Married at First Sight UK’s longest-lasting couple, Michelle Walder and Owen Jenkins from Sheffield, embarked on their remarkable journey when they married as strangers in the Channel 4 reality show back in March 2020. This unexpected union has seen the couple traverse through remarkable milestones, with the exciting anticipation of an upcoming addition to their family in the form of their first baby, expected in December.
Michelle, a 29-year-old teacher hailing from Sussex, joined Owen, a 35-year-old IT worker from Sheffield. Following three years of a contented life in Sheffield, the couple recently relocated down south to be closer to Michelle’s family. Their story stands as one of only three enduring couples out of more than 30 pairings to have participated in MAFS UK over the years, with another successful pair, Adam Aveling and his wife Tayah Victoria, also originating from South Yorkshire.
Reflecting on the significant turn of events, Owen shared with The Sun the fortuitous decision that stemmed from first noticing an advertisement for the show while at a pub, suggesting that applying turned out to be the best choice he ever made. Acknowledging the differences between the old and the new format, Owen stressed a key aspect that he believes made the most profound impact on their experience.
He noted that unlike the latest groups of participants, when they joined the social experiment, they were legally married. This formal union necessitated credit checks, a prenuptial agreement, and will-writing – a process that inherently came with additional pressure, as any lack of compatibility meant traversing the challenging process of divorce.
Owen expressed, “Legally being married solidified the fact that we were together from day one and helped us to get through initial problems and work through things straight away.”
Despite the marked differences in the show’s format from their experience, Owen and Michelle conveyed to The Star their steadfast belief in their enduring bond and attested that they were destined for one another. Michelle recounted her initial trepidation when she moved to Sheffield, expressing fear despite having known Owen for only four months. However, her sentiments quickly transformed as she developed a deep affection for the city, where she taught at a school in Woodseats and even became a member of the Woodseats Musical Theatre Company.
Additionally, the couple shared insights into their audition process, which involved extensive psychological testing and even involved discussions with Owen’s former partner. They recounted staying up till the early hours on the night of their wedding, a culmination of a whirlwind of emotions and conversations before filming resumed in just a few hours.
The couple’s narrative is complemented by the participation of another Sheffield resident, Jordan Gayle, who currently appears in the latest series of MAFS UK. Jordan, along with his wife Erica Roberts, seems to have a promising start to their newly formed relationship, contrasting the experience of musician Richie Dews from Sheffield in the last season, who failed to establish a connection with his bride, Lara Eyre.