What’s the meaning behind the movie Shotgun Wedding?

By Marc Miller
Published: January 27, 2023 (Last updated: January 27, 2024)

What’s the meaning behind the movie Shotgun Wedding? We discuss the Prime Video movie and the meaning behind the title. 

Here at Ready Steady Cut, we enjoyed the Jennifer Lopez action romantic comedy Shotgun Wedding, calling it “…an undeniably entertaining blast with dynamic friction-filled chemistry between the leads and the reliably hilarious supporting turn by Jennifer Coolidge.” However, let’s examine the etymology of the movie’s title and the meaning that relates to the film as a whole.

What does Shotgun Wedding mean?

When it comes to the definition of a Shotgun Wedding, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the term as:

“: a marriage forced or required because of pregnancy”


“: a forced union”

Other than the term Shotgun Wedding being thrown around King of the Hill every so often and a story out of India in 2018 where a groom was forced to marry a woman he didn’t know in 2o18, the term has no place in modern times. (Let’s face it, if it did, Billy Crudup and Tom Brady would be living very different lives).

What’s the meaning of the movie Shotgun Wedding?

Tom’s Joshua Duhamel has not impregnated Jennifer Lopez’s Darcy in the movie. They are also not being forced into a union together. The title here refers to the fact that a couple of pirates arrived on the island and held everyone at gunpoint. At that very second, the couple had been getting cold feet. They might have called off the nuptials if they didn’t hear the sound of gunfire. The weapons, mostly machine guns and grenades with one or two shotgun blasts, forced the couple to reevaluate their relationship by literal gunpoint.

Ironically, the pirates and their plan to steal Darcy’s father’s money kept the lovebirds together.

What is a Shotgun Bride?

There is no current definition for “Shotgun Bride” from our friends at Merriam-Webster. Even a google search of the term leads us to more reports of “Shotgun Wedding or Marriage” that mean the same thing. We may safely assume this means a woman forcing a man to marry her at gunpoint.

However, there are a series of books called Shotgun Bride by author Linda Lael Miller. Labeled as a historical romance novel (looking at the cover, you’d have to think Fabio was once considered), that is described as, “One special lady will help this cowboy lawman win his father’s ranch — and steal his heart in the bargain….”

The official GoodReads synopsis says:

“Kade McKettrick’s got five mail-order brides-to-be camped out at the local hotel, all more than eager to provide him with the heir that will win him the Triple M ranch. But Kade, the newly appointed marshal, has his hands full with a troublesome outlaw gang. Why, then, is he so easily distracted by pretty “Sister Mandy” — who most assuredly is not the nun she claims to be? On the run from her outlaw stepfather, Mandy Sperrin hides beneath her solemn disguise, and vows to keep her wild, passionate nature from the respectable citizens of Indian Rock. Yet when the handsome marshal makes it clear that he wants her, Mandy gives in to her heated desires….”

Yup, it’s that kind of book.

Where did the term Shotgun Wedding come from?

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the phrase is an American colloquialism that comes from:

In later use implying a smooth-bore gun as distinguished from a rifle, which fires bullets. Typically used for hunting small animals, etc. Included in “etc.” is the image in shotgun wedding, a partially figurative phrase attested by 1903 in American English. Shotgun in reference to a house, shack, or other building with rooms all opening into a long, central hall is by 1938, probably so called from this arrangement.

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