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Playing With / Shotgun Wedding

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Basic Trope: A wedding that one party is forced into, usually because of unplanned pregnancy.

  • Straight: Charlie has been carrying on a secret affair with Bella Sue. Her parents find out and force him to take her hand in marriage, whether he likes it or not.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Charlie is visiting a rural town and meets Bella Sue, who's instantly charmed by his city boy ways. They have a one-night stand. The next morning, Bella's overprotective daddy catches him and threatens to kill him unless he marries his dear daughter right now.
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    • Literal shotguns are brought to the shotgun wedding.
    • Charlie must marry Bella Sue because he had one conversation with her.
    • Instead of just one gun there are multiple, e.g., Bella Sue's father forces Charlie up the aisle at gunpoint, but then Charlie pulls out his gun and threatens to shoot unless he (Charlie) doesn't have to marry Bella Sue, which leads Bella Sue pointing guns at both of them because she refuses to allow bloodshed on her wedding day, resulting in a Mexican Standoff.
    • The wedding guests know full well the circumstances of the wedding, so they pick up sides (either for the couple to be married or for them not to be married) and bring their guns, and then all hell breaks loose at the wedding.
  • Downplayed: Two characters were already engaged, but an unexpected pregnancy prompts their parents to force them to Altar the Speed.
  • Justified:
    • Charlie is a Jerkass who fully intended to take advantage of Bella Sue's crush on him and take off, not caring about any potential consequences she might face afterwards.
    • It's a mob wedding, and Carlito has to marry Big Al's daughter Isabelle so the rival family Carlito is part of doesn't go to war with Big Al's family. Carlito doesn't want to marry Isabelle, but Big Al really doesn't want Mob War to break out. So he gets goons with guns to force Carlito up the aisle. (This justifies both forcing and guns.)
  • Inverted:
    • Breakup Demand
    • Bella Sue is perfectly at ease with the affair, but Charlie has an attack of conscience and tries to haul her to the altar over the objection of both her and her family.
    • Charlie could also blackmail Bella Sue's parents into letting their daughter be married to him if he decides to marry her. (In effect, it's the groom who holds the shotgun to the parents!)
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    • Charlie and Bella Sue are forced to get a divorce at gunpoint by Bella Sue's daddy, who "never did like them city folk."
    • The parents force Bella Sue to marry Charlie if she objects.
    • Charlie's father is the one who forces him to marry Bella Sue at gunpoint, as a way of making his son take responsibility for his actions.
    • Bella Sue jokingly promises to marry Charlie. This prompts Charlie's parents to drag Bella Sue to the altar and stick the shotgun in her back. They don't trust those country folk to live up to their promises.
    • Inverted Exaggerated: Charlie forces Bella Sue's father to walk her up the aisle at gunpoint. (Right now, the groom's holding the gun.) Then all the groomsmen start pulling out guns when Bella Sue's father starts to drag her away from the altar.
  • Subverted:
    • After sleeping with Bella Sue, Charlie meets her father... who sternly lectures him on his behavior and expects him to do right by his daughter without threatening him with a shotgun if they don't get married right away.
    • Charlie laughs, disarms him, then beats him up in front of his screaming and crying daughter.
    • Bella Sue doesn't share her father's values and finds the situation kinda ridiculous, so she derails the whole thing by refusing to marry Charlie. After all, she knows damn well daddy's not gonna shoot her over it.
    • The Priest doesn't go through with it.
    • Charlie and Bella Sue were already planning on getting married, with a date at the church/courthouse set well ahead of time. Wanting to start having kids right away, they ditch the contraception. They just figured incorrectly that it would take longer to get Charlie Junior underway. She's still a pregnant bride, but it's a happy coincidence instead of the reason.
  • Double Subverted:
    • However, Charlie blows off his advice, and Daddy goes to get his gun and forces the issue.
    • Bella Sue has brothers; lots of them. At the sound of their beloved sister's cries, they all come running with knives and pitchforks. Charlie's laughter dies in his throat.
    • Charlie asks, Bella Sue initially refuses, then marries Charlie later when it feels right.
    • And then the priest gets a shotgun pointed at him for his trouble.
  • Parodied:
    • While driving through a rural area, Charlie notices Bella Sue standing by the roadside and cat-calls her. Daddy immediately shows up and shoves a gun barrel in his face.
    • Two shotguns are married by a NRA priest. Among the invites are several handguns, AK-47s, and a minigun.
    • Charlie knocks-up Bella Sue and is expecting this trope but he's a Lawyer and Bella Sue's Father says that he'd rather have a bastard in the family than a lawyer.
    • Charlie and Bella Sue say they're having a shotgun wedding... because they met over mutual love of guns, yet everybody else is surprised that Charlie is so happy.
