Perfectly Arranged Marriage

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Yesterday, my mom and dad told me I was getting engaged to the grandson of my grandfather's best friend. We're Japanese-American so it wasn't that unusual. So today I met my new fiancé and realized that it was the same guy that I spent 3 hours with on Facebook, debating whether Pokémon was better than Yu-Gi-Oh!. I think it's fate."

No one likes an Arranged Marriage, especially those so betrothed. They'll rip their clothes, gnash their teeth and swear to... was that them necking in the atrium?

Despite their initial opposition, the couple who have been betrothed discover they not only like each other, but love each other, and make it perfectly clear that even if they weren't in an arranged marriage they'd still choose to marry or at least start dating. Drama being what it is, you can expect their earlier attempts to undo the arranged marriage will mature and succeed, and their parents set them up with a new fiancée or fiancé that they do hate. Expect one or the other to be have to swallow their pride and come out and say they do love the other.

Another variant is that both meet outside of the home environment (before or after the declaration) without immediately recognizing each other. Maybe they ran away from home entirely, only to happily embrace "a fellow in misery" — and later commiserate about their bossy parents. Eventually, once they recognize one another their shared common ground helps them fall in love.

Sometimes this Perfectly Arranged Marriage doesn't come about randomly, but intentionally by parents. One or more of the parents involved who knows both well enough has arranged the marriage since both are highly compatible and could naturally fall in love. In fact, this is kind of the purpose of an 'arranged marriage' in the first place. It is akin to a matchmaking service, and the couple will generally have some sort of courtship before tying the knot, and it's very rare for someone to be forced to marry a person they despise (unless dowry is involved, of course).

This trope is frequently used as a justification for the use of the Arranged Marriage trope to audiences with Western sensibilities. It's not an imposition or violation of free will if both want to get married, after all.

Examples of Perfectly Arranged Marriage include:

Anime and Manga

  • Ai Yori Aoshi is this without the Slap Slap Kiss start. The difference occurs because the families had annulled the arranged marriage before the plot even began, and they felt otherwise. Slap Slap Kiss wouldn't really be funny in the guy's case due to the Abusive Grandfather.
  • Albert and Eugenie's arranged marriage in Gankutsuou. Within about a dozen episodes, the two are well and truly in love. Too bad both got broken later.
  • This is pretty much the entire premise for the popular Manhwa Goong.
  • In Black Butler, 10 year old Ciel has an Arranged Marriage with his cousin Elizabeth. Interestingly enough, even from the beginning there's no objections or Slap Slap Kiss from either side, and both of them take it as being natural and are rather fond of each other. Of course, they are only kids...
  • Shaman King, between Yoh and Anna. She, at least, is definitely in love with him (she comes right out and admits it at least once, although not to Yoh's face). Yoh's feelings, while a little more ambiguous, definitely include affection for Anna (albeit mixed in with a healthy dose of fear). Actually, during the Osorezan Revoir Arc - where we see Anna and Yoh's first meeting - it's explicitly shown that it was, in fact, Yoh who was the first to fall in love. To the surprise of many.
  • Yomi and Noriyuki in Ga-Rei Zero.
  • In Maison Ikkoku, Shun Mitaka is introduced to Asuna Kujou by way of an omiai arranged by his uncle. She is head over heels in love with him. He, on the other hand, objects strongly to the union at first, partially because he is in love with Kyouko, but also because of her large number of dogs, of which he is deathly afraid. However, after accidentally proposing to her due to a misunderstanding, he warms up to the idea a bit more, and eventually falls in love and marries her.
  • Yura Kawada and Makoto Onoda, the main couple in Futari Ecchi. In a variation, the relationship is arranged via a matchmaking service.
  • San and Nagasumi's marriage in Seto no Hanayome qualifies. (Although their marriage wasn't exactly arranged, it was most certainly forced upon them nonetheless... either they got married, or one of them would have to die.)
  • In Basilisk, Gennosuke Koga and Iga-no-Oboro's betrothal is arranged in order to put an end to the long-standing war between their respective families. Conveniently, they both fall in Love At First Sight (as kids, in the anime; as adults, in the manga). Later, of course, things go straight to hell And they end up Together in Death.
  • Mai-Otome goes through the setup for this with Mashiro and Takumi - both escape from an arranged meeting that Mashiro's staff hopes will lead to better things and meet incognito in the poor side of town. Mashiro is definitely crushing big-time on Takumi by the end - and then he gives a scathing critique of her performance as queen, and his aides announce that the purpose of the visit was to announce the complete isolation of Takumi's kingdom.
  • Played with in Vision of Escaflowne, with Princess Millerna Sarah Aston and Prince Dryden Fassa. She and Dryden are a mild version of Belligerent Sexual Tension as Millerna's put off by his Rich Idiot With No Day Job facade and Dryden is a snarky Guile Hero. (Not to mention Milly has a huge crush on Allen). They grow fond of each other as the series advances, and then they get married - but It Gets Worse. And when it's all solved, Dryden calls off the engagement: he cares for Millerna, and might be in love with her at that point, but he feels he still has to work hard to become truly worthy of marrying a girl like her.
  • Played with in a story in Pet Shop of Horrors. The ghost of a queen tells Count D about how she and her husband were betrothed as children, hated each other for much of their marriage, and cheated on each other constantly. She then fell deathly ill for a period of time and, when she recovered, found her husband at her side. That incident made them realize how much they cared for each other and they were faithful and loving to each other from that day onward.
  • Used in 70's shoujo manga Haikara-san ga Tooru, where the Hanamura and Ijyuin clans arrange a marriage between Benio Hanamura and Shinobu Iijyuin before they were even born. Plucky Girl Benio refuses the idea at first, but when she sees that Shinobu is a genuinely Nice Guy who does care for her, she starts falling for him. And then, they become Star-Crossed Lovers. Until the Bittersweet Ending, that is.
    • There's also a variant in this: Benio and Shinobu's engagement was arranged as a sort-of compensation for a love match that couldn't be consummated, between Benio's now-deceased grandfather and Shinobu's beloved grandmother that raised him instead of his parents. Therefore, Shinobu initially accepted the arrangement more calmly than Benio because he wanted to fulfill a promise to his grandma that was made decades ago, and then he met Benio and fell for her genuinely.
  • Teharu Kosukegawa in Change 123 finds out that his father has engaged him to marry the daughter of the man who saved him from a bear. Kosukegawa, who is already in a close relationship with Motoko (Multiple Personalities notwithstanding (they're even helping)), and naturally goes up to the country to politely turn her down. Until the girl in question turns out to be Motoko.

