For the past two decades, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Doug Block (51 Birch Street, The Kids Grow Up) has helped support himself by shooting weddings. Hired for his intimate documentary style, he found himself emotionally bonding with his wedding couples on their big day, only to send off their videos and never see them again. Many years and 112 weddings later, having long wondered what’s become of their marriages, Block begins to track down some of his favorite couples. Juxtaposing rapturous wedding day flashbacks with remarkably candid present-day interviews, 112 Weddings explores timeless themes of love and marital commitment.
The Wedding Couples
Director Doug Block talks about his relationship with the couples that feature in the film:
RACHEL & PAUL - Wedding #32 Married 13 years; live in downtown Manhattan; two children
Paul is a musician, and at their outdoor wedding he serenaded Rachel with an original clarinet solo as she arrived for the ceremony. I got to know them better than most couples, so they were the first ones I approached to be interviewed for the film. Clearly, 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. I had forgotten about their amusing habit of both speaking at the same time.
JENN & AUGIE - Wedding #71 Married 8 years; live in Brooklyn, NY; one child
Jenn and Augie had one of the most upbeat, joyful weddings I’ve ever filmed. And while they still enjoy a jokey, playful dynamic, having a child, getting laid off from a job and living in a small apartment can put a strain on even the best of relationships. Before becoming parents, they say they rarely ever fought. But now…
Augie: A friend of mine, his quote fit us perfectly. He says my wife and I agree 95% of the time. But that 5%, we’re just at each other’s throats.
OLIVIA & DENNIS - Wedding #49 Married 9 years; live in the East Village, NYC; one child
After their wedding, memorable for Olivia’s hyperventilated walk down the aisle, they moved to a hut in Tulum, Mexico, where Olivia was a massage therapist and Dennis a scuba diving instructor. They moved back to NY when their daughter Lily was born. However, when Lily was 3, she was suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor, and life for Olivia and Dennis has never been the same.
Dennis: There’s no real book on how to take care of a child who may be taken from you at any moment, and dealing with that fear. You’re thrown into a living nightmare that never ends.
In the past year, no longer able to afford living in New York City, they moved to Palm Beach, Florida. They happily report that Lily just turned 10 and “is kicking ass.”
JODI & MICHAEL - Wedding #28 Married 13 years; live in New Rochelle, NY; one child
They became close friends in college but, despite a deep attraction, Michael resisted dating Jodi for many years because he knew it would become serious, and he wasn’t ready to settle down. When they finally married, the plan was to have many children, as they both came from large families. But ultimately “it wasn’t in the cards” to have more than one child.
When it became clear at kindergarten age that their daughter had special needs, Jodi, despite having business and medical degrees, became a stay-at-home mom, which she handled stoically. Michael is a managing partner in a Manhattan private equity firm.
Since their interview, Jodi has become a yoga teacher.
JANET & DAVID - Wedding #83 Married 7 years before divorcing; both live in Manhattan; one child
I don’t think I’ve ever had a moment shooting weddings to compare to David showing me his anti-depressant collection. It’s easy to be fooled by his outlandish personality and wicked, self-mocking sense of humor. He’s also disarmingly candid, taking full responsibility for the failure of his marriage and the emotional havoc he caused. It’s poignantly clear that, despite everything, he’s still very much in love with Janet.
For her part, Janet chose not to be interviewed for the film. “I want to,” she admitted by phone, “but I’m just too honest for my own good.”
JANICE & ALEXANDER - Wedding #111 Live in Newton, MA; 2 children
13 years ago, Janice and Alexander brought me upstate to film their elaborate, 3-day “partnership ceremony,” which had all trappings of a wedding but for the very deliberate choice they made not to not sign a wedding certificate.
Alexander: When we went back in time to take a look at why the legal contract was created in the first place, the main reasons for it had a lot to do with ownership, right of lineage, and possession. They were economic equations, which didn’t resonate with us.
When I called to interview them for the film, my timing was fortuitous. With two daughters entering their teens, things had taken a more practical turn and they had decided to officially get married. This time it was only to be a small ceremony in their living room, and they laughed it off as no big deal. However, when the day arrived they couldn’t help getting caught up in the emotion of the occasion.
