- Instead of getting married in a church or with an official ceremony, some TV characters have opted for last-minute weddings, often in another state.
- Popular TV couples – Zach and Kelly (“Saved by the Bell”), Leonard and Penny (“The Big Bang Theory”), and Rachel and Ross (“Friends”) – all were married in Las Vegas.
- Other couples, like Lorelai Gilmore and Christopher Hayden (“Gilmore Girls”), eloped in unexpected locations like Paris.
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Some people may have been surprised by Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner’s sudden wedding in Las Vegas in early May, but getting eloped isn’t unheard of in the United States.
According to Nevada marriage records, an average of 120,000 people get married in Las Vegas each year and almost 90% of those couples elope from another state.
So, of course, the popularity of elopements will get reflected in pop culture. Las Vegas, for example, has been a popular destination for some of your favourite TV couples over the years.
From Penny and Leonard to Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, here are 10 TV couples that eloped.
1. Zack and Kelly went to Vegas to get married on “Saved by the Bell.”
On the series finale of “Saved By the Bell: The College Years,” Zack and Kelly elope to Las Vegas after Zack’s father refuses to fund a wedding ceremony. With $US1,000 saved up, Zack, Kelly, Slater, Screech, and Lisa hit the road for Vegas.
Following a few hiccups along the way, which includes a short stint in jail for the guys, Zack arrives in Vegas with empty pockets. In order to save up money for a Vegas wedding, Zack and his friends get mixed in with thugs, car chases, and a diamond heist. Before Zack and Kelly get married at the chapel, Zack’s parents burst in to proclaim their support for the union. With their blessing, the gang goes to a nearby park for a slightly more upscale wedding.
2. Nathan and Haley eloped the same day they got engaged on “One Tree Hill.”
On the teen drama “One Tree Hill,” Nathan and Haley were one of the central couples on the show. Although they later had a public vow renewal in front of their friends and family, the two became engaged and eloped on the same day during their junior year of high school.
On the season one finale, “The Games That Play Us,” a priest married Nathan and Haley along a beach as they exchanged rings. With the sun setting behind them, Nathan vowed, “Someday, this beach might wash away, the oceans may dry, the sun could dim but on that day, I’ll still be loving you.”
3. Rachel and Ross got drunkenly hitched in Las Vegas on “Friends.”
On “Friends,” Rachel and Ross’ will-they won’t-they relationship is as notable as the show itself. Before the two properly got together at the end of the series, Rachel and Ross got hitched in Las Vegas on the season five two-part finale “The One in Vegas.”
After getting drunk in Ross’ hotel room and playing blackjack, the pair decided to go to the casino with marker drawings scrawled all over their faces. At the same time, Monica and Chandler proclaim their love for each other and flirt with the idea of getting married in Vegas. As they head down to tie the knot themselves, they come face to face with Ross and Rachel as they burst out of the chapel and announce their drunken marriage.
5. On “Dharma and Greg” the titular couple got married in Reno after their first date.
For most of the shows on this list wedding episodes are reserved for season finales, but for “Dharma and Greg” the entire show is set off by a surprise elopement.
On the pilot episode, Greg and Dharma spot each other on the subway and can’t get each other off their minds. In one whirlwind day, Dharma and Greg go to a baseball game and then travel for the best pie in Reno, where they get married in the spur of the moment. Their marriage in Reno is the start of the show’s premise: two people who fall in love at first sight only to realise later that they’re complete opposites.
6. Jim and Pam were privately married under Niagara Falls in “The Office.”
On “The Office,” Jim and Pam arranged for their wedding to happen in Niagara Falls as a way to discourage their coworkers from attending the ceremony, but the plan backfired when their boss Michael granted everyone the day off to travel up for the wedding.
Throughout the “Niagara” episode Jim and Pam find it hard to enjoy a moment to themselves as their friends and family add stress to their day. At the last minute, Jim and Pam steal away from the church and get married on a boat.
“The boat was actually Plan C, the church was Plan B, and Plan A was marrying her a long, long time ago,” Jim told the documentary crew after their private ceremony. “Pretty much the day I met her.”
7. Leonard and Penny eloped in Vegas on “The Big Bang Theory.”
On the season nine premiere of “The Big Bang Theory,” Penny and Leonard head to Las Vegas to elope. After a fight in the car during their road trip to Nevada, Leonard and Penny seem determined to get married even as little things go wrong all around them.
Eventually, they realise that they don’t need a perfect wedding day to be happy – despite there being a strip club next door and a waiting list at the chapel. They live stream their wedding as their friends watch from home and exchange heartfelt vows that contain more than a few lines from the “Toy Story” song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”
9. Lorelai and Christopher eloped in Paris on “Gilmore Girls.”
On season seven, episode seven, “French Twist,” Lorelai and her old flame Christopher return from their trip abroad to Paris with a surprise: They got married!
For many fans, Lorelai and Luke were always meant to end up together and Lorelai’s short-lived marriage to Rory’s father seemed like a misguided plot point along the way. However, Lorelai’s spontaneous elopement with Christopher caused her to realise their relationship never matured past their teenage years and was better left in the past.
Even viewers who root for Luke and Lorelai have to admit that Lorelai’s Parisian wedding ultimately led her back to Luke.
10. Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark eloped in “Game of Thrones.”
In terms of impact, the secret marriage in “Game of Thrones” between Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark tops this list as an elopement that changed lives of an entire generation of characters.
On the season seven finale, “The Dragon and The Wolf,” Jon Snow is revealed to be the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna and the natural heir to the throne of Westeros, instead of the lowly bastard he believed himself to be. The ramifications of Rhaegar and Lyanna’s love affair and wedding in Dorne reverberate through the remainder of the show.