Comic Books

  • Karolina and Xavin of Runaways end up like this. Before Xavin got Put on a Bus, that is.
  • Crystal and Ronan the Accuser during War of Kings. Kind of. Crystal starts off hating Ronan and eventually begins to admire him and understand that he's in basically the same situation that she is.
  • Doctor Strange's manservant Wong was betrothed as a child to a girl who wasn't even born yet. Nevertheless, he has no problem falling in love with Imei once they meet, though she dies before they can get married.

Fan Works

  • The main characters of Terms Of Engagement have this. Saito realizes how perfect the match is when he finds out his fiance Tokio has spent the fic disguised as two different people, secretly terrorizing him and his best friend, running a spy ring and executing a Batman Gambit.
  • Chapter 10 of a Detective Conan fic, 30 Hugs: Heiji and Kazuha. In a slight variation, they had the Slap Slap part down just fine, but it wasn't until after they found out about the marriage that they realized the Kiss part sounded pretty nice too. They still freaked out about it immediately upon realization, but calmed down and came to their senses eventually.
  • In Through a Diamond Sky, it's implied that Tron and Yori were "bundled" as one of these when their Users decided to team them up. Of course, it kinda helped that their Users became Happily Married.
    • As the Fridge Brilliance page for Tron points out, the Yori program is an admin-level debugging utility and the Tron program is the firewall. Even in canon they pretty much are designed for each other.
  • In Blind, a Naruto Fanfic, 99% of arranged marriages with a Hyuga end up this way. How you ask? Well, the bride and groom are told at the age of 3 who they're arranged to marry but told that the other person doesn't know. They then have the option of trying to win the other person's love but have until they are 15 as they have to tell their spouse about the arrangement and when they're 16 they marry whether there is love or isn't. Many chose former.
  • The Ranma ½ Alternate Universe Fic You've Got Ranma by Jennifer Morales builds up to an omiai where Ranma and Akane meet and discover that not only are they each being engaged to the person they're already romantically involved with (unknown to their families), they learn that they are also each other's pseudonymous Internet friend who have acted as sounding boards and coaches during the birth and growth of their real-world relationship.


  • In Corpse Bride, Victor is apprehensive about being put into an arranged marriage... until he actually meets his bride-to-be, Victoria, and finds her gentle intelligence very appealing.
  • Disney's Sleeping Beauty. "Father, you're living in the past. This is the Fourteenth Century!" declares Prince Phillip. Luckily the girl he met in the woods turns out to be the princess he's promised to.
    • It works with the princess herself as well. Aurora aka Briar Rose is understandably devastated when she finds out about her arranged marriage to Prince Phillip (not to mention, well, the poor girl has just found out that her whole life is a lie), until she discovers that Prince Phillip and that nice guy she met in the forest are the same person.
  • A sort-of example in The Lion King. Simba and Nala both recoil a bit when they're told that they were betrothed when they're children, but neither makes much attempt to foil the marriage as Simba goes into self-imposed exile for unrelated reasons long before that becomes an issue. When they meet again as adults, however, they follow the rest of the trope to the letter.
    • And Simba's initial reaction has nothing to do with not liking Nala (they're best friends, after all), and everything to do with him apparently being at the Girls Have Cooties age.
  • The Swan Princess toys with this. Prince Derek and Princess Odette, the heirs of two neighboring kingdoms, are betrothed to each other by her widowed father and his widowed mother, who are good friends and want to unite their realms. The arrangement annoys them because they're kids and hate each other. Then one day they meet each other after puberty, and it's Love At First Sight! Derek demands that the wedding be arranged, but when Odette asks him why, he replies that she's beautiful...and when she asks "What else?" he replies, "What else is there?" (cue the mass Face Palm from the guests) Odette promptly refuses to marry him until he is able to find a reason he loves her besides her looks; he does, and they are happily married in the end, so the trope is ultimately played straight.
    • They're not actually stated to be betrothed, though; the arrangement is just that they'll spend the summer together. William, Uberta and the citizens of both kingdoms expect Derek and Odette will fall in love and get married, but there doesn't seem to be any legal agreement.
  • The movie Lady Jane depicts this between Lady Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley. Not a case of Truth in Television, unfortunately for the ill-fated Jane.
  • Monsoon Wedding starts with the arranged couple feeling very awkward in each other's company, and there are some complications with her old flame, but by the end, the two of them are taking quite a liking to each other.
  • Jodhaa Akbar focuses on this. Being married to someone who looks like Hrithik Roshan or Aishwarya Rai probably doesn't hurt their mutual love, however.
  • In the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie Loving Leah, Jake Lever (Andy Kaufman) seems to be trying less and less hard to get out of his levirate marriage to his late brother Benjamin's wife Leah as the film progresses. The fact that she's played by Lauren Ambrose might have something to with it...
  • The first of the infamous Sisi movies with Romy Schneider and Karl Boehm describes Sisi and Franz's love deals as this, as the Lonely Rich Kid Emperor is fascinated by the Manic Pixie Dream Girl lead female who comes as her Ojou sister and his betrothed's travel companion, so he plays a small Batman Gambit to get her engaged to him instead. In Real Life however, things weren't exactly that way.
  • In the fantasy film Krull, the hero and his girlfriend are the children of rival kings who come together to form an alliance against the movie's Big Bad. The princess gets kidnapped during the wedding and the hero goes off to save her. Their love actually turns out to be the final weapon that offs the main villain.
  • Emperor Pu Yi and Empress Wang Rong in The Last Emperor, since Pu Yi's dream girl was "a modern wife who could follow the new dances and was educated outside China" and she fitted in perfectly. It didn't last, though.
  • Not exactly marriage, but in My Sassy Girl the male lead puts off his aunt's attempts to introduce him to her late son's former girlfriend because he is already interested in the female lead. The female lead meanwhile has been putting off meeting her dead boyfriend's cousin at his mother's request because of her budding interest in the male lead. At the end of the movie it's revealed that the male lead's aunt is the female lead's dead boyfriend's mother. This startling coincidence convinces the pair to give their romance another chance.
  • The leads of Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! meet and begin to gravitate around each other because their older siblings enter in one of these.


