Shotgun Wedding: History And Does This Marriage Last?

Are you curious about what is a shotgun wedding and why it is called that way? Here is everything you need to know about the history of this unique wedding. 

We’ll even discuss how common shogun weddings are in these modern times and how long a couple’s marriage from a shotgun wedding usually lasts. But for another reference, you can also read what is a shotgun wedding

shotgun wedding


Everything To Know About A Shotgun Wedding


What is a shotgun wedding?

A shotgun wedding is an informal term for a marriage ceremony where a couple is forced to get married because the bride is pregnant. Forcing the marriage ensures that the woman who became pregnant out of wedlock will have a committed husband to guarantee financial stability for her and her child. 

This marriage to force commitment is also seen in Japan, especially in couples who need a “legitimate reason” to consider unity together forever. Shotgun marriages in Japan are usually out of teens who got pregnant from not using contraceptives or older couples who intentionally get pregnant to have a reason to get married. 

Because there is no social or parental pressure on young Japanese to get married, there’s a noticeable trend of women having babies first before getting married. But what is the history behind the term “shotgun wedding,” and why does it sound so violent? 


Why do they call it a shotgun wedding?

The shotgun wedding is so-called because of the reference where the pregnant bride’s father forces the groom or the baby’s father to marry her by pointing firearms at him. It was even believed that back then, angry men followed the groom to the altar with firearms to ensure that he would comply with the marriage. 

However, any forced wedding due to the woman getting pregnant is called a shotgun wedding. There’s no need to involve a shotgun, but there might be an alternative to ensure the groom’s compliance. 

Modern times also mean that getting pregnant out of wedlock is no longer taboo and immoral. Couples nowadays cohabitate for years without the intention of getting married for different reasons but are still considered together and in love. 

Commitment among couples is no longer defined as marriage; it is a better co-parenting environment for the baby if the parents are not forced into a family. You’ll find the statistics below if a marriage from a shotgun wedding is bound to fail or last. 


What’s another term for a shotgun wedding?

A shotgun wedding can also refer to forced marriage, wedlock, or compulsory marriage. Regardless of the term, they all mean that the marriage was enforced because of the pregnant bride. 

Getting pregnant is why a couple is forced to get married. This will guarantee that the baby’s father can’t run away from his responsibility, but also because other family dynamics are not yet explored in the past.

For example, single motherhood was considered immoral, or a woman alone couldn’t earn enough for her baby. Co-parenting of individuals who are not married or separated was also not considered normal and was even embarrassing. 


How Long Is A Shotgun Wedding?

A shotgun wedding may last as any typical wedding ceremony, for 30 to 45 minutes. The factors that will affect the duration of the shotgun wedding include the type of wedding, such as the religion of the bride and groom and other family traditions. 

A shotgun wedding may also finish quicker than a traditional wedding as it’s defined as a compulsory marriage ceremony. For example, the families of the bride or groom might be the ones shouldering the costs, and one of the most affordable wedding ceremonies that are legally binding is the civil wedding. 

You can read how does a courthouse wedding work for more information. 


What’s A Good Place For A Shotgun Wedding?

A shotgun wedding may happen at the bride’s family’s place of worship. If it’s a shotgun wedding where the groom is monitored for his compliance, doing the shotgun wedding somewhere sacred can benefit the families as it will encourage them to maintain humility and peace. 

For example, families are unlikely to clash or engage in potentially dangerous fights inside the church. But if it’s only a unity ceremony, then the shotgun wedding venue can be outdoors. 

Just ensure that the officiant can legally perform the marriage ceremony and that the necessary documents are still accomplished to validate the couple’s unity and commitment. 


How To Plan A Shotgun Wedding

A shotgun wedding is often rushed as it might be a quick wedding ceremony due to the insistence of the bride’s family. Therefore, whoever is planning the shotgun wedding only needs to secure the venue, help the couple prepare the paperwork, and find a legal officiant to perform the wedding. 

If it’s expected to have many guests like friends and family, they can attend the party at the reception. This is cost-efficient since you’re only managing the guests at the reception. 


Is Shotgun Marriage Common?

As the social norms changed and different family dynamics became more common, shotgun weddings became less frequent. For example, single mothers can acquire financial support from the government, so some pregnant women don’t need a forced marriage for financial security. 

Having a baby out of wedlock is also less taboo, and more couples don’t think getting married is required to raise a child together and in harmony. Interestingly, data from an article on midpregnancy marriage and divorce showed that shotgun weddings are not entirely obsolete.

The study’s authors found that shotgun births are increasing in population subgroups like less-educated and younger black and white women. And on the contrary, shotgun births are more likely to become less common among advantaged groups.


Do Shotgun Marriages Last?

Because shotgun marriages are considered forced and quick, it’s only natural to anticipate that the commitment won’t last forever and eventually lead to divorce. This is true for white couples, as 30% of them who had a shotgun marriage were divorced, according to a study by Duke University

In comparison, the divorce rate of shotgun marriages is nearly the same as other marriages among African-Americans. The findings from the study showed that shotgun marriages are as stable as any marriage or those that occur even without pregnancy among black couples. 

Therefore, many factors can affect the longevity or divorce of a shotgun marriage. The only takeaway is that research still suggests it’s ideal for children to live with married parents who don’t divorce. 


Should you consider a shotgun wedding?

The choice is up to the couple if they want to get married because of the pregnancy. There might also be social norms and expectations where they live that would make them consider a shotgun wedding. 

Bowling Green sociologist Karen Benjamin Guzzo also compared women who married the child’s father before and after the pregnancy and married a new partner. And in the study, the group who performed best were women who went through with the shotgun wedding while the marriage with the child’s father after its birth is less likely to last.

Ultimately, discuss this with your partner and how you’ll handle parenting and financial responsibilities for the child. Remember that pregnancy is not a sufficient foundation for love and relationship. 


Can I Get Married During Pregnancy?

The bride and groom can still get married during pregnancy. Perhaps you find out that you’re expecting suddenly, and now you’re worried about how it will affect the wedding plans. 

It’s also up to the couple to reveal the pregnancy to families and friends. Announcing it after the wedding or on another occasion like the baby shower is perfectly acceptable. 

When’s the best time to get married during pregnancy? Pregnant brides might want to reconsider the wedding date during the first trimester because they’ll likely need to deal with nausea and morning sickness. 

And on the other end of the spectrum, you don’t want to get married during the third trimester as the baby might arrive on the wedding day. It’s also uncomfortable to dance and move at the reception when heavily pregnant. 

And for pregnant brides who don’t know what to wear yet, wow your guests with the most flattering wedding dress from these stores on where to buy maternity wedding dresses


Is It Better To Get Married Before Having A Baby?

According to The Brookings Institution, more positive outcomes exist for couples who get married before having a baby. Compared to cohabiting parents with a baby, married parents are likely people who plan to have a family. 

On the other hand, a couple who had a baby and then decided to get married might go through the wedding because of the sudden responsibilities of parenthood. There’s a higher risk of their union dissolving with unintended parenthood. 

Finally, married couples are likely more financially stable because they’re older and saved more than those with unexpected pregnancies. Therefore, there’s less financial stress and issues that can affect marriage and parenting. 



And that’s it! We hope we’ve answered all your questions about a shotgun wedding.

A quick definition of this wedding is an enforced or hurried marriage because the bride is pregnant. Its unique name is related to a scenario where the bride’s father threatens the groom with a shotgun to ensure he’ll marry his daughter. 

As for how common shotgun weddings are nowadays, it depends on the population. Finally, marriages from a shotgun wedding are also expected to end in divorce, but as studies revealed, this is only true for white couples. 

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