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Tennessee Wedding Laws

Tennessee is known for the natural wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the dazzling country music scenes in the cities of Nashville and Memphis. Whatever attracts you to hold your wedding in the Volunteer State, you do have to comply with the requirements imposed by its marriage laws. Here is a step-by-step guide to ensuring your Tennessee marriage is legally binding.

Getting Married in Tennessee

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
No
Minister Required to be Present:
Yes
Number of Witnesses Required:
None
Min. Age of Witnesses:
N/A
Couple's Consent Required:
Yes
Pronouncement Required:
Yes

During the ceremony, the couple must give verbal consent to marry one another and accept each other as wedded spouses. The minister presiding over the ceremony must then pronounce the couple as married. There are no additional witnesses to the ceremony required, nor any mandated order that the ceremony has to follow to be considered legitimate. These can therefore be arranged according to the individual needs and desires of the couple.

Tennessee Marriage Requirements

Min. Age of Couple:
Age 18 or Age 16 with Guardian Consent
Residency:
Not Required
Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
First Cousins
Marriage Equality:
Yes

The state of Tennessee recognizes same-sex marriages and welcomes residents and non-residents alike to hold their weddings here. However, it does not allow marriages between any blood relatives more closely related than second cousins.

If you and your prospective spouse meet these requirements and are over the age of 18, you should not run into any legal difficulties in obtaining your marriage license. However, minors under the age of 16 cannot be issued a marriage license without the approval of the Juvenile Court. Minors between the ages of 16 and 18 must observe a waiting period of three days after obtaining signatures consenting to the marriage from two separate legal guardians.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Tennessee

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Residency:
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Proof of Non-Online Ordination
Online Ordination Recognized:
No
Relevant Office of Registration:
County Clerk
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
Before Ceremony
Minister I.D. # Issued:
No

The question of whether ministers ordained online are eligible to officiate weddings in Tennessee is up in the air at the moment. There is currently a lawsuit challenging a recent state law that would prohibit ministers ordained online from performing marriage ceremonies. The outcome is still pending. Ministers of Universal Life Church still wishing to obtain proof of their ordination may be interested in the Classic Wedding Package because this contains the ministerial license that they are looking for.

Otherwise, there is a long and detailed list of civil and religious officials who are allowed to preside over wedding ceremonies in Tennessee. Elected officials, from the governor to the speaker of the senate or house to a local mayor, all have the authority as long as they haven't been removed from office or convicted of a felony. Other civil officials so authorized include chancellors and judges. All of these officials retain the authority after their retirement.

As for the religious side, Tennessee recognizes the authority of any spiritual leader who has the "care of souls" to solemnize a wedding. Specific examples include pastors, ministers, priests, rabbis, and preachers.

Applying For a Marriage License in Tennessee

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Religious
Mandatory Waiting Period:
None
License Valid For:
30 Days
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 3 Days of Ceremony

The wedding ceremony must take place within 30 days of the license's issuance because that is the period for which it is valid. When you receive the license, you must then present it to the officiant who will be performing the ceremony. It will then be his or her responsibility to return it to the issuing county clerk within three days of the ceremony.

How to Get a Tennessee Marriage License

Who Picks Up License:
The Couple
Where License is Valid:
Any County in Tennessee
Marriage License Pick-Up:
In Person Only
Cost of License:
Varies by County
Accepted I.D. Types:
Photo ID
Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
Yes
Blood Test Required:
No

The state of Tennessee does not require you to undergo premarital counseling before issuing you a marriage license. However, if you can provide proof that you have already undergone it, the fee to obtain your license is reduced by $60. This can be significant because the ordinary licensing fee varies by county but can range from $90 to $110 without the discount.

The application for a Tennessee marriage license requires you to provide information such as your Social Security numbers, names, addresses, and ages on the form and then swear to the accuracy of the information. If either of you has been married before, proof of divorce is required. You are ordinarily required to apply in person before a county clerk. However, with a notarized statement, you may be exempted from this requirement if either you or your future spouse has a disability that prevents this or is incarcerated.

You will be required to verify your Social Security number if you get your license in the city of Nashville.

Finalizing the Union

Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
Minister
Church/Ordaining Body:
Universal Life Church Ministries
Address of Church:
Minister's Home Address

After the ceremony, the minister who performed the wedding has three days to fill out the marriage license and return it to the county clerk's office that issued it. The minister could face Class C misdemeanor charges if he or she fails to do so. The minister must sign the license and fill out the requested information. In addition to identifying himself or herself and the body that granted him or her the authority to preside over weddings, the minister must list the time of the ceremony on the license.