While filming 112 weddings over the course of 20 years, videographer and documentary filmmaker Doug Block found he couldn’t shake one simple question: After the cake was cut and the gifts were opened, whatever became of these couples’ marriages?
That question inspired 112 Weddings, a documentary that explores how life and marriage have changed for 10 couples since Block filmed their weddings years earlier. Juxtaposing footage from the couples’ wedding days with candid present-day interviews, the film reveals which marriages thrived, stumbled, and, in two cases, ended.
Block, whose film credits include the documentaries 51 Birch Street and The Kids Grow Up, says the idea for the film had been “marinating” in his head for many years before he began reaching out to some of his most memorable couples. Block knows he’s not the only one who’s attended a wedding and speculated if the newlyweds would last. “We all [go to weddings and] think, ‘OK, but how will they be five years from now?’” Block admits. “Or, ‘Wow, will they make that last? They seem so happy.’ We’re always fascinated by the marriages of other people.”
Five to 19 years have passed since each of the couples’ weddings, so Block had little idea what to expect when he asked for an update. The very first couple Block ever photographed, Sue and Steve, had just filed for divorce the day before he contacted them. Olivia and Dennis revealed that their daughter had fallen seriously ill at age three, throwing their lives into uncertainty. Janice and Alexander, who opted for a three-day “partnership ceremony” instead of a legal ceremony 13 years earlier, had recently decided to officially marry and wanted Block to film the wedding.
Despite the drama involved in each couple’s story, Block was determined to create a film that respected wedding and marriage – something he doesn’t see the media doing. “A lot of TV doesn’t take weddings seriously. They make fun of them, overhype them, or it’s ‘bridezilla,’” Block says. Instead, he sought to honor the love stories of ordinary people like Danielle and Adam, who have remained as committed as ever throughout Danielle’s struggle with depression. “Those kinds of love stories are almost heroic in this day and age,” Block acknowledges.
Though he had witnessed each couple saying “I do,” Block maintains that the weddings in no way predicted the outcome of the marriages. In fact, he’s proud that the film celebrates how much work is required to sustain a successful marriage. The happiest couples appeared comfortable with each other, laughed at each other’s jokes, and, perhaps most importantly, embraced the idea of marriage being a “long haul” – a mentality Block believes engaged couples can learn from.
“Some people seem to think, ‘Wow, that’s not very romantic,’” Block shares. “That’s why romantic comedies always end at the wedding… As I say in the film, ‘happily ever after’ is complicated.”
112 Weddings airs Monday at 9PM on HBO.
Opening photograph courtesy of HBO