The undercurrent in
weddings and marriage? Money is taboo
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[July 02, 2014] By
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The
couples interviewed in the new documentary "112
Weddings," which premiered on HBO in late June, don't
talk openly about money. There are sideways glances and
pained looks, but as they reminisce about their weddings
and talk about how their marriages have gone, they
simply do not go there.
"It's the thing that people are least eager to talk about," says
documentary filmmaker Doug Block, who has freelanced for the past 20
years as a wedding videographer. Block reconnected with some of his
clients for the film.
Block's other major works are also highly personal - "51 Birch
Street" and "The Kids Grow Up" both feature his family - and he is a
character in this one, too. Married for 28 years, he says he is
something of a confidante and comforting presence to the bride and
groom while he is filming, and they are always asking him questions
Here are some of his answers:
Q: Did you notice any correlation between the way the couples
are during their weddings, or what they spend, and their happiness
A: A few told me they wished they hadn't spent as much on the
wedding - they could use the money now. But I don't think you can
extrapolate anything from what people look like on their wedding
day. Some people may be shy or others used to public displays of
Even when I felt like I got a really good vibe from them at the
wedding, you never know. There was one couple that seemed so solid,
and four years later they were divorced. I know in that case it was
a money issue.
Q: What over-the-top touches did you see as you filmed?
A: I want to come back in the next life as a florist for weddings.
The amount of extravagant bouquets! I'd shoot church weddings where
flower arrangements were down the entire long aisle.
People were getting the Rolls-Royces and carriages for the
transportation to and fro. And the wedding cakes, oh my God. I saw
some wedding cakes that were the equivalent of a first year of
Q: When you went back to find couples to interview among the
112, how many didn't make it?
A: I got in touch with about half, and of those, less than 10
percent were divorced. I attribute that to my great karma.
Q: Among the ones who are having trouble, what did you
interpret as the reasons?
A: What they are not saying is more revealing than what they
When one woman who was laid off, brings up, "We're not doing quite
as well as we used to," you see the look. And another couple (where
the wife doesn't work and they have a daughter with learning issues)
it's so clear that stuff is not being said, and they are being
evasive. What's revealing is the silence, and the expression they
have when they are not talking.
[to top of second column]
Q: As an award-winning filmmaker, how much did shooting
wedding videos contribute to your finances?
A: Documentary income is so inconsistent. If I'm in
production, I'm getting salary for the editing period. For those
years, weddings were maybe a quarter of my income; other years it's
a half or more. I've tried to limit it to between six-nine weddings
One June, when I was editing "51 Birch Street" to get it ready to
premiere at the Toronto Film Festival that September, I got in seven
weddings - I double dipped doing Saturdays and Sundays. You can't
turn these things down.
Q: Do you like weddings?
A: Weddings are so sociologically interesting. Often, it's done as
much to impress as it is to have a good time. And I get caught up in
them - if the emotion is there.
The only problem I have is when the couple decides they're not going
to get emotional. I don't get that at all. Of all the days in your
life when you can express your feelings and love, hey, it's your
Q: What's your best wedding advice?
A: Rather than fall intro trap of going the traditional route, do
what would be fun for you. I'm surprised more people don't turn it
into a weekend retreat or play volleyball at a lake. Some weddings I
shot are like that, and everyone seems to be having a wonderful
time. Others, people can't wait to have a drink and get out of
Q: Do you plan to keep shooting wedding videos?
A: Oh yeah, and my price is going up.
(Follow us @ReutersMoney or at http://www.reuters.com/finance/personal-finance.
Editing by Lauren Young)
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