Whether it was for privacy reasons, a rush of spontaneity or just plain not wanting to plan a wedding, over the years a number of famous couples have eloped. They ditched the wedding frenzy and revealed their secret wedding ceremonies to the world after the fact. From courthouse vows to tropical nuptials, here are some of our favorite celebrity elopements.
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1939: Clark Gable and Carole Lombard
The Hollywood actors held a press conference to announce their nuptials after they eloped in 1939. It was Carole Lombard’s second marriage and Clark Gable’s third. They were happily married until the actress’s tragic death in a plane crash in 1942.
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1943: Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles
Rita Hayworth look overjoyed receiving her marriage license in Santa Monica, California with Orson Welles. For her second wedding, the bride wore a simple suit and veiled hat with a fan brooch on her lapel.
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1954: Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio
The press flooded San Francisco’s courthouse when news traveled that film star Marilyn Monroe and famous baseball player Joe DiMaggio were eloping in a civil ceremony. Sadly, they were married for less than a year.
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1957: Henry Fonda and Afdera Franchetti
Henry Fonda was introduced to Italian baroness Afdera Franchetti while he was filming War and Peace in Italy. Not long after meeting, they got married in Fonda’s New York apartment. Franchetti was Henry’s fourth wife.
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1959: Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher
Hollywood had a major celebrity scandal on their hands when Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher eloped in Las Vegas in 1959. The news of their affair was already in the tabloids, as Taylor was good friends with Fisher’s wife, Debbie Reynolds. The couple tied the knot on the same day his divorce papers came through.
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1959: Brigitte Bardot and Jacques Charrier
For her second marriage, Brigitte Bardot skipped the wedding gown and big church ceremony. Instead, the actress wore a pink gingham dress for her civil ceremony at city hall with French actor Jacques Charrier in Louveciennes, France.
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1966: Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow
Despite a nearly 30-year age difference, Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow wed on July 19, 1966. They got married in a small ceremony at The Sands Hotel in Las Vegas and had an intimate reception at Bill Goetz’s nearby estate afterward.
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1966: Brigitte Bardot and Gunter Sachs
Brigitte Bardot and her third husband, German businessman Gunter Sachs, walk through the airport after eloping in Las Vegas in 1966 a few weeks after they met. They were married for three years.
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1967: Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim
Friends of the newly-married couple throw rice at actress Jane Fonda and French director Roger Vadim, as they exit town hall in Saint-Ouen Marchefroy, France. The couple got married by a judge in a civil ceremony.
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1967: Raquel Welch and Patrick Curtis
Raquel Welch wore a white croquet sun dress to the courthouse in Paris to marry American film producer Patrick Curtis. The elopement was flooded with photographers who spotted the couple, ruining any chance of keeping it a secret.
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1972: Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner
While their first wedding in 1957 was beautiful, the union ended in divorce. Both parties moved on, with Wood marrying and having a child with Richard Gregson. But in 1972, Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner rekindled their relationship and remarried in a small ceremony on a 55-foot yacht.
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1976: Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson
Melanie Griffith met Don Johnson when she was only 14 years old, but it wasn’t until she turned 18 that Don proposed. “Melanie called at about 4 or 5 in the morning. We professed undying love and flew to Las Vegas and got married,” Don told PEOPLE. They divorced that same year, but remarried in 1989 and were together until 1996.
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1975: Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor
Although their relationship was highly publicized, their elopement when they married for a second time was a low-key affair. The couple said “I do” (again) in an outdoor ceremony in Botswana with just an official and a witness joining them.
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1987: Demi Moore and Bruce Willis
After just three months of dating, Demi Moore and Bruce Willis called a reverend from Las Vegas’s Little White Chapel and said “I do” in a suite at the Golden Nugget hotel. The couple had three daughters together, but split in 2000.
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1996: Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos
The actors started out as an on-screen couple on All My Children, which also blossomed off-screen. Their TV characters got married in an elaborate church ceremony, but Mark Consuelos and Kelly Ripa eloped in Las Vegas. “Right before we got married, we broke up,” Kelly revealed in a Comments by Celebs podcast. “We broke up and we got back together the day before we went off and eloped.”
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2000: Kim Kardashian and Damon Thomas
Before she was famous, the reality star eloped in Las Vegas at 19 with music producer Damon Thomas. However, it turns out she wasn’t exactly in the right state of mind. “I did ecstasy once, and I got married,” Kim Kardashian told her family on Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
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2000: Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie
After a whirlwind two month relationship, Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie shocked the world by eloping in Las Vegas in 2000. The couple — who first met on the set of Pushing Tin — kept it casual, opting for blue jeans and t-shirts.
