Owen Jenkins and Michelle Walder are the success story of Channel 4’s British version of Married At First Sight, the reality series that involves potential romantic partners being matched following intensive tests and assessments, then legally tying the knot having never set eyes on one other before.
A key element of the process is that, following the honeymoon and a trial period of living in the same house, each couple decides whether to remain wed. Owen and Michelle said yes last March, then spent the first lockdown together – and now their union has lasted longer than any of the programme’s previous marriages.
Before applying for the show, Owen, aged 32, already lived in Sheffield where he works as an IT manager. Teacher Michelle, 26, moved to the city from Sussex in August and found a new job at a primary school in Woodseats.
In a post on the couple’s joint Instagram account to mark 12 months since the day the couple were ‘matched’ by the show’s experts, Owen recalled feeling ‘smitten’ with Michelle while out for a ‘posh meal’ on the first night of their honeymoon.
“I just found myself looking across the table at Michelle,” he said. “I was smitten, this gorgeous woman was everything I wanted and needed without me even knowing half the things I had wanted in a partner. At this point I knew already we would last.”
He took a photo of Michelle that he chose as the background picture of his phone the day they got back from their honeymoon – and ‘there it has stayed ever since’, he said.
“I can’t believe how much my life has changed and I start every day thinking how lucky I am to be waking up next to this incredible woman. Michelle makes everything about my life and me better. She inspires me to be a better person and I now can't imagine my life without her.
“When I'm not with Michelle I miss her, but at least I get to see her beautiful face every time I pick up my phone. What a difference a year can make.”
In a separate post, Michelle affectionately described Owen as a ‘beautiful man’. “Mad how much changes in a year,” she said. “How lucky am I?”
Meanwhile the couple have also revealed they are officially home owners together, having just moved into their first house in Sheffield.
“If you had told me a year ago that I would be married and own a house with the best man to exist then I wouldn’t have believed you,” Michelle said on Instagram.
"I hope that this house is everything we dreamed of and more.”
The UK format of Married At First Sight is changing for 2021. Mirroring the Australian edition, partners will make a ‘lifelong commitment’ rather than marrying legally, and the couples will all live in a shared house.