  • Endon and Sharn in Deltora Quest.
  • Occurs twice in the Realm of the Elderlings series by Robin Hobb; in both cases a Farseer prince was engaged to a foreign princess to secure an alliance and the couple ended up falling in love. The second one ended quite well, the first one less so.
  • In The Riftwar Cycle, Prince Arutha is head over heels over Princess Anita, and is extremely lucky that their marriage is also extremely politically beneficial for the Kingdom.
    • Of course, in this case the marriage wasn't technically arranged. Their fathers had been considering arranging said marriage, but then the Riftwar broke out and they found themselves occupied with that and never got around to actually betrothing their children before they both died. Arutha proposed to Anita on his own initiative after the war ended.
  • Garion and Ce'Nedra in The Belgariad are betrothed by a five-hundred-year-old treaty between their countries, not to mention that prophecy thing. True to the trope, they engage in quite a bit of Slap Slap Kiss, but also played with in that neither knew about the arrangement[1] until after they'd gotten acquainted and fallen in love anyway. This also happens for some background characters like Barak and his wife, but that's what you get when most of the characters belong to the aristocratic class in a medieval fantasy book.
    • It runs in the family—Garion's ultimate ancestors Riva and Beldaran are another example, helped along by a similarly heavy dose of Because Destiny Says So.
    • Another notable case happens in Polgara's backstory. In order to alleviate the Arendish civil wars, it was necessary to wed off two teenaged members of opposing houses, who naturally hated each other. Polgara's solution was to lock them in a room together and wait 'til the shouting stopped, after which things turned out all right.
      • She did have to prudently remove all sharp (and blunt, and heavy) objects from the room first, though.
    • It's actually mentioned that this is one of the rewards for any of the couples put together like this; the prophecy that's forcing them together also ensures that they'll be happy together. Whether this means it'll control their minds to make them feel happy, or it only forces together people who're actually suited to each other anyway, is an open question.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms does this for Liu Bei and Lady Sun (or Sun Shang Xiang in the period operas), despite the fact that it didn't turn out so well in actual history.
  • Wielding A Red Sword in Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series. Mym and Rapture (prince and princess in India) are put in an arranged marriage by their parents. After spending some time in a magical castle, they fall in love and agree to the marriage.
    • This actually has to do with the nature of the magic castle; The most obvious thing is that in the castle, they can hear each other's thoughts and feel each other's feelings, meaning they can't help but get to know each other. So they stay in different parts of the castle, thinking that putting some distance between them will lessen the effect. Not only does that not work, but they soon find out that there is a spirit/demon/creature thing that will terrorize the princess if she's away from the prince, and due to the castle's first effect, he feels her fear. (Because, naturally, it just wouldn't work the other way around.) And worst of all, by the time they finally come around and learn to love each other, the princess's nation falls out of favor with the prince's, and the prince's parents stick another princess in the castle with him so he can do it all over again. This time, he and princess #2 opt to escape.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson's The Black Arrow has a particularly good example. Joanna Sedley gets kidnapped from her first arranged marriage by hero Dick Shelton's Wicked Guardian, who intends to force her to marry Dick. The two end up running for their lives from outlaws together, except he doesn't know who she is — and she's been forced to dress as a boy and he doesn't see through the disguise. It's all very complicated and loaded with UST.
  • Machado de Assis wrote a short about a couple falling in love with each other while teaming up to prevent their own Arranged Marriage.
  • Not quite, but in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Mara comments on how her marriage to Luke seems like The Force arranged it. But the UST was all much earlier.
  • In The Mote In God's Eye, aristocrats Rod and Sally return from their expedition to the Moties to find they are being shepherded into an arranged marriage. Fortunately, they'd already fallen in love.
  • In Warbreaker, Siri and Susebron fall in love. This is particularly surprising, given that he originally seems like an Evil Overlord and she's been sent to keep him from invading her country.
  • In By Schism Rent Asunder, King Cayleb of Charis marries Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm in what was originally a cold-hearted political move to unite their kingdoms. When they finally meet, it is Love At First Sight.
    • Also Princee Nahrmahn of Emerald and his wife were betrothed at a young age, and eventually ended up falling in love, much to their mutual surprise.
  • The comedy/satire Leonce and Lena by Georg Bachner.
  • In The Swans War trilogy, a marriage is arranged between Lady Elise and Prince Michael by their evil relatives. Both of them like each other very much when they meet and agree to do everything they can to avoid being forced to marry. That is because an alliance of their houses will empower their evil relatives even more and can produce a heir to the mythical, non-existent throne of the country, ushering in a devastating war.
  • Signe and Guibor de Barbentain, in A Song For Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay. An unusual example, in that it is not supposed to please modern sensitivitities - all nobles are in arranged marriages, most of them polite and civil, some downright unhappy. Signe and Guibor are introduced as a true exception, an arranged marriage that also happens to be a lovematch. Of course, when they are introduced, Guibor has been dead for a year, and Signe is an old woman left with happy memories.
  • In Kushiel's Legacy, Queen Ysandre de la Courcel married Cruarch Drustan mab Necthana because they loved each other. The fact that their marriage saved Terre D'Ange from an invading horde and restored Drustan to his throne is, in fact, coincidental.
  • Llewelyn and Joanna in Sharon Kay Penman's Here Be Dragons.
  • Eddard "Ned" Stark and Catelyn Tully from A Song of Ice and Fire. She was engaged to his older brother Brandon and he was (or at least was rumored to be) in love with a woman called Ashara Dayne. Brandon was killed as part of a mass execution that kicked off a war, and their marriage was hastily set up to keep a Stark-Tully alliance. They have five children and are still having good sex as the first book starts.
    • Also from the series, Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo, who unexpectedly become very close soon after their marriage and are quickly eager to start a family.
    • Also, Edmure and Roslin, despite the wedding itself turning out... badly.
    • Subverted with Joffrey Baratheon and Sansa Stark. Set up as teens, Sansa does actually fall for Joffrey. Then he killed her father, and everything went to hell.
  • Pretty much every arranged marriage, whether on the Roman or the Indian side, in the Belisarius Series.
  • In Spock's World, a Star Trek novel by Diane Duane, one of the stories from Vulcan's history is of a girl who is able to kill with her mind when she is angry. She has killed two potential husbands this way. She is forced into a third marriage for political reasons, and is sure he will end up as the other two. Then they meet and argue and fall in love. What happens when her husband is killed is the main reason Vulcans have discouraged marrying for love.
  • In Victoria Ugryumova's Doppelganger for the Jester, a political marriage between The Emperor and a Princess Classic turns out to be so happy for both parties that even his closest advisers wonder whether he is sick or something. His answer? "Gods, I can't believe I've fallen in love with my own wife." It doesn't end well.
  • Lynn Flewelling's Tamir Triad offers us Duke Rhius and Princess Ariani (parents of the main character); as Rhius put it: "I was in love with Ariani and her brother was in love with my holdings.". Played straight since they deeply loved each other when they married. And also subverted when later Ariani turned mad after her son was killed right after birth to save his twin sister and started hating her husband since he knew and allowed.
  • It's not an arranged relationship, since they were already romantically involved, but it is literally an arranged marriage when Granny Weatherwax basically intimidates Verence into skipping the marriage proposal and going straight to the part where he sets a date for the wedding, sends out invitations, and gets the dress made without even consulting Magrat about it in Lords and Ladies.

