education director from Washington, D.C.
Viewers were first introduced to Taylor and Brandon, who had to break the news to their respective families that they would be marrying a stranger.
Brandon, dubbed "Mr. Never Plus One" by Lifetime, called himself "the life of the party" but admitted he always attends gatherings and events by himself.
Brandon grew up with his mother, grandmother and two aunts. Although his father lived in his area, their relationship came to an end when Brandon was 13 years old.
Brandon said it was sad growing up without a father figure and he'd definitely be a better role model for his future child or children. He wanted the "white picket fence life" comprised of a wife and kids.
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Brandon's family couldn't believe he'd be married in only 10 days. Brandon worried about his grandmother's opinion since she's a bit conservative, and she was confused why he would need to marry a stranger since he's personable, outgoing and kind.
Brandon said he was "willing to take the chance" since dating hadn't worked out for him in the past. Brandon's grandmother thought he was just "tired of striking out" since he had many girlfriends in the past who didn't work out.
And Taylor, dubbed "Miss Beauty & Brains," is a research scientist looking to earn her PhD. In her free time, she hosts events for a bourbon company and also drives for Uber and Lyft.
Taylor enjoys traveling and going on hikes with her dog, and she wanted a man with whom she could share all that with.
Taylor's mother was particularly nervous about the experiment, but since Taylor has a strong mind, she figured her daughter would go through with it regardless.
Taylor's cousin, Justin, agreed to walk her down the aisle, and Justin hoped this would be the best decision she'd ever make.
Pastor Cal said both Taylor and Brandon are ambitious and social, and so he thought they'd be a great match.
Mindy, "Miss Optimistic," and Zach, "The Fitness Fanatic," were then introduced.
Zach was excited and nervous about the process, but he couldn't wait to share his life with someone -- including his passion for fitness, nutrition and fashion. Zach wanted a bold and interesting woman who enjoys stimulating conversation.
Zach said he didn't use dating apps and saw himself as a husband. He looked forward to making his future wife feel safe, protected, loved and happy, but his friends were skeptical Zach could be vulnerable enough to make a marriage work.
Mindy, who is very passionate about figure skating, found out she was pregnant the day after her sister's funeral. (Mindy's sister had passed away from a drug overdose).
"I was prepared to go through it alone... but I ended up having a miscarriage. That took a lot of healing, but I am lucky to have so much love in my life from my friends and family," Mindy revealed.
Mindy, however, was ready to receive love from a spouse and life partner. Mindy's sister Taj called Mindy loyal, strong, creative and feminine, and she hoped this experiment would end in a fairy tale for Mindy.
Mindy's parents, however, did not support the decision to marry at first sight at all. Mindy's father allegedly thought the wedding was "a dumb idea," and it broke her heart.
Mindy feared being embarrassed on her wedding day once her groom realized her parents were not there.
Dr. Viviana thought they'd be a great match because they're both entrepreneurial and active. She said Mindy is intelligent and driven, which was exactly what Zach is looking for, and Zach had a very positive attitude.
Next up was Katie, "Miss Ready Right Now," and Derek, "Mr. Never Been in Love."
Derek was searching for adventure, from traveling to tasting exotic cuisines, but he desired finding true love more than anything else. He referred to himself as "a hopeless romantic" who's never truly been in love.
"Best case scenario for me would be not only falling in love for the first time, but for the last time," Derek told the cameras.
Derek's parents were divorced, and his Catholic mother apparently didn't approve of this arranged union. He therefore hoped his father's side of the family would be more open to the idea.
But Derek's dad called getting married at first sight "batsh-t crazy," and he had trouble being supportive. However, Derek's father promised to be there for him and maintain an open heart.
Dr. Pepper said both Katie and Derek were mature beyond their years.
Katie, a Type 1 diabetic, said it becomes more risky to get pregnant as she gets older, so she's hoping to start a family sooner rather than later. Her career was also about to take off, so she just wanted a man who would support and love her.
Katie wasn't looking to casually date, but she was overwhelmed about the idea of marrying a stranger.
Katie was also apparently still mixed up with a guy who was playing with her emotions prior to the show. Katie's ex wanted her back, but her family hoped Katie would dump him and move forward with her life.
Because the ex wanted to be with Katie again -- seemingly just out of fear he'd lose her forever -- she was having "cold feet" about getting married on the show.
Experts also matched Jessica "The Keeper" with Austin "The Mama's Boy."
Austin, a network engineer, loves his family and went on with a list of what his mother wants in his future wife -- including a strong-minded woman whom she could have fun with.
Austin didn't know why he was still single, because he said he has so much love to give. Austin apparently wants a family of his own and felt completely ready to be a husband.
Austin's mother Jill wasn't sure a show would introduce Austin to the love of his life and the person he's meant to be with, but she was all smiles and wished her son the best.
Jessica, a patient care manager, apparently gives off a wholesome persona, and she said she loves Christmas because she grew up on a Christmas tree farm. Jessica, however, is super close to her twin sister, Jennifer, which has been a problem in her past relationships.