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2003: Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced that they were expecting on December 3, and news of their elopement leaked just a few days later after they obtained a marriage license from the Santa Barbara courthouse. The secret wedding didn’t include any family or friends and the couple honeymooned in Mexico shortly after.
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2004: Britney Spears and Jason Alexander
Britney Spears was America’s sweetheart when news broke that she eloped with her childhood friend, Jason Alexander, on a New Year’s trip to Las Vegas in 2004. “She just came out and asked me,” Alexander told ABC News. “She was like, ‘Well, let’s get married.’ And I was like, ‘Sure. You know, let’s do this.'” Britney annulled the marriage, stating she “lacked understanding of her actions, to the extent that she was incapable of agreeing to the marriage.”
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2006: Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott
When Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott decided to say “I do,” they jetted off to Fiji for their big moment. Tori and Dean, who were both married when they met and became involved, got hitched on a private island a year after meeting.
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2006: Jack Black and Tanya Haden
Jack Black and his wife Tanya Haden first met in high school and later eloped in Big Sur, California in 2006. The notoriously private couple haven’t divulged any major details about their big day, but the bride’s father shared with PEOPLE that, “They love each other very much. We’re thrilled.”
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2007: Mel B and Stephen Belafonte
Mel B and her longtime friend, movie producer Stephen Belafonte, eloped in Las Vegas in 2007. The couple filed for their marriage license in Las Vegas county, but the whereabouts of their ceremony weren’t disclosed.
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2008: Jessica Alba and Cash Warren
Actress Jessica Alba and film producer Cash Warren eloped when she was nine months pregnant at the courthouse. In celebration of their 11th wedding anniversary, Cash shared details on Instagram: “It wasn’t the dream wedding you deserved, in fact, it was laughably awkward. Standing under an arch of dusty plastic flowers in the courthouse chapel, we held hands and said I Do. No friends or family in attendance … just you, me and the courthouse employee who served as our witness.”
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2008: Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds were one of Hollywood’s most elusive couples when they began dating in 2007. So, naturally, when they tied the knot, they opted for an elopement in Ryan’s native Canada. The ceremony was reportedly held at a wilderness retreat outside of Vancouver.
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2008: Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon
While at Mariah Carey’s mansion in the Bahamas, the pop star and Nick Cannon made things official in a surprise wedding. “We only told people who had to know. [To everyone else] we said we were [going to the Bahamas] for the video. If we brought a million people with us, it would’ve been obvious we weren’t shooting a video,” Mariah told PEOPLE. “We got married at sunset on the beach. We were trying to get the really golden light. The whole wedding was really beautiful and sweet. Being there with loved ones under the sky … it was a spiritual moment.”
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2008: Jason Biggs and Jenny Mollen
After meeting on a blind date, Jason Biggs and Jenny Mollen were smitten with one another. They eloped in Los Angeles and three months later had a small ceremony in Napa Valley with friends and family. “The newlyweds wanted to take in this moment without any distractions,” the couple’s publicist, Lisa Jammal, shared in a statement about their elopement.
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2008: Jewel and Ty Murray
Country singer Jewel wrangled herself a perfect match when she met professional rodeo rider Ty Murray. After 10 years together, they eloped in the Bahamas — just the two of them. “To pull off the wedding quietly made it magical,” Jewel told PEOPLE. The bride wore a Monique Lhuillier, while Murray kept it simple in jeans and cowboy boots. “It felt like we were the only ones in the world,” Ty said.
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2009: Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen
Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen got married in a church ceremony with only their parents in attendance, which they followed with a home reception. “We went back to the house and I barbecued aged New York strips. We had champagne, a cake, some ice cream. It was a great night. I think you always have this idea that weddings need to be 200 people and you invite everybody, and I’m all for it if people want to do that, but I think there was really something special about just having our parents there,” Tom told GQ.
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2010: Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem
While Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem have always been a tight-lipped couple, their simple elopement takes the cake for secret Hollywood weddings. In 2010, in front of only their family, the couple made it official at their friend’s home in the Bahamas.
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2010: Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart
Leave it to Harrison Ford to surprise even his guests at his wedding ceremony. In 2010, the Indiana Jones star and his longtime girlfriend, Calista Flockhart, pulled off an elaborate elopement that gathered their nearest and dearest without them even knowing it was a wedding. The couple chose the New Mexico governor’s mansion for their venue.
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