"Magrat": It was all arranged! It was all set up before I even got here! I never had a chance to say yes or no!
"Nanny": Well, what would you have said if you had had the chance?
"Magrat" : Well, I...
"Nanny": You'd still be marrying the king today, would you?
"Magrat": Well...
"Nanny" : You do want to marry the king, don't you?
"Magrat" : Well, yes, but...
"Nanny" : That's nice, then.

  • In The Long-Nosed Princess by Patricia Hallowell the eponymous Princess Felicity is arranged to marry the very handsome prince of a neighboring country but he rejects her insultingly at first sight breaking her heart. Not because she's fallen in love but because he's destroyed her self image. Later while on his way to court another princess he is attacked by Felicity's animal friends and she nurses him back to health. Why does he find himself thinking of Felicity constantly while courting the incredibly beautiful princess? And what is he going to do about that grinning fool of a Prince Harry who thinks he's going to marry Felicity?
  • King Kelson of Katherine Kurtz Deryni series has truly rotten luck with his brides. His first marriage is a politically important match to a princess of a rival house who, better still, has been raised to regard him as hellspawn. Needless to say Kelson is incredibly nervous but the girl is young and beautiful - and he is seventeen - so by the time the wedding day rolls around he's convinced he's falling in love and there are indications that the girl may be too. Unfortunately Kelson is widowed before the ceremony ends. In the next book he falls in love with a perfectly acceptable princess - who due to convolutions of plot is rendered politically impossible as his wife. It is she who arranges for Kelson to marry his final prospect, a cousin who is a really ideal match from the political point of view. At first Kelson, still desperately in love with the other lady, can hardly bear the thought of marrying elsewhere but as he gets to know Araxie better the marriage becomes less and less distasteful to him...
  • In Chronicles of Amber, this happens to Random and Vialle — where Random was forced to marry Vialle as punishment for past peccadilloes, and to grant status to a girl without good prospect whom Moire wanted at her court when Random will be thrown out. And then they hit it off. When he is arrested for attempting to assassinate his brother, she asks to join him in prison.
    • The author stacked his deck here a bit by making Vialle such a Nice Girl that not falling in love with her would require Random to be either already committed elsewhere, gay, or a hideous misanthrope. (Hint: he's none of the above).
    • It was also very lucky for Amber later.
  • 1632: Prince Ulrik of Denmark and Princess Kristina of Sweden are headed this way. They aren't in love yet (something to do with him being in his thirties and her being only nine), but they are very close.
  • The book Heroics for Beginners has this with the main character and his love interest; they met and fell in love before her father started looking for a husband for her, and so she intentionally became cold and unpleasant to all other potential suitors to put them off. Mention is also made of another prince whose family refused to let him marry until he was thirty and then betrothed him to a six-year-old girl; ten years later, he is the most envied man on the continent.
  • Arranged Marriage is the rule for the Political and Officer classes in W.C. Dietz's Crisis of Empire trilogy. Usually friendly enough but neither party minds much when circumstances require a divorce so one or both can make a better match. This is not the case with Allison Spencer and Bethany Windsor. They are in love and blissfully happy - until Pact politics tear them appart giving Bethany to her Senator uncle's new military ally General Anson Merikur. At first she hates him - though she knows it wasn't his doing. Then she finds herself drawn to him...
  • In Dune, Duke Leto Atreides' bound-concubinage to Lady Jessica is arranged by the Bene Gesserit as a means to get to the Kwisatz Haderach; Jessica was supposed to have a daughter who could be bred to a Harkonnen son and take the throne from there. However, Jessica and Leto do fall in love, and Jessica chooses to bear him an heir, Paul, who as it turns out is the Kwisatz Haderach—and that kicks off the whole epic.
    • Additionally, the marriage of Count Hasimir Fenring to the Bene Gesserit Sister Margot, seems to have been quite happy despite having been arranged for political reasons (not genetic ones, however, as Hasimir is a "genetic eunuch"—probably means he got snipped).
  • The narrator-protagonist of The Bronze God of Rhodes by L. Sprague de Camp comes to see his Arranged Marriage as this. He originally objected, saying he wanted a more exciting woman than the girl his father had picked out for him. After some experience with a more exciting woman, he began to notice how appealing Dad's "sweet, docile" choice really was. By the end of the book, he considers his marriage to her happy and loving. It plays very little actual part in the story, though.
  • Inversion: Vorkosigan Saga the long-awaited (and eagerly urged by his chaos fearing subjects) marriage of Emperor Gregor is a love match that turns out to be politically advantageous, crossing a delicate ethnic divide among the people's in his realm and raising a distinguished trading family to Imperial influence. This is after Gregor spent over ten years turning down attempts to arrange his marriage to any one of hundreds of eligible noblewomen, both because he was waiting for a love match and because of his fears of aristocratic inbreeding (a problem his family line had already manifested badly).

Lady Alys Vorpatril: Since your mother would not bestir herself in that department, I have by default been supervising Gregor's bride-search for the last decade. And a frustrating task it has been. I mean, he'd just sit there, and stare at me, with this dreadful, doleful, Why are you doing this to me? look on his face. I think I've paraded every tall, slim, Vor beauty on the planet past him at one time or another, to the great disruption of their lives and the routines of their families; I've offered dozens of resumes... nothing worked. I swear, Gregor has been even more frustrating than Ivan, and Ivan has lost so many good opportunities... A certain nameless wit, or half-wit, even whispered I ought to start trying boys, but I pointed out that would not solve the heir problem, which is the whole point of the exercise in the first place.
Lord Miles Vorkosigan: Not without a great deal of unprecedented genetic engineering interference. No, not boys, not Gregor. But not a Vor either. I had that figured out years ago—I wish you'd have asked me. Gregor's even more closely related to Mad Emperor Yuri than I am. And, um . . . he knows more about his father, the late unlamented Crown Prince Serg, than I think my parents might wish. He has these historically well-founded genetic paranoias about —well—paranoia. And about Vor inbreeding. He'd never let himself fall in love with another Vor.
Lady Alys: I eventually figured out the Vor part for myself. It left me with a dilemma, as you may imagine.

    • Similarly in Captain Vorpatril's Alliance Ivan marries Tej out of pure compassion and stays with her out of love because she is on the run from gangsters. The original goal is to keep immigration service from deporting her to where she is vulnerable to said gangsters, and the long-term goal is - as Ivan is a close friend and cousin of the Emperor - give her a skilled (and sometimes ruthless) security service as her "bodyguards-in-law". When her father, comes back to gather the family for a war of revenge against the enemy Tej had been fleeing from he impatiently berates her for not taking one of all the many marriages he had so patiently tried to arrange. In reality Ivan, who is a close cousin to both the Emperor of Barrayar and the tremendously influential Count Vorkosigan simultaneously, and is the 'spare heir' for both families, has enough connections to give the family a better deal then it could have ever dreamed of getting. It is just that he never arranged the deal and Tej got it just by falling in love.
      • In both those cases the results were what a Vor-paid matchmaker would want. The way they went about was different though. While said matchmaker might indeed have considered it a good idea to marry the Emperor into the richest family on Komarr she would never have dreamed of matching Ivan with a Mafia Princess and indeed would have had to be farther into ImpSec clearance levels than her vocation gets to know about the political usefulness of it.

