September 15, 2011

Interview #3: What it's like to do a dating project Q&A with Aubrey

I've been loving these interview sessions with friends who have gone on to do their own dating projects. And I've been really excited to share this particular interview and hear all the lessons learned from a fun dating project called The Mormon Bachelorette.It was just one year ago when Aubrey and her friend Erin (hey wait, she's MY friend too!) decided to put their own fun spin on the whole 31 Dates in 31 Days idea and took it to a totally different level. Aubrey had auditioned for the hit ABC show, The Bachelorette, and amidst the callbacks realized the show wasn't exactly what she wanted.
Here's the thing. Aubrey wasn't really hoping to marry any of those television "Bachelors." In real life, she's a Mormon with, meaning she's a church girl with a strong moral code. What she wanted more than anything was to marry an equally devout church boy. So, Aubrey and Erin tapped into their entrepreneurial spirits, saw an opportunity, and came up with their own online "reality show" version. They took the premise of The Bachelor and gave it a twist, inviting members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to participate, and Aubrey became the first Mormon Bachelorette.
Aubrey went on 22 first dates, followed by 8 second dates before picking one lucky guy for a third date. So yes, she also endured a full 31 Dates in 31 Days. And the whole time, Erin and the rest of their friends helped plan everything behind the scenes -- and tagged along Aubrey's dates with a video camera.
Since her memorable dating project last September, a lot has happened. Aubrey has not only married the bachelor who received "the final rose" -- but she's also pregnant with their first child! And as for Erin and her crew? They had so much fun with Aubrey they decided to keep going, with more online "seasons" of The Mormon Bachelorette and The Mormon Bachelor. (They're just about to wrap up "season three" so you still have time to catch up and see who their new Bachelorette picks in the end!).
For now, here is Aubrey's side of what it was really like to be the first Mormon Bachelorette:

Tamara: What was it about your dating life that led you to doing something so dramatically different?

Aubrey: For me it was a matter of wanting to meet some new faces and go just plain GO ON DATES!  I had recently applied to be on ABC’s The Bachelorette, ashamedly one of my favorite tv shows, and was asked back for another interview.  It was then I realized that the show really wasn’t for me, an active-LDS return missionary with a strong testimony and desire to marry in the temple.  I wanted to date an LDS guy, one who shared the same desires as me.  So one night my friends and I decided to quit talking about starting our own Mormon version of The Bachelorette and just do it!  Because of my love for the show (and because I was more single than I’d ever been) I was convinced by my friends to give it a shot and become the first Mormon Bachelorette.

Tamara: What were you hoping to get from your dating project experience?

Aubrey: In all honesty, I had really high hopes. I wanted The Mormon Bachelorette to lead me to someone that I could fall in love with and would someday take me to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity.  Whether he was one of my 22 dates, or someone that watched The Mormon Bachelorette and wanted to get to know me better. I realize how crazy that sounds, but there was something in my heart that told me this would lead me to something good.

Tamara: Yep, I can totally relate. How did you manage to find so many people to go out with you?

Aubrey: On our website, we set up an online application for eligible LDS bachelors to fill out. Our staff (aka – my roommates) then kept everything anonymous to me as they screened each of the applicants, deciding who would be the best fit for a date with me. 

Tamara: In what ways did your dating project seem different from your dating life previously? And how did you deal with those differences?

Aubrey: My month-long dating challenge was just that, a CHALLENGE! For an entire month my schedule consistedof working a full-time job Monday-Friday (and designing wedding flowers for brides on the weekends), fitting in my daily workout, getting ready, going on my date, coming home to hours of editing footage into a short film, writing about my experience and posting it on a blog before passing out sometime around 3 or 4 in the morning.  I think most people would go insane with such a crazy schedule (and believe me, I did), but the one thing that kept me going was the knowledge that this project felt divinely inspired and I knew that only good would come of it.

Tamara: What was the most memorable part of your project?

Aubrey: Besides getting to marry the most amazing man in the world? Probably the opportunity to meet so many different people from all over the United States who were looking for love just like me!  Just the simple act of a man reaching out to go on a date with me made me feel of such great worth and gave me a desire to encourage single guys everywhere to TAKE GIRLS ON DATES!

Tamara: Yes! Take them out! If you could go back, would you do it again? And if so, what would you do differently?

Aubrey: Heck yes! In fact, we have done it again for another deserving Bachelor and Bachelorette!  Only this time we learned from the challenges of my “season” and realized we needed a delay before posting the dates to the website so that everyone has a chance to breath.  Best decision we ever made! 

Tamara: Did your dating project and the lessons you learned from it affect your relationship with Matt? And if so, how?
Aubrey: Matt and I have talked about this many times before and we’re both convinced that had it not been for The Mormon Bachelorette, we never would have dated.  Before dating we had been in the same [congregation] for over a year, shared the same circle of friends, and apparently had considered asking me out before, but felt put-off by my agnostic attitude toward him (I should be ashamed).  But the truth of the matter is, I was not interested in him because I simply did not know him.  So given the opportunity to go out on a date, one-on-one, opened our eyes to something we never knew was there.

And there you have it. Congrats Aubrey and Matt - on your marriage and your expected addition!

Aren't you inspired to do your own dating project now? Maybe even just five dates in five days to see how it goes? Check out my nationwide dating challenge and let me know if you or your friends are interested. And just as a reminder, 31 Dates in 31 Days is not only on sale online (for a discounted $11.20) but it's already arriving in the mail (three weeks earlier than bookstores!).

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