Have you ever heard of the phrase “shotgun wedding”? It’s a term that refers to when two people get married without planning it, usually because they got pregnant.

It can also describe when someone is forced into marriage with another person by their families or friends. The shotgun wedding has been around for centuries, and there are many different variations on this theme.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about what a shotgun wedding means and highlight some of its histories!

What does a shotgun wedding mean?


shotgun wedding

A shotgun wedding is a marriage that has been planned without much thought, usually because one partner got pregnant. The term comes from the old-fashioned practice of tying couples together with a string or rope called “shotgun” to force them into matrimony.

The phrase “shotgun wedding” first appeared in print during World War I and referred to marriages conducted by military members on leave who wanted an excuse for getting married before returning overseas and were killed in battle (or wounded).

In recent years, it’s most often used as shorthand for instances where parents push their children into marrying someone they’re not interested in just so there’ll be another adult around to take care of their child.

Wikipedia has more information on the full history of where shotgun weddings came from.  Make sure you check it out here.

Do shotgun wedding still happen?


shotgun wedding

Shotgun weddings are still happening, although the term is typically used to refer to marriages where one of the partners is pregnant. Parents might pressure their children into marrying someone they’re not interested in just so there’ll be another adult around to take care of their child.

And for some people, shotgun weddings can be a pleasant thing! For example, One woman’s father was initially upset when she told him that she was pregnant and planned on raising her baby as a single mother.

But once he met his grandson and granddaughter (the pregnancy turned out twins!), he completely changed his mind about wanting them all under one roof together – even if it meant pressing for a shotgun wedding between daughter and son-in-law.

How to have a shotgun wedding?


Just like traditional weddings, you’ll need to set a date and time, invite people. It’s worth asking someone who has planned weddings or attended them before they have any tips for what to do differently.

The one significant difference is that couples will want to include their parents in planning the event. It may be even more critical than usual because this wedding might also double as the baby shower!

Famous people who had shotgun wedding


Don’t feel bad if your wedding looks more like a shotgun wedding than a traditional wedding.  Below is a list of some famous people who had a shotgun wedding.

Reese Witherspoon & Ryan Phillipe

It all started with the movie "Cruel Intentions" for these love birds. After two years of dating, they finally got a shotgun wedding.

Jennifer Garner & Ben Affleck

They finally tied the knot when Jennifer was four months pregnant. So your shotgun wedding doesn't have to be right away!

Amanda Seyfried & Thomas Sadoski

Both couples meet at a Broadway show, "The Way We Get By." Their relationship got more robust when they worked together on The Last Word. They eloped back in 2017 and revealed the news on James Corden's late-night show.

Julia Stiles & Preston J Cook

Julia was two months pregnant when they tied the knot. They did an intimate wedding with just two friends on a beach in Seattle.

Alicia Keys & Swizz Beatz

Did you know Alicia Keys was six months pregnant when she tied the knot with Swizz Beatz! I don't think Alicia's father came with a shotgun to Swizz about it :P

Drew Barrymore & Will Kopelman

Not exactly sure when Drew was pregnant, but she tied the knot with Will in June 2012. They had their first child in September of 2012.

Gwyneth Paltrow & Chris Martin

Gwyneth was four months when she tied the knot with Chris in 2003. Their daughter was born five months later in May.

Ginnifer Goodwin & Josh Dallas

Ginnifer was eight months when she tied the knot with Josh. Both couples worked together in "Once Upon A Time."

Kendra Wilkinson & Hank Baskett

I couldn't find anything when they got married, but these couples were together for nine years. They both had a civil ceremony in 2009 and were expecting a child at the time.

Jessica Alba & Cash Warren

Jessica and Cash had a courthouse marriage, and one month later, pop out a baby. Jessica was almost eight months pregnant when she tied the knot.

Samantha Guthrie & Mike Feldman

Samantha was four months pregnant when she tied the knot with political consultant Mike Feldman.

Christy Turlington & Ed Burns

Both couples got married while Christy was pregnant. I couldn't find out how many months it was, but they got married while pregnant.

David Benioff & Amanda Peet

For the game of thrones fan, David Benioff and Amanda Peet were pregnant when they tied the knot in September 2006. Amanda was four months pregnant and stunned the guest with an Oscar De La Renta gown.

Matt Damon & Lucina Barrosa

Super low-profile couple tied the knot while Lucina was three months pregnant. Matt & Lucina dedicated to having a courthouse marriage.

James Van Der Beek & Kimberly Brook

Former Alum of Dawson Creek got married while Kimberly was pregnant. Again, unknown how many months.

Julianna Margulies & Keith Lieberthal

She was walking down the aisle in a gorgeous Narcisco Rodriguez gown. Julianna exchanged their vows while she was seven months pregnant.

shotgun wedding
Reese Witherspoon & Ryan Phillipe
shotgun wedding
Alicia Keys & Swizz Beatz
shotgun wedding
Jennifer Garner & Ben Affleck
James Van Der Beek Kimberly Brook uai
James Van Der Beek & Kimberly Brook
Jessica Alba Cash Warren uai
Jessica Alba & Cash Warren
shotgun wedding
shotgun wedding
Matt Damon & Lucina Barrosa

We hope these couples have plenty of happy memories from their wedding day! Congratulations to them all! 🙂

Have you been to or attended a shotgun wedding? If so, what tips do you have for anyone planning the event? What other differences should we be aware of when having a shotgun wedding?

Make sure you also check out some of our other wedding planning tips, tricks, and guides down below!  Make sure to also check out our full wedding gallery!