Live-Action TV

  • The Golden Girls: Rose's cousin Sven is scheduled for an arranged marriage, but falls for Blanche instead. When the arranged bride shows up, she's a gorgeous Swedish girl, and he drops Blanche like a hot potato.
  • Posca and Jocasta on Rome. It's also implied that Vorenus and Niobe were an arranged match.
  • George and Susan on Alien Nation, being former slaves, were paired up by an overseer.
  • On Angel: Not exactly a marriage, but Cordelia's objections to her required ritual "com-shuk" with the "Groosalug" get a lot less strenuous once she gets a good look at him, and even less so once they start to talk. A very sweet (if eventually doomed) relationship results.
  • In The Onedin Line James and Anne Onedin were their own matchmakers so to speak, having found it useful to marry each other to smooth out the legal details of a business alliance. As a bonus they happened to fall in love with each other. But don't tell anyone else.
  • Deconstructed on an episode of Merlin. After Guinevere is Mistaken for Cheating and banished from Camelot, Arthur becomes engaged to Princess Mithian. She's beautiful, charming and witty. She effortlessly integrates herself at court and proves herself to be quite politically savvy. Their marriage will solve the land dispute between their kingdoms. They get along well and have plenty of things in common. In many ways she's designed to be a better match for Arthur than Guinevere, and had they met at any other time or place (or in any other story) they probably would have ended up Happily Married. But unfortunately for Mithian, Arthur comes to realize that he's still deeply in love with Guinevere, and can't bring himself to give her up - not even for the perfect woman.


  • The song Do You Love Me? from Fiddler on the Roof is about this, although the couple have been married for decades, with several children.
  • In Tom Robbins' Jitterbug Perfume, Kudra's first husband turns out to be awesomer than expected and then promptly dies.
  • The Swan Princess. Although other complications happen.
  • The Moliere play Les Fourberies de Scapin.
  • In The Tempest, Prospero's plan is for Ferdinand (his rival's son) and Miranda to fall in love at first sight so that they'll marry and reconcile a dispute between their families. Which they do. He makes sure Ferdinand means it by pretending to oppose the match.
  • Similarly, the fathers in The Fantasticks intend for their children to marry, so they fake a feud and forbid the boy and girl to speak to each other. It works... at least at first.
  • Arthur and Guenevere have a moment like this in Camelot, though given what happens later, it counts as dramatic irony.
  • In The Game of Love and Chance (Le Jeu de l'amour et du hasard) by Marivaux, Silvia and Dorante are engaged without knowing each other. They disguise themselves as servants, meet and fall in love, without either one knowing that the other is their betrothed.

Video Games

  • We have a few in the Dynasty Warriors games, namely those between Sun Ce and his blood brother Zhou Yu and the Qiao sisters. Despite knowing very little about their future mates and having completely opposite personalities, both couples are shown to be very happy. Same goes for Liu Bei and Sun Shang Xiang.
    • Historically, the marriage between Lady Sun and Liu Bei went terribly. She never permitted him to spend time alone with her, outfitting her maids with weapons to make sure of this, and the instant he went to war with her family she left him.
  • The backstory of Dream Chronicles reveals that in the fairy world, fairies go through politically arranged marriages and that love was an alien concept among them until Aeval and Tangle, betrothed to each other, ended up genuinely falling in love and choosing to live in the mortal world so that their son Fidget could marry for love. Unfortunately, Lilith, the fairy Fidget was betrothed to, is not pleased when she finds out that he's married Faye, the human player character. And thus Faye's problems begin...
  • The City Elf origin story in Dragon Age can be like this if you choose the right dialogue. Of course, then it all goes horribly wrong...
    • Cailan and Anora appear to have been this as well...though that didn't end well either.
  • The marriage between Ashe and Rasler in Final Fantasy XII is like this, although it is established that they were close beforehand due to being the only heir of their respective thrones of two allied countries.
  • In Odin Sphere, Oswald 'wins' Gwendolyn's hand—complete with a spell that will make her love him—by Standard Hero Reward. As it turns out, the spell wouldn't have been necessary as Oswald genuinely loved her at first sight and goes through the effort trying to have the spell lifted, and discovers (after her literally going To Hell and Back for him) that Gwendolyn loves him without it. Which is a good thing too because Odin had never added the spell in the first place.
  • Oichi and Azai Nagamasa in Sengoku Basara. Unfortunately, Oichi's brother (who arranged the marriage in the first place) is the The Demon King, so all happiness went to hell, literally.

