How much do MAFS contestants and experts really get paid

·Contributor
·5-min read

Many contestants take part in a reality TV show in the hopes it will lead to a life of fame and fortune. And while some get to give up their day job for the online fame of being an influencer, many are disappointed and return to their normal lives.

Contestants on Married At First Sight often say that have chosen to come on the show to find love but given the odds of a happily ever after, they must also be hoping for a change in their fortunes and a taste of a different type of life. 

Michael Brunelli and Martha Kalifatidis
Michael Brunelli and Martha Kalifatidis are one of the few remaining MAFS couples. Photo: Nine

However many of them discover early on that they have to work hard for what they get and if they think they'll be living a champagne lifestyle while on the show they are quickly brought down to earth with their beer budget.

The contestants do not actually get paid for being on the show and many have given up their day jobs for their spot in the limelight.

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They do get paid expenses but not as much as you'd think as some former contestants have revealed.

Jono Pitman, who appeared in the second series of Married at First Sight told KIIS101.1's Matt & Meshel that they got $150 a week but they could keep their jobs.

Clare Verrall and Jono Pitman
Clare Verrall married Jono Pitman in season two of Married At First Sight in 2016. Photo: Nine

"We were able to continue with our normal lives at the same time, so we were able to go to work," he told radio listeners. "We only had to take about a week off of annual leave for the honeymoon."

However as the ratings and popularity increased, the brides and grooms were required to give up their jobs during the filming of the show. And while they weren't paid for the time they had off work, they were given an increased expenses allowance. 

Nasser Sultan, one of the grooms from season five of the show, revealed that all of the contestants were paid a daily allowance.

"You get $150 for the day, that's it," Nasser told Now to Love. "But on top of that, you have to pay expenses – your living expenses with the woman that you marry."

Former MAFS contestant Nasser Sultan with fellow contestant Cyrell Paule
Former MAFS contestant Nasser Sultan with fellow contestant (from the following season) Cyrell Paule. Photo: Instagram/@official_nassersultan

"It's not $150 clear," he went on to say. "You still have to pay rent if you're renting, you've gotta pay your rego and it's 12 hour filming days."

"None of our groceries were covered," Nasser revealed. "They filmed us going shopping and we had to shop at the same grocery store – which was really expensive, but it was out of our own money.

"Gab and I would sometimes spend up to $70 a day on just living, so we didn't have much left after that."

Nasser, also revealed that the Married at First Sight contracts for his season explicitly stated that contestants were to receive a daily allowance and are not being 'paid for work'.

While Nasser felt that $150 a day wasn't sufficient to cover his living needs, he did reveal that some of the other couples, particularly the brides, had negotiated more for their daily expenses.

Lizzie's two MAFS weddings
Lizzie's two wedding in 'Married at First Sight' - firstly to Sam Ball and then the following year to Sebastian Guilhaus. Photo: Nine

"Sarah [Roza] and a few others, like Davina, got more money," he revealed. "They got $50.00 more a day. Basically, the more you did for the show, the more you got."

Some former contestants also used their past experience in TV to negotiate better deals for themselves. 

When 2019 bride Lizzie Sobinoff accept the offer to come back to the show in 2020 and get another shot at love, she got a good deal for herself.

"Lizzie was paid a whopping fee of $100,000 for her four-week appearance on the new season, while the rest of the cast received just $150 per day," a source reportedly told New Idea.

And just like Lizzie's return to the franchise, the contestants in the All-Stars’ special were able to negotiate better rates for their appearance, explaining why so many agreed to take part.

Ines Basic MAFS wedding
Ines Basic negotiated a higher rate for the reunion. Photo: Nine Network

"We're told that each cast member is being paid a minimum fee of $3,000 for the two-day shoot," The Wash revealed. "And Ines Basic is walking away with the biggest pay packet. We're told that not only did Ines negotiate a ‘substantially higher’ fee, she also managed to get herself a hotel upgrade too."

The Married At First Sight experts – John Aiken, Mel Schilling and Trisha Stratford – do get paid for their time on the show and while it seems generous to you and I, they kicked up a bit of a fuss about it last year.

"The experts are on $50,000 each for the whole series and they feel they are being underpaid," a well-placed insider told New Idea, adding they might walk if they aren't taken seriously.

Married At First Sight dating experts Mel Schilling, John Aiken and former expert Trisha Stratford. Photo: Nine
Married At First Sight dating experts Mel Schilling, John Aiken and former expert Trisha Stratford. Photo: Nine

"With the success of the series they have had salary increases, but their involvement in the show is not huge and [it] is produced within an inch of its life," the source continued.

Psychologist Trisha has since left the show telling Woman’s Day New Zealand: "By the end, I couldn’t compromise my professional and personal standards because there were participants on the show who I felt shouldn't have been there." 

Do you think the contestants and experts are paid too much or too little?

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