HEATHER & SAM - Wedding #112 Live in Brooklyn, NY; I’ve been hired to shoot their upcoming wedding in Heather’s hometown of Helena, Montana.
After interviewing a number of married couples, I was eager to get the perspective of a couple about to get married. Happily for me, sweet, funny and articulate Heather and Sam turned out to be perfect for the role. Under a crisp Montana sky, the setting for their wedding was as picturesque as I’ve ever seen. And when they finally walked nervously down the aisle, it was impossible for me not to visit the experiences of the other couples on them, and think about what marriage might become for Heather and Sam in the years ahead.
A year after their wedding, Heather and Sam had a son, and they recently moved to Oakland, California.
SUE & STEVE – Wedding #1 Married 19 years, currently getting divorced; live in Mamaroneck, NY; 3 children
Even if it hadn’t been my first-ever wedding gig, Sue’s exuberant personality made their wedding unforgettable. When I called all these years later to ask them to participate in the film she had just filed for divorce the day before, and was very emotional. I waited nearly 6 months to do the interview to give Sue the chance to gain more perspective on what happened. Naturally, I was eager to hear Steve’s side of the story, as well, and very appreciative that he agreed to tell it on camera. That wasn’t the case with every divorced couple I contacted, for sure.
YOONHEE & TOM - Wedding #43 Married 11 years: live in Ridgewood, NJ; 2 children
They met on a plane and immediately began a whirlwind courtship. Yoonhee was finishing her masters degree in music and her father had a job lined up for her teaching college back in Korea. Instead, she made the biggest decision of her life by marrying Tom and remaining in the U.S.
Yoonhee and Tom struck me on their wedding day as an archetypal example of opposites attracting, and I was curious to learn how that would play out over the course of their marriage. Given the role destiny plays in Hollywood movies, I asked whether they felt it was fated for them to be on that particular plane on that particular day. Tom immediately laughed and said no, but the question clearly resonated for Yoonhee. She looked off into space with a dreamy expression.
Yoonhee: Life can be funny. Life can be very funny because, I mean, why did it happen, you know?
DANIELLE & ADAM - Wedding #90 Married 5 years; live in Millburn, NJ; one child
Danielle was one of the most radiant brides I’ve ever filmed, so it was particularly sad, 5 years later, to see her all but paralyzed by depression. It turned out it’s something she’s struggled with for many years, but her condition was exacerbated by taking hormonal treatments while trying to get pregnant.
I was particularly moved by Adam’s unwavering devotion to Danielle. At one point, acknowledging that it’s hard not to feel like he’s taking care of two children, he turned to her and said:
Adam: I personally feel like you’re completely worth waiting for, for this to fix itself one day. And even if that’s never, I still think that I wouldn’t want to do this with anybody else, you know?
ANNA & ERICA Wedding photographers and life partners for 4 years
I had the privilege of meeting Anna and Erica while we were all on a job shooting a same sex wedding, which was just months before they were to get married themselves. While we were on breaks, we wound up chatting quite a bit about marriage, and I felt their perspective as a gay couple would be valuable for the film. In the course of revisiting so many wedding couples, and especially Janice and Alexander, I often wondered why signing a marriage contract makes such a difference in long-term relationships. So I asked Anna and Erica why that was so important to them, as opposed to simply living together.
Anna: I totally hear our queer friends who just think marriage is not what we should be fighting for, it should be abolition of marriage. But I think you can’t just deny the reality that that is how society is structured today and in order to have an equal place in that, I don’t know, it makes sense to get married.
RABBI JONATHAN BLAKE Head Rabbi, Westchester Reform Temple
I met Rabbi Blake while shooting a wedding during the time I made 51 BIRCH STREET, and was so impressed with his humor and wisdom (and youthful looks!) that I included him in the film. We have remained friends ever since. Having officiated at well over a hundred weddings and being married himself for over a decade, I thought, in addition to Anna and Erica, he could lend valuable insights on the subject of both weddings and marriage.
Rabbi Blake: The wedding is day one, and it’s the easiest day to make happy. You’ve just thrown a ton of money at it, and liquor. A marriage is hard to make happy because when you throw a ton of money and liquor at it, it often makes things worse.