Web Comics

  • Girl Genius has Jiminez Hoffmann, officially an adopted son of the King of the Moligarchy (for saving his life) and Larana Chroma, princess of the Arguron, discover they are set up for a diplomatic marriage to bring the peace between the underground kingdoms. They are both students and know each other. The problem? He tend to be awkward around ladies and she is so awkward around him that the first time they are seen together, Zeetha comments "Everyone in Paris can't be like this. I mean, I've seen kids." She set them up for a proper talk, but wacky misunderstandings ensued.
  • No Need for Bushido may be subverting this; the arranged marriage was actually an assassination plot on one side. Both principals skipped, and they went through the Belligerent Sexual Tension phase. As of page 379, they have reached this trope. Probably.
  • Red String uses the "arranged couple meet without recognizing each other variant" before it turns out the arranged marriage was set up by the boy's mother so he'd at least have the chance to marry a spirited normal girl instead of a stuffy socialite as per his father's wishes. Then his father called it off.
  • There's one of these in the backstory of the Tsunami Channel comic Experimental Comic Kotone.
  • Garanos: The main character had one of these, but her fiance got kidnapped, and her current quest is to find him again.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons had it happen with Apu. He spends the entirety of one episode trying to get out of his arranged marriage, but when he meets the woman (Manjula) at the wedding he's instantly charmed (And, she points out, if it doesn't work they can always divorce).
    • Sadly, later episodes turn this into a subversion. Manjula grows distant after the birth of their octuplets, resulting in Apu having a brief affair, getting caught, and having to go to insane lengths to win Manjula back. The problem is, Manjula is still cold and distant, but now with added bitterness on top of it, making some fans wonder why he bothered. Even worse, post-affair Manjula's entire character has centered on her being a bitter harpy towards everybody, not just Apu.
  • Winx Club had this, although Layla's objection to being in an arranged marriage wasn't because she didn't like the guy (in fact, she didn't even know that he was her intended), but because she wanted to have the freedom to choose for herself. Once her parents stop making her be in an arranged marriage, it turns out the person she's chosen is actually arranged marriage guy.
    • This relationship also didn't last: the writers did the unthinkable the following season. They got the guy Killed Off for Real! Poor Layla.
  • According to supplementary materials, Ozai and Ursa in Avatar: The Last Airbender had this, though they grew distant later on.
    • Played With interestingly: Pakku and Kanna were engaged when they were younger, but she apparently didn't love him and ran off to the South Pole, having a more or less happy family with somebody else and becoming Katara and Sokka's grandmother. (Meanwhile, Pakku became really embittered towards women as a whole, and didn't get over it upon meeting Katara). They met decades later, and married in their senior years.
    • Or she could have liked him, but disliked the rigid social system in the North Water Tribe and then wasn't happy that Pakku didn't seem to support her own interests. She did take the necklace he made for her and cary it as a heirloom, then passed it on Katara.
  • Derek and Odette in The Swan Princess had their engagement arranged by their parents before they met. Interestingly, their parents also wanted it to be a marriage of love, so they had the kids spend every summer together. They couldn't stand each other at first, but end up falling for each other when they're older.

