SYCAMORE – In the 900 weddings Jeffrey Petersen has officiated, the brides have always said yes. It took an appearance on the Netflix show “Love Is Blind” to break that streak.
Petersen was the officiant for the nuptials of Natalie and Shayne, one of the five weddings on the streaming reality show.
He said Netflix randomly found him to officiate the wedding, independent of his family owning Chapel in the Pines Wedding & Banquet Center, 15165 Quigley Road in Sycamore.
“Love Is Blind” is a dating reality television series produced by Kinetic Content, with 15 men and 15 women dating each other, sight unseen. A couple meets face-to-face only after a marriage proposal is accepted.
After becoming engaged, the couples spend time at a resort. They later move in together, meeting each others’ families and learning about each others’ lives.
At the end of four weeks, at their wedding, each participant decides whether or not to say “I do” to become married.
The second season of “Love Is Blind” was filmed from April to June 2021. The show premiered on Feb. 11 and a reunion episode aired March 4. All of the singles on the show were from the Chicago area.
“I don’t really watch reality shows, and when [Netflix] sent me an email through my officiant website, I had no idea what the show was,” Petersen said. “I had to look it up. Two days before the wedding, I thought I should figure out what I’m getting myself into, so I watched the first season of the show to get a better understanding of what it was all about.”
Petersen said that although it’s a TV show, it was a real wedding ceremony.
“The couples are real and the weddings are real,” he said. “I’m not scripted, the couples were not scripted. I was not part of the show, I was only there to officiate a wedding.”
Petersen was not permitted to meet the couple before the wedding.
“All I knew about the couple prior to them walking down the aisle was one of them had some money in the family … and they had a big fight two days before the wedding,” Petersen said.
During the Natalie and Shayne’s marriage ceremony, Petersen wore an earpiece through which the show’s producers were continuously giving him instructions.
Petersen said there were about eight large commercial video cameras during the ceremony, with a crew of about 25 people. There was no sound amplification for the guests, except for music.
“The wedding episode is heavily edited, such as the order, facial expressions, and long pauses, there were no pauses,” Petersen said. “[The] majority of the wedding is not included.”
During the ceremony, Natalie and Shayne were both asked to share their thoughts and feelings before saying “I do.”
“During a normal wedding, you don’t ask the couple to share their thoughts and feelings, but it makes for great reality TV,” Petersen said.
After Shayne said “I do,” Petersen asked Natalie to say her vows. She responded “I can’t.”
“Shayne and Natalie both looked stunned, then looked at me for direction,” Petersen said. “The producers told me ahead of time what to do if this happens, then told me again at that moment.
I told Shayne to stay, and Natalie to walk down the aisle by herself. She did. After she left, I was instructed to tell Shayne to leave down the aisle. … The producers then told me to walk down the aisle, I did, without saying a word.”
Since the show, Petersen has watched segments of episodes, paying close attention to Natalie and Shayne and their relationship. He has also watched the wedding episode in full.
“It was pretty close, but still slightly different from what really happened,” he said. “The show is for entertainment purposes, and it was interesting how Netflix edited the episode.”
Petersen said that since this show’s season took place in Chicago, and other seasons will take place in other cities, Netflix probably won’t contact him again.
“It was definitely a crazy experience,” Petersen said. “Netflix communicated with me very little, but were always professional, friendly, and courteous. I am honored Netflix gave me the opportunity to officiate the ceremony.”