For two decades, documentarian Doug Block has supplemented his career as a filmmaker by shooting wedding videos.
In 112 Weddings, he revisits some of his favorite couples to see how they’ve fared, and what wisdom they can impart about love and marriage. The couples profiled include:
• Rachel & Paul (Wedding #32, married 13 years) – The first couple Block returns to film, their lives are very much wrapped up in their two young children and, having had them at a relatively older age, it often leaves them exhausted.
• Jenn & Augie (Wedding #71, married 8 years) – Their once harmonious marriage has been disrupted by the stress of having a child, along with financial and space constraints. After Augie admits that there are times he thinks of leaving, an emotional Jenn maintains, “When things are going good, I don’t want to sit and think about when they’re bad.”
• Olivia & Dennis (Wedding #49, married 9 years) – A blissful beginning to married life in Mexico led to a harsher reality when their three-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer, but while the couple handled the diagnosis differently, it is their shared desire to provide a stable home that keeps them together.
• Jodi & Michael (Wedding #28, married 13 years) – Married later in life, Jodi has become a suburban stay-at-home mom to a daughter with special needs, while Michael works in the city.
• Janet & David (Wedding #43, married 7 years; currently divorced) – David, a former screenwriter, describes the disintegration of his marriage due, in part, to his manic episodes and abuse of anti-depressants.
• Danielle & Adam (Wedding #90, married 5 years) – Struggling with severe depression that has only worsened with the birth of the couple’s child, Danielle wonders “if this [marriage] was the best choice for Adam.” Her husband is grateful for their marriage, insisting, “I wouldn’t want to do this with anybody else.” Since the filming, Danielle is feeling better and started an online photography community where people affected by mental illness can send in their work. Brokenlightcollective.com.
• Yoonhee & Tom (Wedding #43, married 11 years) – After meeting serendipitously on a plane, their whirlwind courtship prompted Yoonhee to leave behind a potential teaching career in Korea and remain in the U.S. to marry Tom.
• Sue & Steve (Wedding #1, married 19 years; currently in the midst of a divorce) – Almost two decades ago, Sue and Steve were Block’s first wedding, but while Sue expected “happily ever after,” things grew unhappy over time, leading the couple down the long, hard road to divorce. “I was certainly judgmental of people who were divorced before,” Steve confesses, “I’ve learned that life isn’t so black and white.”
• Block also follows two couples as they prepare for their weddings – first-timers Heather & Sam, and Janice & Alexander, a duo whose partnership ceremony he filmed 13 years ago, and who are now ready for “a different kind of commitment” after two children and a newfound desire to protect the family they’ve lovingly created.
Throughout, Block speaks to his experiences as a witness to over 100 couples’ “big days,” and the effect revisiting them has on his view of marriage. Says Rabbi Jonathan Blake, “Happy weddings are a dime a dozen. Happy marriages are much more rare and therefore more precious.” In the end, although agreeing that “happily ever after is complicated,”
Block decides there is beauty in the moment when a newlywed couple walks “off bravely into the unknown future.”
Credits: Written, produced and directed by Doug Block; produced by Lori Cheatle; editor and co-writer, Maeve O’Boyle. For HBO: senior producer, Lisa Heller, executive producer, Sheila Nevins.