Truth behind this MAFS wedding
IN THE affluent, harbourside suburb of Darling Point in Sydney's east, a yelling match has broken out between guests at a wedding ceremony.
"Go the Tigers!" a voice from the bride's side screams.
"Up the Stormers!" a friend of the groom's howls.
"No! Go the Crows!" another protests.
I have no idea what's going on, I tell the woman sitting next to me. Only, I say it a little too loudly and an unimpressed man on the groom's side turns around to face me.
"It's like Essendon and Collingwood," he grunts. I cock my head and squint.
"You don't know them?" he scoffs.
"I can name all the Beckham children from youngest to oldest?" I offer.
The man stares at me and runs his tongue over his front teeth.
"I'm a f***in' sweat factory today," he declares, turning away.
It's 12.15pm on this Friday in September and a record-breaking heatwave is taking hold across the city. Not ideal conditions for an outdoor wedding. Unless it's a wedding for controversial Channel 9 reality series Married At First Sight. Which this is. For this event, a heatwave complete with statewide fire bans is a pure gift for producers.
When I arrive, the guests at this blind wedding have been sitting under the sun in the backyard of this historic mansion for close to two hours. And they're not thrilled. But they have figured out they're all from Adelaide.
The heat mixed with the torturous delay combined with their confusion over having to fly to a city where neither the bride or the groom actually lives has left everyone agitated. Agitated enough to start fighting over football teams.
As the grumpy man in front of me begins to grunt something about unfortunate sweat stains on his chinos, a dishevelled fellow enters the backyard. Apparently it's the groom Sean but part of me doubts this because a groom - even one involved in a blind wedding - should at least look like he wants to get married. Sean is shaking and pale and glazed in sweat. He looks like he'd rather spend a year living inside a Nissan Cube than get married to a stranger today.
If there was a moment for Sean to back out of this mess, he's missed it. Suddenly, we hear a voice. It booms across the patio, down through the backyard and across the harbour.
In a white dress, Jo powers down the aisle with her two kids and she's loving every second of it. The train of her dress drags over a floor candle and almost sets these heritage-listed grounds alight.
There's complete silence, with no music playing throughout the ceremony. The occasional whirl of a drone camera overhead elevates the awkwardness.
An uncomfortable amount of time passes before Sean talks to Jo.
"I'm s***ting myself," he eventually stumbles.
The marriage celebrant stares directly ahead, wishing she opted for the online course in real estate.
Usually, the awkwardness of these reality TV weddings is amped up through sly edits and harshly cut footage. But today, that's not required. Sean's petrified and can barely function. In fact, it seems producers were forced to reign it in for the episode which aired Tuesday night and leave out most of his ongoing panic attack due to time constraints.
As the blare of one guest's novelty ringtone disrupts the silence and trails on for an agonisingly long time, Jo and Sean are pronounced husband and wife. We clap. They stare at each other.
"We're going to do that again," the celebrant says, warning Sean he's going to have to lay one on his new wife.
"So it is with my great honour we now declare you husband and wife. Sean you may now kiss your bride," the celebrant repeats.
As the newly married couple walk down the aisle, crew members dressed in black swarm out of the lush green bushes of this estate and run after the couple to separate them.
"Marriage equality, hell yeah!" Jo yells before encouraging someone to start a Mexican wave and I immediately start to wonder what it is me and my fellow gays have been fighting for.
Producers circle Sean and drag him away as crew filter out into the crowd to distribute umbrellas and water bottles.
Sean's friends try to approach to see if he's OK but they're not allowed near. They're concerned about how much of a wreck he is. They all know Sean really well. Particularly Pissy - short for Pissatron, FYI. I assume the moniker is self-explanatory and ask no questions. Sean's other friend Matho is also worried - more worried than he was when Sean fell asleep on the toilet at the Adelaide races and no one could find him.
As I begin to ask if anyone has photos of Sean sleeping on the toilet, a producer interrupts.
"Ladies and gentleman!" she yells before informing us of a complete reshoot.
"So all those faces you made when you first saw her, do it again. It's like the first time ... but for the second time," she says.
In an instant, the producers disappear back into the green bushes and behind sandstone columns.
The heat rises, and after 30 minutes we're filming everything again like it's the first time but for the fourth time.
By 1.40pm, more ruckus about the Crows begins to swirl and the grumpy man in front of me turns around to stare.
As I begin to name the Beckham children starting with Harper, a producer claps her hands.
"That's a wrap!" she says.
Married At First Sight continues tonight on Nine at 7.30pm.
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