Melissa couple’s transformation featured on reality show `Happily Ever Altered’

Joshua Baethge,
The Anna-Melissa Tribune

MELISSA - Melissa residents may notice some familiar faces on television Wednesday night.

Their neighbors Alexa Grassley and Matt McDonald star on the Lifetime Network special “Happily Ever Altered.”

The program follows two couples who undergo a major transformation before their wedding day.

The kicker is that while they are completing their physical changes, they are not allowed to see each other until they walk down the aisle - that is, if they make it there.

(Spoiler alert: The rest of this article may give away that answer.)

In 2016, Grassley underwent a gastric sleeve weight-loss procedure, and subsequently lost more than 150 pounds. The single mom experienced many ups and downs along the way.

As she was beginning to gain her confidence back, she met McDonald online. He was also a single parent who was not in the best shape since leaving the Air Force.

“I kept messaging her over and over, and then she finally replied,” he recalled. “When we were finally able to get out, we sat and talked for hours and hours.”

Fast forward a few years and the couple was engaged. Grassley was browsing around some Facebook bridal groups when she stumbled upon the “Happily Ever Altered” casting call. She decided to share her story.

While Grassley was proud of the progress she had made on her weight-loss journey, she didn’t feel like her transformation was complete.

The weight loss had left her with lots of extra hanging skin that, in many ways, made her feel like the weight was still there. She felt it was something she had to address before she could move on.

“We had a lot of people apply to the show,” Executive Producer Tim Cohen-Laurie said. “Alexa really has a story that we felt Americans from all over could really relate to.”

When filming began last summer, the couple had to stay apart from each other for four months as they underwent various procedures.

In addition to having her loose skin removed, Grassley got liposuction around her torso, a breast lift, implants, tummy tuck and new veneers on her teeth.

McDonald underwent full liposuction on his stomach and sides. He also had his teeth whitened and had a missing tooth replaced.

“It was really emotional going through all the transformations,” Grassley said. “And to do it apart when we were used to doing everything together was really really hard.”

While enduring the physical changes without each other was tough, she said that the time apart gave them both a chance to step back and look within themselves. When the big day finally arrived, she knew they were truly ready to get married.

Before the special aired, McDonald and Grassley said they don’t know quite what to expect when friends and family viewed it.

Early on, some didn’t believe the couple when they said they were going to be on a reality show.

Grassley was also nervous about people seeing things onscreen that she would not normally share. Despite this, both said they would do it again in a heartbeat.

“I have so much more confidence,” Grassley said. “I walk differently. I exercise differently. I would not take anything back.”