Married at First Sight is back on June 12!
Eight singles from Charlotte, North Carolina, will be saying “I do” to a total stranger in the hopes of finding their happily ever after.
PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at the photos of the season 9 couples tying the knot on Lifetime’s social experiment show (produced by Kinetic Content). As always, a panel of experts — family therapist Dr. Viviana Coles, sociologist Dr. Pepper Schwartz and marriage counselor Pastor Calvin Roberson — will be guiding the newlyweds through the matchmaking process and their subsequent marriages.
From an awkward wedding ceremony to a fast-tracked honeymoon and moving in together, there’s sure to be tons of drama — and hopefully true love — in store for the couples.
Elizabeth Bice, 29, and Jamie Thompson, 35
Raised in Mooresville, North Carolina, Bice is a free spirit whose parents have been married for 29 years. After spending the last two years focusing on her own personal growth, she is ready for commitment. “I’m getting married at first sight because I have quite the personality,” she tells PEOPLE. “I consider myself that ‘fun’ kind of crazy, and I want a husband who is going to accept me for who I am.”
Thompson grew up in a very tight-knit family in Columbia, South Carolina. Never one for casual dating, the newly 35-year-old is ready for marriage — and travel. (He’s been holding off on getting a passport until he finds his forever travel partner!) Jokes Thompson: “I’m ready to get married at first sight because I’m 35 and I’m getting to be that creepy, old guy.”
Keith Manley, 27, and Iris Caldwell, 27
Manley’s parents have been married for nearly 30 years, and his grandparents recently celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. He doesn’t believe that divorce is an option and is ready for kids as soon as possible. He also looks up to Beyoncé and Jay Z and hopes to mirror their relationship. “It’s that time in my life where I would love to start thinking about my own family,” he says. “It’s scary [to get married at first sight], but I’m willing to take the chance to find my perfect match.”
Caldwell is an only child who has been saving her virginity for her future husband. Though her parents divorced when she was just 3, she is close with both of her parents and is looking for an equal partnership where her spouse is fully supportive of her. “I’m ready to get married at first sight because it’s hard to meet someone that wants to commit,” she says. “It’s just the whole fact of commitment — that’s the issue with guys these days! There’s no commitment level.”
Matthew Gwynne, 32, and Amber Bowles, 27
Gwynne is an international basketball player who is often gone several months out of the year. As a result, his personal life has suffered and most of his relationships ended because distance got in the way of deeper emotional connections. “I’m getting married at first sight because I like to take risks. No risk, no reward,” he says. “I’m single. I’ve been a hopeless romantic my whole life, so why not?”
Bowles is a strong-willed and sassy tomboy who is also a hopeless romantic. When she was 4 years old, her mother came out as gay and moved to Massachusetts to find acceptance. She has an identical twin and both she and her sister are very close with their father. “I don’t want to date anymore!” she says. “I’m so ready to start my forever.”
Gregory Okotie, 32, and Deonna McNeill, 30
Raised in a tight-knit, single-parent household with an older sister, Okotie is finally feeling financially stable and ready for a life-long partner. He’s ready to start a family and is heavily involved in his church. “I was engaged before, but God had different plans and it didn’t work out,” he says. “I’m ready to be in love again!”
McNeill is very close to her sister, and family time was a huge part of her upbringing. A career-minded woman, she’s also well traveled, a homeowner and has a supportive group of friends. “I haven’t dated in 10 years,” she says. “I can get in my own way, so I figured getting help from the experts to find my forever relationship would probably be best.”
A special matchmaking episode of Married at First Sight airs June 12 at 8 p.m. ET followed by the two-hour premiere at 9 p.m. ET on Lifetime.