Documentary maker Doug Block: 11.2 things I've learnt from filming 112 weddings

When he's not making documentaries, Doug Block films weddings. Here he reveals what he has discovered

In his new film 112 Weddings, Doug Block goes back in time to meet some of the 224 people whose big days he's filmed. For many, there's been happiness; for others divorce, illness and mental health problems. Through his initial wedding films, and having revisited the couples, he's learnt as much as anyone about marriages. Here are his 11.2 lessons:

1. There are few things more fascinating than to be a fly-on-the-wall with an ordinary couple on their wedding day. Because for them it's the most extraordinary day of their lives, and how can you not be moved by that?

2. Weddings aren't just about one couple getting married, they're about two families merging, with each bringing their own complicated histories to the mix.

3. Weddings are a somewhat bittersweet experience for parents. On the one hand, they're thrilled for their sons and daughters. On the other, it's the ultimate letting go of their child. When I see buckets of tears being shed, I don't presume that they're always tears of joy.

4. There will never be a more acceptable place to fully express > your emotions publicly than at a wedding. I'll never understand why some brides and grooms seem so determined not to cry, as if it's a point of pride.

5. Most brides and grooms describe their wedding as dream-like or even surreal. I think that has to do largely with the wide-ranging mix of people who are invited. I mean, where else but in dreams do you see your childhood friends, college buddies, work colleagues and relatives all together in one place?

6. People tend to conflate weddings with marriage, so all this attention and energy goes into the wedding day with very little thought is given to what comes after. But the wedding is just Day One.

7. There's a reason Hollywood love stories always seem to end at the wedding altar. Happily-ever-after is complicated.

8. I have a wise rabbi friend who has officiated at well over 100 weddings. He maintains that weddings are easy to make happy, you just throw a bunch of money and liquor at it. Whereas marriages are hard to make happy, because if you throw a bunch of money and liquor at it, it usually makes things much worse.

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9. You can never tell how a marriage will work out from how 'in love' the couple appears on their wedding day. It's fun to guess but you'll be wrong a lot.

10. The wedding day isn't all about the bride; in the end, it's about the couple.

11. I used to think 'the money shot' was the bride walking down the aisle, all radiant and glowing. I've come to understand the real money shot is the recessional, when the couple walks off bravely, hand-in-hand, into the unknown future.

11.2. There's no such thing as a wedding toast that's too brief.

Doug Block's '112 Weddings' screens at the Sheffield Doc Fest tomorrow and Monday, and is on general release from 13 June. See 112weddingsmovie.com

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