Here, Sade Schuurman, 29, tells the story in her own words.
￼Growing up, I was obsessed with fairytales. I thought I’d marry at 18 in a ceremony fit for a princess before we lived happily ever after. But while I went on to have a couple of long-term relationships, they didn’t work out.
A hopeless romantic, all I wanted was a husband. Then two years ago I came across an advert.The Edge radio show was looking for women to take part in a segment called Strangers and a Wedding, where the bride and groom wouldn’t meet until the moment they said their vows. It wasn’t exactly conventional but it was legally binding.
I fired off an application along with 300 other hopefuls. So I was amazed when I made the top 10.
Live on air, I was interviewed by a psychologist and introduced to the mystery man’s family. As the nation listened in, they grilled me about my intentions, dating history and whether I wanted children. ‘What does he look like?’ I asked them. Appearances didn’t matter to me but I wanted to visualise the person I could be spending the rest of my life with. ‘We’re a family of giants,’ his mum, Kres, laughed.
Walking away, I had such a good feeling. I can see myself in their family, I thought. Amazingly, I got a call from the groom the following day. ‘Would you like to be in the top three?’ he asked.‘Yes, I’d love to!’ I cried.
For the next part of the process we were dressed in prosthetic disguises for a 15-minute date. While I was a husky with a huge snout, he was a beast! ‘Why are you doing this?’ I asked. ‘I’m ready to settle down,’ he explained. Trying to get as much information as possible, I found out he was outdoorsy and loved water sports.I really want to marry him! I thought, feeling a spark.
Afterwards, the producers told me he would be proposing to one girl at 6am the next day. With my mum, Fiona, by my side at home, we listened to him chatting away in the studio. Suddenly, my mobile rang. ‘I think you’ll make me the happiest guy in the world,’ he said. ‘Will you marry me?’ ‘Oh my God, yes!’ I said, dropping the phone and rolling around on the floor.
The wedding was in six days’ time, so I had my hair done and had a fitting with a wedding-dress designer. I asked the producers to invite my soon-to-be mother-in-law and sister-in-law to my hens’ party. It was so strange to spend the day with them when I hadn’t even met the groom!
The night before the wedding I met the three other couples who’d married at first sight on the show. Zane and Paula were still madly in love after 16 years. Steve and Kersha had three kids and Chantelle and Paul had been together eight years. ‘It’s about compromise,’ Paula told me. That night I was so excited I barely slept. Sadly my dad Gareth didn’t approve of what I was doing, so Mum was walking me down the aisle.‘I’m really proud of you,’ she said.
When I came round the corner my hubby-to-be’s jaw dropped. He likes me! I thought, feeling myself relax. The first thing I noticed was how sparkly his eyes were. ‘Hello, I’m Aaron,’ he said, flashing a warm grin. Then we recited the vows we’d written. ‘From what I’ve heard you’re kind and loyal and I look forward to joining our lives together,’ he said.
Afterwards we had our first romantic kiss. The party was a whirlwind until finally we were alone in our hotel room. ‘I hope you don’t snore,’ I joked. ‘Nope. Any bad habits?’ he asked. ‘I sleep until 10am,’ I admitted.
Like a true gentleman, Aaron offered to sleep on the couch. But I wanted to share a bed with my new husband on my wedding night, so he snuggled in beside me. On our honeymoon in Hawaii we laughed constantly and I learned we had the same values. The main one being that we were both committed to making our marriage work.
So, back home, I moved into Aaron’s bachelor pad. ‘On the condition I can bring my furniture!’ I laughed, wanting to add my touch to the place. Two months after we got married, I knew something for certain. ‘I love you,’ I said.
It was another month before Aaron was ready to say it back. But it was real. Then Dad called. ‘You can’t play around with marriage,’ he said. ‘Is this forever?’‘Yes,’ I told him.
Spending time with Aaron, Dad gave us his blessing. Marriage is a vow we both took very seriously. Two years on, we’re happier than ever. We’ve moved from NZ to Sydney and can’t wait to try for a baby. It might not be traditional to get married at first sight, but I finally have the fairytale ending I’d dreamed of.
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