Here in the UK, we’re no stranger to a reality TV dating show, and we know from experience that they do *actually* work. We’ve got Love Island couples who are still together, MAFS couples who remain happily married and we’ve even had a Celebs Go Dating baby not too long ago.
And it’s not just UK reality couples we’re obsessed with. Dating shows from across the pond have also seen couples find their soulmate and fall in love on screen, with many a successful marriage coming out of Netflix’s Love is Blind - and we're about to get our very own Love is Blind UK next year, hosted by Emma and Matt Willis.
Love is Blind launched in America back in 2020 - a prime time for lockdown bingeing - and has had us hooked ever since.
Love is Blind Star Reveals Behind the Scenes Details & Calls for More Diversity in Reality TV
Although the drama of season five is very much fresh in our minds, we’re still just as invested in the lives of the season one couples who paved the way for those entering the experiment after them.
We spent the majority of the first season of Love is Blind obsessing over Lauren Speed-Hamilton and her now-husband Cameron’s journey.
Watching a couple as real as these guys go the whole way and say ‘yes’ at the altar is so satisfying, but as we know from experience, not all couples go the distance once the cameras stop rolling.
Luckily, Lauren and Cameron’s story was a happy one, and the pair are about to celebrate five years of marriage together.
To mark the milestone, we sat down with Lauren to talk about married life, her thoughts on the show now, and which couple she’s surprised are *still* together.
She also sheds light on representation within the reality television space, discusses the importance of safeguarding the cast’s mental health during the process, and gives advice to the UK cast who are about to embark on this very unique dating journey.
- The Success of Reality TV Dating Shows
- Casting for the Show
- Diversity in Casting for Reality TV
- The Legalities of Getting Married on Love is Blind
- Inside a Love is Blind Wedding
- Lauren & Cameron’s Relationship Five Years On
- The Other Love is Blind Couples
- Love is Blind UK
- The Ultimate Love is Blind Secret
The Success of Reality TV Dating Shows
Like anyone who takes part in season one of a TV show, you don’t know what to expect, or how successful it’s going to be - especially if it’s the first of its kind.
Lauren says, “Going into the first season, for us, it really was an experiment, and as a matter of fact, production held back a lot of details that we didn't know until we actually got there.
“But now we’re into season five, and now the cast members that are going on are seeing the success of the other series’, and seeing what gets the most camera time, they’re able to think okay, if I'm dramatic in this way, then I'll stay on the show.
“Don't get me wrong, there was some stuff like that on our season too, but I just think now, definitely, it feels like a different show. I feel like it's highly produced and the storyline for some of them seems forced, which is really unfortunate because I feel like it takes away the magic of the show.
“I mean, of course it's entertaining because it's highly produced and you're getting more personalities that are wacky or crazy or drama-driven, but I feel like the success of the first season was so big because it was refreshing to see genuine love stories. People really dating.
“That's why I like Tiffany and Brett so much because I feel like watching their story, it felt genuine, it felt like, okay, this feels relatable. And I really enjoyed that aspect of the show, so I hope they get back to that.”
And it’s not just Love is Blind contestants who have come under fire and been accused of not applying for genuine reasons. Cast members from Love Island, Married at First Sight and other dating shows in the UK and across the pond have had their motives questioned.
Potential cast members have to consider if their match's motives are genuine, which adds more pressure to their burgeoning relationships.
“And how terrifying is that?” says Lauren, explaining that if she was in that position she would question how much better it is than the real world.
Casting for the Show
And speaking about good intentions, it’s clear that both Lauren and Cameron were in it for the right reasons, but we wanted to find out a little bit more about the casting process.
Lauren admits that she never sought the process out herself, saying, “I think one of the big differences is that during our season, Cameron and I didn't seek out to go on Love is Blind - the casting actually approached us.
“For me, one of the casting people slid into my DMs, like ‘Hey, there's a new show coming out and we think that you might enjoy it,’ and for the longest time I ignored it because I never really wanted to do reality TV because it just always seems so messy and I felt like black women weren’t always portrayed in the best light on reality TV.