Real Life

  • Historically, the marriage of Joanna "the Mad" of Castile (daughter of the famous Reyes Catolicos Ferdinand and Isabella) to Philip the Handsome, Duke of Burgundy, turned out this way... too much. The two of them literally fell in love at first sight (Philip the Handsome was... well... handsome, and Joanna herself was by all accounts a stunning redhead), begging to have the marriage formalized the day they met so they could get it on right away; they had six children (including Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, for those who care). Eventually, things happened, Joanna started to get jealous, and eventually the jealousy had some kind of party in her head with a familial disposition towards insanity (in fact, it was something of a minor miracle that both of her parents were sound of mind, given that both were members of the ridiculously-inbred House of Trastamara). Hence the epithet "the Mad" - her father Ferdinand had to become Regent of Castile upon his daughter's ascension instead of ruling jointly until she inherited Aragon upon his death.
    • She also carried around Philip's dead body on her travels, another reason for her to be considered mad.
    • And she had him buried so that she could see his tomb from her bedroom's window. Poor mad girl indeed. Phillip the Handsome's death would require a trope of its own.
  • Speaking of Charles V, Joanna and Philip's son, the most powerful man in Europe at his time also had a surprisingly happy arranged marriage with Princess Isabella of Portugal, an intelligent and beautiful woman who kept the entire Kingdom of Spain in line during her husband's absences. When she died, the Emperor never re-married and wore the mourning colors for the rest of his life.
  • Maria Kutschera, despite what The Sound of Music may tell you, was not desperately in love with Captain von Trapp when they married, although he was in love with her. She married him for the sake of the children and fell in love with him later. Obviously, it all worked out, as by the time they left Austria, she clearly loved him very deeply.
  • The marriage between Princess Elizabeth of Hungary and Landgrave Ludwig IV of Thuringia. It certainly helped that she went to live with his family when they were both children and got to befriend each other first, thus making this also a Childhood Friend Romance. Ludwig was a staunch supporter of Elizabeth's religious and charitable work, despite the disapproval of the rest of his family; after he died, she pretty much ran away from both her in-laws and her own family, and preferred to become a nun rather than remarry.
  • English and British monarchs never fail to provide examples of all tropes royal:
    • King Henry III of England is recorded to have been madly in love with his wife, Eleanor of Provence. Unusually for a medieval monarch, he never took a mistress.
    • Similarly, their son Edward I seems to have had a deeply loving relationship with his first wife, Leonor (Eleanor) of Castile. They married as teenagers and had a long and happy marriage, with many children. When she died, he was heartbroken and had the Eleanor crosses erected along the path that her body took through England to its burial site; there were twelve such crosses, one at each location where the body stopped, and most of them still survive.
      • Edward I's second marriage to the much-younger Marguerite of France seems to have been a great success, as well, although by no account did he have the same affection for Marguerite as Eleanor. Like his father, Edward I was never known to have taken a mistress.
    • Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia, to the extent that after Anne's premature death, Richard became notably unstable.
    • Henry VII of England married Elizabeth of York after taking the throne for political reasons, hoping to unite the two warring families of Lancaster and York. And although Henry has a reputation for being a cold, miserly man, it is possible to see that the quality of his government declined drastically after his wife's death, and that he began to act far more ruthlessly and ungenerously, suggesting that he truly cared deeply for Elizabeth. This is becomes even clearer when compared to his son Henry VIII, as Henry VII did not really try to remarry after his wife's death even though it was to be expected.
    • The marriage between William III and Mary II didn't start out very well; Mary cried through their wedding, William was cold and neglectful towards her, and had an affair with one of her ladies-in-waiting. However, the relations between them improved very much, and when Mary died young of smallpox, William was devastated, saying that "from being the happiest" he was "now going to be the miserablest creature on earth".
    • George III of Great Britain (yes that George III) had quite a happy marriage to Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Although they first met on their wedding day (at which point George was already king), all indications are that it worked. He never took a mistress (unlike his father, grandfather, and sons) and their marriage was by all accounts quite the happy one. They had fifteen (fifteen!) children.
    • King George V of the United Kingdom - grandfather to HM The Queen - married his brother Albert's fiancee Mary of Teck when Albert died of pneumonia. This marriage of convenience became a love match and spawned one of England's most universally beloved monarchies - just about the only monarch seriously complained about from this dynasty is the rather selfish Edward VIII.
  • Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Actually, Louis got a lot of grief for refusing to take a mistress, because he was so happy in his marriage to Marie.
