The term “shotgun wedding” has an American heritage. The expression alludes to a stereotypical scenario in which the father of the pregnant woman pressures the hesitant young man, the baby’s father, with a shotgun to coerce him into marrying his daughter.

A shotgun wedding is often a marriage precipitated by a woman’s pregnancy. A couple who have a shotgun marriage may have been in a steady relationship but have not decided on tying the knot.

An informal wedding that takes place in a hurry is sometimes referred to as a shotgun wedding as well even though there is no pregnancy involved.

Reasons for a Shotgun Marriage

Shotgun marriages occur for a variety of reasons. One reason is the need to provide financial stability for the mother and child from the father of the child.

Another reason is to have a marriage ceremony is to save the woman from giving birth to a child without the father and ensure that the child will be raised by both parents. Having married parents is beneficial to children, according to numerous studies.

Some people have shotgun marriages to save face or satisfy family members. There is a negative stigma associated with having a kid out of wedlock in many societies, especially in the past. Furthermore, if the marriage takes place early enough during the pregnancy, the unplanned pregnancy might be concealed.

A shotgun wedding may be controversial if the bride or groom does not want to marry the other but is forced to do so. The couple can divorce quickly afterward if that’s the case.

However, a shotgun wedding is no longer limited to a marriage that is pressured by others. Some couples just happen to decide to get married after the woman got pregnant.

Famous People Who Had Shotgun Weddings

The following are some well-known celebrities who were pregnant on their wedding days:

  • Christy Turlington and Ed Burns
  • Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman
  • Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin
  • Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck
  • Jessica Alba and Cash Warren
  • Lucina Barrosa and Matt Damon
  • Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe

Some of them are still in love with one another. Unfortunately, some aren’t.

Do Shotgun Marriages Last?

There is a study that examines 800,000 white and black North Carolina mothers from 1992 to 2012. They matched birth certificates to marriage and divorce records.

After ten years of marriage, 30% of white couples who married with a shotgun wedding were divorced, whereas 19% of white couples who wed prior to conception were.

For the same time-frame, 23% of African-American couples who had a shotgun wedding subsequently divorced while 20% of African-American couples who got married before getting pregnant did.

So, while the proportion of shotgun marriages that end in divorce is greater than those that take place before conception, it isn’t by much.

Literal or Figurative Gun

In figurative use, the term “shotgun wedding” refers to a forced union, such as a merger of two companies due to necessity without the willingness of one or both parties.

A shotgun wedding, for example, may be used to characterize the formation of a coalition government, as such coalition governments are generally formed owing to necessity with totally different political views.

The United States’ annexation of Hawaii in 1897 was also referred to as a shotgun wedding, in which American business interests and naval strategists had desired the island nation for a long time.


The majority of shotgun marriages are due to unplanned pregnancy with unwed couples. The wedding is generally informal without so much event planning or a grand wedding march.

Examples of reasons for a shotgun wedding include financial security, to give the child the benefit of having a father, or to save face with the relatives.

A shotgun marriage may have been frowned upon in the past due to its negative connotations of premarital sex and unwanted pregnancy, but a study has found that a shotgun marriage can last just as long as a marriage where the couple got married before getting pregnant.

So if you got pregnant and agreed to marry your baby’s father, you may just have begun a journey that will bring you both love and happiness in the future.