“But the more that I talked to the casting director, who was very persistent, and learned more about the experiment (coupled with the fact that my dating life was trash basically!) I started to grow more interested in the show and just the possibility that this could be something where I could potentially meet somebody and if not, it's just a good time.
“Once I decided that I did want to try to move forward with the whole casting process, the paperwork was like a mountain high. You have to go through a psych evaluation just to make sure that you're mentally fit to be on the show. It's definitely a lengthy process, in fact, it took months.”
Diversity in Casting for Reality TV
As well as thinking about intentions and why people are applying to be on the show, it’s also important to ensure that the people you are casting are representative of the communities who are watching.
“I think that the world is so vast and there's so many different types of people, relationships, ethnic background, sexual orientation and religious beliefs that represent the world. And I feel like if you're going to have a reality TV show, it should reflect all of that,” Lauren explains.
“It also gives people a chance to see a different viewpoint, learn something new and educate themselves. Variety is the spice of life and I am an advocate of seeing that reflected in the media. It’s something that needs to happen and we're about to be in 2024, so why is that such a taboo?
“I definitely feel like there could be a LGBTQ+ version of Love is Blind, just like they have a queer version of The Ultimatum. You have hetero relationships, and you also have queer relationships so show it all, because there are people watching that want to see people who represent them [on screen]. Everyone should be represented in the media.”
Lauren also highlights that it’s not just about who you cast, but also who you give screen time to:
“If you cast these people, show them on the TV and give them the camera time. We want to hear their stories and we want to see them because it's easy for directors and shows to be like, we casted them, but they didn't make it on the show for whatever made-up reason that they say.
“Follow through and show their stories and show them interacting in the house together because that's what we need to see on TV. It helps us understand each other better as a society.”
The Legalities of Getting Married on Love is Blind
Have you ever wondered how it works on Love is Blind?
Are their marriages genuinely legal? How long does each couple have to keep things a secret? And do they even get to plan anything themselves?
Spilling all the tea on just how legit the marriages are, Lauren explains, “They actually have us go to the courthouse the day before the wedding and get the paperwork. You don’t sign it until after you say your ‘I dos’ the next day, but you go and file, get the paperwork and show your IDs. It’s a real full-on courthouse marriage.
“That’s why on the show, I took my time. I actually cried because I was so scared. I knew I wanted to do this but it felt really real being in the courthouse and in my mind I did think, ‘do I really want to do this?’”
“I knew we were in front of the cameras, and I knew this is a show,” Lauren says, “But at the end of the day when the cameras leave, and when this is all said and done, I'm still going to be married to this man, and I didn't want to make a mistake.
“I didn't want to do something just because I was on TV. I didn't want to make decisions based on other people's opinions, or the audience, just because they feel like I should do something.”
Highlighting the gravity of the decisions made on the show, Lauren explains how important it is to remember that, “You're not marrying the audience, or the viewers, you're marrying this man. And so, that's what you need to be focused on, and that's what I tried to do.”
Inside a Love is Blind Wedding
How much of a say do the couples have in the process, do they get to plan anything and who gets an invite?
The couples don’t get to decide the date, which we suppose is a given as it has to work around filming, and Lauren and Cameron’s given date was bittersweet for her, “I’ve always wanted to get married in fall since I was a young girl, so that happened to work out, but the actual date, not so much because I ended up getting married on my birthday.
“So now I have a birthday anniversary which for some people is cute, but for me I feel like they robbed me out of my own personal holiday - but me and Cam have learned to celebrate them separately so that works.”
Lauren also confirmed that the venue, location and officiant are not something the couple get to choose either, however there were some things that the cast members get creative control over.
“We definitely got to choose the colours,” she explains, “The production asks what colours you want in your dream wedding and for me I love purples and pinks.
“We get to choose our guest list and who we want to come, but with people not knowing about the show and having to keep it kind of secret, I personally struggled with who to invite.”
Despite the couples being allowed to invite up to 50 people each, Lauren only had around 10 friends and family members there.
“For me, that was overwhelming, and so for that reason I only invited my really close friends and my really close family.”
Lauren & Cameron’s Relationship Five Years On
Once the cameras stop rolling, the couples begin their real lives together as newlyweds. Lauren shares what life after the experiment was like for her and Cameron.