    • Of course, the fact that it took him a few years to get around to consummating his marriage with Marie might imply that he simply didn't take mistresses because he wasn't quite into shagging women.
      • In fact, it was because he had a condition named phimosis, which made him feel a horrible pain in his male bits every time he had an erection. He was also very ashamed of it, so it took several years to make him even see a doctor. After he was treated, his wife got pregnant four times.
      • The possibility of him having that condition is debatable, as there's no record of the surgery to fix it and he frequently went horse riding during that time (which a surgery to the genitals would hamper). His brother, however, did record in his journal that half of Louis's difficulties was that he simply didn't understand the process.
  • Gilbert de Lafayette and Adrienne de Noailles. When the marriage was arranged, she was 15, he - 17. Just for money, of course (from her side - or the side of her parents, that is). You can guess how it went from there on, so just pointing out the more prominent parts. When Lafayette was imprisoned and she was about to be executed (revolution will not be civilised, after all) she was writing to the revolutionary tribune to save her husband, after the death penalty was substituted for imprisonment, she was released from custody and her only request was to be imprisoned in the same castle, as the Lafayette, and when she died, he wrote, that gone is the bigger and better part of him. If you wrote a book with such events now, one would undoubtedly be accused of sentimentalism in the terminal stage. Reality ensues, indeed...
  • Prince Khurram aka the future Indian Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his favorite wife, Persian princess Arjhumand Banu Begham aka Empress Mumtaz Mahal (also the granddaughter of his father's Grand Vizier). He was so grief-stricken when she fell to Death by Childbirth that he ordered the construction of a mausoleum for her... known as the Taj Mahal.
  • Partially, King Juan Carlos I of Spain and his wife Sofia of Greece and Denmark. Partially, because they met during a cruise to the Greek Islands that was specially arranged by Sofia's parents Paul and Frederika (the then-Royal Couple of Greece), in hopes that their daughter would find a nice Royal Blood boyfriend while not imposing any specific choices on her. Of course, she did find and get her guy: they've been married for almost fifty years.
  • Pompey the Great of ancient Rome had a habit of marrying for purely political reasons and then falling head-over-heels in love with his wife. Some guys are just romantics. He and his fourth wife, Julia (daughter of Julius Caesar) were especially devoted to each other, though he was over twenty years older than her.
  • Another Roman, Tiberius Caesar, had more mixed luck. His first arranged marriage was to the daughter of the "vice-emperor" Agrippa, a woman named Vipsania, with whom he fell passionately in love. Then, inconveniently, Agrippa died... so Tiberius's step-father, the Emperor Augustus, forced him to marry Augustus's biological daughter Julia, who also happened to be Agrippa's widow... yep, Tiberius was forced to marry his mother in law. The good news was that Julia was the most beautiful woman in Rome. The bad news was that she was... a very, very sociable girl who ended up causing such embarrassment to her husband and father that she was imprisoned on a small, desolate island for the rest of her life. The worse news was that Tiberius was still very much in love with Vipsania, and for the rest of his life, every time he caught sight of her in passing he burst into tears at the thought of what he'd lost. The worst news was that the shock of being forced to divorce Tiberius caused Vipsania to miscarry Tiberius's child. Tiberius later became Emperor himself, and found a reason to execute every single one of Augustus's descendents... with one exception.
  • Llewelyn ap Gruffyd, the last native Prince of Wales before it was conquered by the English, arranged a marriage for himself with Eleanor de Montfort, daughter of Simon de Montfort, because the latter was helping him to defend his crown and position. It turned out to be a genuine love match, despite an age difference of more than 20 years; Llewelyn is almost singularly unique among the Welsh princes for never having been known to take a mistress, and when Eleanor went the Death by Childbirth route bringing Princess Gwenllian into the world, Llewlyn pretty much lost it. He was persuaded by his greedy younger brother Dafydd to enter a dangerous campaign against the English, something he had been steadily resisting in Eleanor's lifetime, and died in the fight.
  • The already mentioned (and subverted) case of Sisi and Franz Josef spawned one of these. Helena of Wittelsbach aka Nene, the "spurned" older sister and first-rate candidate to Christmas Cake, got into an Arranged Marriage with Prince Maximilian from Thurn and Taxis some years later. Said union turned out to be a pretty happy one (and in fact, Nene was the only Happily Married among the very unlucky-in-love Wittesbach sisters), until Maximilian died of kidney failure at the age of 36. Nene never remarried, and turned towards philanthropy and managing the family businesses to ease her loneliness.
  • A study in India showed that on average, couples in arranged marriages report greater levels of love for each other than couples who chose their own partners after roughly the three-year mark in the marriage. Beyond that point, arranged marriages more or less level off while love marriages plummet.

  1. Ce'Nedra knew she had to be presented as the bride of the Rivan King on her sixteenth birthday, but not that said King would actually show up or that Garion was he. Garion, for his part, knew absolutely nothing, which was quite intentional.