Back in the old days, it was often frowned upon to have a child without first marrying the father of the child. Of course, that was a time when unmarried mothers didn’t have a lot of resources, help, or assistance available when caring for and raising the child. Things are different today.
In fact, the CDC has reported nearly 1.5 million live births to unmarried women in 2020 alone. For reference, there were just over 3.6 million total babies born in the US in 2020 – meaning roughly 41% of all births that year were to unmarried mothers. That’s a rather large percentage.
Don’t worry, most of those babies will still grow up with a father and loving family – who knows, some of those unmarried mothers might end up marrying the father of the child after giving birth. In other cases, they might choose to get married while pregnant, before the child is born.
A shotgun wedding is a themed wedding for pregnant couples that want to marry before their child arrives. Since not all pregnancies are planned, they sometimes get in the way of a couple’s other goals, dreams, or desires. A shotgun wedding allows for a quick, yet intimate wedding.
With that said, a shotgun wedding isn’t much different than a regular wedding – the primary difference being the bride is pregnant and the couple wants to wed before birth. The overall theme, style, and traditions that go along with the wedding are 100% for the couple to decide.
We should also note that the term ‘shotgun wedding’ doesn’t necessarily mean shotguns are used during the marriage ceremony. Some couples might include them as a source of symbolism, but they’re not mandatory or required. Don’t worry, the reason why they call it a shotgun wedding will make sense soon.
History of Shotgun Weddings
The history behind shotgun marriages is a little faint, but many people believe they originated sometime in the 1700s or 1800s. One story dates back to 1872, when a young man was forced to marry the woman he got pregnant. The woman’s father held the young man at gunpoint.
The phrase ‘shotgun wedding’ isn’t as popular as they once were, largely because women are rarely pressured into getting married before having a child. In fact, some women are better off having the child alone and being a single parent. With that said, shotgun weddings do, in fact, still exist.
Another early depiction of shotgun weddings was in 1883 when George Maynor believed Dr. Roberts got his daughter, Nottie, pregnant. Maynor, along with three of his relatives, abducted Roberts and forced him to marry Nottie at gunpoint. Of course, there are even weirder stories.
Reasons Why People Have Shotgun Weddings Today
Today, shotgun weddings aren’t exactly what they used to be – largely because it’s illegal to force someone to marry another person at gunpoint. That doesn’t mean shotgun weddings don’t happen today, but rather they have a different meaning and are often executed differently.
Here are some of the most common reasons why people have a shotgun wedding today:
- The mother and father want the child to grow up with two parents present
- The mother and father want to stand by their religious beliefs
- The social pressure of not being married, but having a child
- The mother and father want to better support the baby financially (together)
- The mother and father believe the child will have a better life if they’re married
- The mother and father weren’t thinking of getting married, but the baby made them rethink things
Since having a baby before marriage isn’t frowned upon in society today, many women don’t feel pressured to get married when pregnant. Even if they’re with a man they want to marry, they can always wait until after the baby is born – that way, they don’t have to rush through anything.
Pros and Cons of Shotgun Weddings
Having a shotgun wedding isn’t for everyone, but certain couples can stand to benefit from having this type of wedding ceremony. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of it to determine if it’s right for you and your significant other. Here are some of the primary benefits of shotgun weddings:
- Mother doesn’t have to go through it alone
- Couple can get married in a quick manner
- They’re usually smaller weddings, which are cheaper
- The couple is married before the baby arrives
- Planning a shotgun wedding is usually less stressful
- You might not second guess yourself since you’re pressed for time
- Your wedding photos will be unique with your baby bump
- Now, let’s take a look at some of the most prominent downfalls to having a shotgun wedding:
- Not everyone wants to be pregnant in their wedding photos
- Rushing the process might make the wedding less memorable
- Although planning the wedding might be less stressful, you can’t forget about the added stress of being pregnant
- Not every mother and father are meant to be together
There’s no shame in having a shotgun wedding, especially if it’s what you and your partner really want. With that said, it has to be something that both parties agree on and you can’t have the marriage forced on anyone – unlike the traditional meaning behind a shotgun wedding.
Tips When Having a Shotgun Wedding
Those that are planning to have a shotgun wedding are going to have a lot of wedding planning to do – even though the wedding might be a little smaller and more rushed than usual. Don’t worry, the wedding planning process is something you don’t have to go through alone.
Here are some of our best tips and advice when having a shotgun wedding:
- When picking a dress, account for any added weight due to the pregnancy
- Be unique and creative with the style and theme of the wedding
- Double the wedding as a photoshoot for your new family
- Incorporate shotguns into the wedding, even if they aren’t being shot
- Try digital invitations to reduce the amount of time it takes to RSVP
The pregnant bride and groom are the two most important people in any shotgun wedding. When throwing a shotgun wedding, their needs and desires must be accounted for at all times. This is their moment and it should be everything they ever dreamed it to be – and more, of course!
Do You Need a Wedding Venue?
Are you currently planning a shotgun marriage? Have you found yourself the perfect venue for your shotgun wedding? If not, then don’t worry because Secret Window Events is here to save the day. Located in Denver, Colorado, we have a wedding package for every bride and groom.
If you’d like to learn more about our wedding venue, go over the wedding packages we have available, or schedule a tour so you can see what we have to offer in-person, then contact us today. We can’t wait to be a part of the next chapter of your life – feel free to ask any questions!