“I always say we did it backwards, right? It's like we got married and then we started dating, which in a lot of ways was fun and exciting, but it's definitely different than anything I've ever experienced.
“So we thought let’s really try and get deep in our relationship by getting to know each other every single day but in a way I feel like I enjoy that aspect of it because you started with the deep stuff first like what's your political views? How do you want to raise children? How do you want to do this? And that a lot of people who are married don't even discuss things like that soon.
“So in that aspect, I feel like it was great. So it's like we did the hard stuff first and did the fun stuff after the wedding.”
And as they approach five years of marriage, she also confirmed they are planning a celebration which will be done their way - without a producer in sight, “We're in the process of planning our renewal,” she reveals, “We're so excited.
“I think we're gonna do something Las Vegas style and go to the little chapel, have the cute little fun funky wedding dress and the old car with our family and friends and just have a good time.”
The Other Love is Blind Couples
As a reality TV podcast host (you’ve got to give We Have the Receipts a listen!), it’s Lauren’s job to keep up to date with the show, so we had to ask her about the other season’s couples.
And just like any viewer, she has her opinions. For Lauren, season four’s Tiffany and Brett take the crown: “I think that they are the most beautiful couple. I love their energy together and I hope they last forever. They’re so cute and they look good [together].”
As well as favourites, there have been many pairings, both good and bad, that have surprised viewers. Lauren explains, “I am honestly surprised that Amber and Barnett are still together and that they are still trucking through because they’re coming up to five years like me and Cam.
“It’s funny knowing them. They really are yin and yang, but at the same time they are so similar in their personalities and just fit each other. But I am surprised that they are still going. I hope it continues!”
But Lauren was full of praise for any Love is Blind couples who have managed to make things work after the experiment. She told us, “Marriage is hard in general, especially having a marriage that happened in a fast way on a TV show in front of the world. It's difficult in general and when you add those elements in, it makes it even tougher.
“It's a big deal because nowadays married couples without all those extra things aren't making it. So, kudos to anybody who has the willingness to try to make their marriage work because it is hard.”
Love is Blind UK
With the UK’s launch of Love is Blind around the corner (aka next year!), we wanted to see if Lauren, having been through it all already, had any advice for the British cast members who are about to be hauled into the limelight.
“I think the important thing is just to focus on your story,” she says, “If you focus too much on the public and their opinions, then you'll get in your mind, second guessing your worth and yourself.
You never want to attach your worth to public opinion, whether it's good or bad.
“It's like you have to know regardless of what people think, I'm happy with myself. I'm happy with who I am, and I'm happy with my life. And I think that that's something that I had to learn because it was difficult at first.”
Despite being one of the most popular Love is Blind couples the show has ever had, it wasn’t all love and positivity from the public, as Lauren explains, “We got a lot of love, but we also did have people who left nasty comments, believe it or not.
“It's tough and it takes a lot of mental strength to do anything in the public eye. Let alone open yourself up to such a vulnerable space when it comes to love and relationships.
“I would just tell future people to keep that in mind as much as you can, don't read the comments, don't get so caught up in other people's opinions that you start to question yourself worth, because at the end of the day, that's their business, it has nothing to do with you.
“As long as you're okay with you, that's what matters. It’s important to know that the people who are leaving negative comments, has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you.”
The Ultimate Love is Blind Secret
Alongside all of the heartfelt advice, insider details and cast opinions, we couldn’t sit down with Love is Blind royalty and not ask the one question we know is on everyone’s lips…
What is with those gold cups? They’re everywhere - in restaurants, in people’s homes, in every pod. But why?
Dishing the dirt, Lauren reveals, “They send us the gold cups, and this is a little production tip, so that when you’re drinking and they edit it, you can’t see the different edits and whether the glass is full, empty or in the middle. That’s why they use a cloudy cup so you can’t see the jumps.”
If that isn’t *the* golden nugget of this chat, we’re not sure what is!
Chatting with Lauren has got us even more excited for the UK series to launch, but while you wait for that, you can get your reality TV fix from Lauren’s podcast, or this edit of the best celebrity weddings of 2023, and the ones we’re most looking forward to in 2024.