Jessica felt pressure to hit life's milestones like her married twin sister, and she saw Married at First Sight as a great opportunity to create her own love story.
Jennifer's husband thought it was going to be a bad idea for Jessica to marry a stranger, and Jennifer also thought it was "crazy." But everyone was hoping Jessica would meet her soul mate.
Dr. Viviana said both individuals are giving, kind and sweet -- and they were both looking to start families of their own.
And finally, there were Meka, "Miss Ambition" and Michael, "Mr. First To Get Married."
Meka, a category analyst, called herself "an alpha female," and she wanted to be her own boss at work one day. Meka apparently helped to raise her three siblings when she was younger and hoped to be matched with a unicorn -- an ambitious, funny, romantic and family-oriented man.
Meka never wanted to settle, so she relied on the experts to find her a perfect match. Meka's family and friends seemed to be the most supportive out of all the cast members' families.
Michael, an education coordinator, lost his mother at age three to cervical cancer. Michael therefore grew up with his aunt and his sister Latonya. Given he struggled with dyslexia through school, he now helps children with special needs.
Michael enjoyed teaching yoga, working out and soaking in the arts. Michael was going to be the first person in his family to get married, and so he acknowledged it was a big deal.
Latonya was shocked by the news but just wanted her brother to be happy and have a partner through life. Latonya broke down into tears when sharing sweet words with her brother, and he was humbled by her emotion.
Dr. Pepper said both Meka and Michael have what it takes to go the distance given they're both career-driven and independent.
The men and ladies to be married at first sight were then shown shopping for their tuxedos and wedding dresses.
Jessica picked an elegant form-fitting gown with lace detail in the front and a sexy button-down back, Taylor selected a lace, low-cut dress with a beaded belt, Meka chose an A-line dress with an embellished bodice, Mindy chose a lace dress with a sparkly belt, and Katie went with a two-piece gown.
While shopping for her wedding dress, however, Katie was having some doubts and considering taking her ex-boyfriend back. She wanted to be with a man who was ready and willing to commit.
"My head is being messed with by this other guy, who told me I shouldn't go through with this," Katie told the cameras, before telling her family it was "terrifying" he was second-guessing her decision to marry at first sight.
Afterward, the Married at First Sight ladies met for the first time and celebrated with a joint bachelorette party, while the men also gathered and went out for their joint bachelor party.
Derek thought he'd be able to vibe well with Austin because they were both a little dorky, but Derek thought Zach's hair game was a little too strong.
Mindy then revealed to the girls her mother and father wouldn't be attending her wedding. Mindy was thankful to have her friends and sister by her side, but the other girls could definitely feel for her.
The girls also discussed whether they'd have sex on the first night, and both Jessica and Taylor seemed to be a "no" on that while the other ladies were a bit more open-minded.
Meanwhile, Zach revealed to the guys he never had a one-night stand, and the guys agreed to set expectations low on sex as to not be disappointed.
Zach called Brandon "a smooth talker" after Brandon said he'd be willing to watch Lifetime movies with his wife on their wedding night if it made her feel happy and comfortable. And Zach noted Derek seemed bubbly like Ashton Kutcher.
The bachelorette party featured same-sex lap dances for the girls and Katie getting a little wild and crazy with her moves. Katie also brought up the man from her past, saying her situation was "a little bit complicated."
"There was this guy I was casually seeing for a few months, but he made it very clear he was not looking for a relationship, so I just kind of moved forward," Katie explained to the other brides-to-be.
"I wanted to find somebody who was on the same page as me, and then I did this [show]. It was the day he found out I was actually matched and it was really happening -- that's when everything changed. He said he loved me. Yeah."
Meka thought that was "typical guy behavior" in that the man didn't want to commit to Katie but he also didn't want anyone else to have her.
"If a guy doesn't want to commit to you, I think you should just move on... That's kind of messed up," Meka said in a confessional.
Katie admitted she didn't know what to do because she had a sincere connection with the guy who had returned to her life.
"Do I take a risk on this guy who has shown me he's not on the same page as me or do I take a risk on this person who I know is on the same page as me but I don't know if we're going to have that connection?" Katie questioned.
One night before the wedding, Katie had trouble shaking off her ex, and she didn't know what to do. Katie planned to follow her heart and just hoped it would tell her the right thing to do the next day.
On the five couples' wedding day, everyone was nervous and anxious. Meka hoped she'd be attracted to her husband and he'd be tall with a beard, and Michael noted he'd love for his wife to have natural hair. (Michael did, in fact, have a beard, and Meka rocked her naturally-curly locks).
Katie and Derek preparing for their wedding was shown first. Katie woke up after a nightmare, saying she didn't like her husband in the dream and was "trying to run away."
She wondered whether Married at First Sight would be the start to a fairy tale or end as a disaster. Derek, on the other hand, was excited with no second thoughts.
While getting her hair done, Katie admitted the day wasn't turning out to be what she had dreamed of. She felt disappointed and got emotional knowing that meeting her groom was basically going to be a blind date.
Katie was "torn" on whether to actually walk down the aisle, and when her father asked if she was ready, she replied, "I don't know."