    • The force-up-the-aisle weapon is a water pistol.
  • Zig Zagged: Bella Sue's dad doesn't care about whether Bella Sue has an affair with Charlie, and things seem to go OK for them. Then her older brother Sam shows up and, catching them in the act, cocks his shotgun and threatens to kill Charlie. But then Sam sees that it's Bella Sue Charlie's having sex with, and says, "Oh, it's just Bella Sue. Carry on. I thought you were having sex with my other sister, Annie Sue." Etc.
  • Averted:
    • City Slicker Charlie is visiting/stuck in the countryside. One of the following three situations:
      • Charlie doesn't even look at Bella Sue, the local girl, at all.
      • Charlie wants to have an affair with Bella Sue, but she doesn't go for it. (This might lead him to a more romantic attachment, but that's another trope).
      • Bella Sue's father doesn't give a damn what Bella Sue does with Charlie.
      • Bella Sue's father is angry, but he instead forces Charlie to leave immediately.
    • Bella Sue's father is genuinely pleased to meet Charlie, and offers him some money to take her on a date which he'd been doing in private already.
  • Enforced:
    • "This is a story about a City Slicker in the rural Deep South. Audiences expect that he fools around with a local girl and be forced to marry her at gunpoint."
    • "The audience ships Charlie and Bella Sue, but I just can't see him committing to her... how do we please the fans?" "Let's have Bella's father force them to marry!"
  • Lampshaded: "Yeah, okay, I admit to the affair. What do you plan to do about it?" *loud click* "You're not seriously going to - I do."
  • Invoked: Charlie and Bella Sue want to get married, but Bella Sue's father doesn't approve of Charlie and tries to pull a Parental Marriage Veto. Bella Sue then claims Charlie got her pregnant, figuring that her socially conservative father would rather let her marry Charlie than let her be an unwed mother.
  • Exploited:
    • Charlie and Bella Sue use a law stating that if a couple where neither is married or engaged have sex, and someone finds out, that they have to get married, in order to "have to" get married whether Bella Sue's dad likes it or not. In a place where Arranged Marriages are the norm, this may be used as a way to marry someone of one's own choosing.
    • Bella Sue uses The Baby Trap, to trick Charlie into staying with her.
  • Defied:
    • Charlie judges the situation based on Daddy's family values and:
      1. Buys his own gun.
      2. Plans a detailed escape.
    • Bella Sue wants a nice, peaceful, wedding, with a groom who's there because he wants to be, and asks her father to back down.
    • Charlie does the smart thing and keeps it in his pants, thus avoiding the issue entirely.
    • Charlie asks Bella Sue's father if he can get a stuffed crust pizza for his last meal.
  • Discussed: "It's always interesting to see what these young men come up with for wedding vows at gunpoint."
  • Conversed: Charlie asks Bella Sue one night: "Does your daddy have a shotgun?"
  • Implied:
  • Deconstructed:
    • Daddy's distrust and distaste of Charlie doesn't end after the wedding. ...Perhaps rightly so, since Charlie isn't content with his new bride; if he doesn't manage to get a divorce or have the marriage annulled, he takes out his frustration on Bella Sue.
    • Charlie and Bella Sue are actually seeing each other on a casual but fairly regular basis, and are happy with that... up until Bella Sue's father marches them to the altar at gunpoint, at which point neither of them are ready to take such a big step, and the relationship starts to fall apart.
  • Reconstructed:
    • Charlie can't stand being married to Bella Sue and she isn't happy either. She had her eyes on Chuck Fin! Then they spend time together,find out they have more in common then they thought and make the most of it.
    • They'd skited the issue many times. Bella Sue's father determined they had cold feet and needed an iron muzzle push in the right direction. They're soon Happily Married.
  • Played For Laughs: All four of Bella Sue's brothers-in-law were obtained the exact same way, and greet Charlie by saying, "Welcome to the family!", obviously suppressing laughter.
  • Played For Drama:
    • Charlie is already married but he can't tell Bella Sue's father that.
    • Charlie agrees to the marriage surprisingly easily, even offering to do it by the end of the week... then during the wedding, when everyone turns up, he and some thugs machine gun everyone in attendance. Turns out knocking Bella Sue up and getting forced into a Shotgun Wedding was a Batman Gambit designed to get her grandfather out of hiding since someone paid this Psycho for Hire to kill said grandpa—and the only way to lure him out of his hiding spot was his sentimentality over his granddaughter's wedding.
    • Bella Sue's father plans to kill Charlie behind Bella Sue's back once he has the chance. The wedding will keep his daughter's reputation clean and any potential children from being born out of wedlock, and once she's widowed she can go after that nice Chuck Fin boy she was always talking about.
    • Charlie raped Bella Sue...and she is being forced to marry him in order to protect her and her family's public image. Perhaps the only choice she has is "marry your rapist," or "be killed."

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