How to Become an Ordained Minister in Tennessee

If you haven't yet become ordained with the Universal Life Church, that is the first step. Anyone willing can become a legal minister of the ULC, one of the world's largest religious organizations. Online ordination is fast, easy, and completely free. Once you have your minister license, you'll be eligible to officiate a wedding. To become a minister, start by clicking the button below!

Become Ordained!

How to Officiate a Wedding in Tennessee

Contact the local County Clerk's office. Introduce yourself as a minister officiating a wedding, and ask them what documents they will need from you. They may ask to see a number of things, and be aware that these requirements vary from county to county. Rest assured that any materials or documents you might need are available in the Church Supplies section of our website.

We've recently been made aware of a legal change that could affect the status of ministers in this state. We suggest you check with the clerk in your county for more information.

Select your county to view contact information for each office:

The Tennessee state flower, the Iris

What Do You Need to Perform a Wedding in Tennessee

If you have been lucky enough to get the go ahead by a county clerk to perform the marriage, simply log in to your account and order the materials from our online catalog. We typically advise our ministers in Tennessee to get a Classic Wedding Kit. If a minister is approved to perform a marriage in the state of Tennessee, it's likely the county clerk will ask you to present proof of your ordination before they will accept the legality of the ceremonies you've performed. Please place your order well in advance of the wedding to avoid complications.

How to Get a Tennessee Marriage License

Licenses are issued by the County Clerk's office, and will be picked up by the couple. As a minister, it's your responsibility to understand how marriage licenses work in Tennessee and its individual counties. For example, if the couple plans to get a Nashville marriage license, you should double-check if there are rules specific to Davidson County.

In the state of Tennessee, the license is valid for 30 days. There is no mandatory waiting period between the time it is picked up, and when the ceremony can be legally performed. Lastly, the signed marriage license must be returned to the issuing office within 3 days of the ceremony.

How to Perform a Wedding

Congratulations, you're ready to officiate the wedding! If you need any assistance in this important task, we encourage you to utilize the tools below. Together these exclusive resources include everything you'll need to craft the perfect wedding ceremony for any couple. Created with our ministers in mind, they offer tips and helpful information for all aspects of performing a ceremony. Fun fact: many ULC ministers have become professional officiants using these tools as a guide!

Finalizing the Marriage

After you perform the ceremony, you will sign the marriage license along with the couple. Your title is 'minister', the ceremony type is 'religious', and the denomination is 'non-denominational'. You will not be required to provide a license number, and witnesses are not required. You may also wish to give the couple a commemorative gift, like a marriage certificate to mark their special day. Last thing: make sure the signed license gets resubmitted to the marriage office before the deadline!

Tennessee Marriage Laws

Marriage laws in Tennessee are primarily directed by Chapter 3 of Title 36 of the state code. This section defines persons authorized to perform a marriage in the State of Tennessee, which generally encompasses ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church, among other individuals. We've reproduced the relevant portion below:

36-3-301. Persons who may solemnize marriages.

(a) (1) All regular ministers, preachers, pastors, priests, rabbis and other spiritual leaders of every religious belief, more than eighteen (18) years of age, having the care of souls, and all members of the county legislative bodies, county mayors, judges, chancellors, former chancellors and former judges of this state, former county executives or county mayors of this state, former members of quarterly county courts or county commissions, the governor, the speaker of the senate and former speakers of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives and former speakers of the house of representatives, the county clerk of each county, former county clerks of this state who occupied the office of county clerk on or after July 1, 2014, and the mayor of any municipality in the state may solemnize the rite of matrimony. For the purposes of this section, the several judges of the United States courts, including United States magistrates and United States bankruptcy judges, who are citizens of Tennessee are deemed to be judges of this state. The amendments to this section by Acts 1987, ch. 336, which applied provisions of this section to certain former judges, do not apply to any judge who has been convicted of a felony or who has been removed from office.

(2) In order to solemnize the rite of matrimony, any such minister, preacher, pastor, priest, rabbi or other spiritual leader must be ordained or otherwise designated in conformity with the customs of a church, temple or other religious group or organization; and such customs must provide for such ordination or designation by a considered, deliberate, and responsible act.

(3) If any marriage has been entered into by license issued pursuant to this chapter at which any minister officiated before June 1, 1999, such marriage shall not be invalid because the requirements of the preceding subdivision (2) have not been met.

(b) The traditional marriage rite of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), whereby the parties simply pledge their vows one to another in the presence of the congregation, constitutes an equally effective solemnization.

(c) Any gratuity received by a county mayor, county clerk or municipal mayor for the solemnization of a marriage, whether performed during or after such person's regular working hours, shall be retained by such person as personal remuneration for such services, in addition to any other sources of compensation such person might receive, and such gratuity shall not be paid into the county general fund or the treasury of such municipality.

(d) If any marriage has been entered into by license regularly issued at which a county executive officiated prior to April 24, 1981, such marriage shall be valid and is hereby declared to be in full compliance with the laws of this state.

(e) For the purposes of this section, "retired judges of this state" is construed to include persons who served as judges of any municipal or county court in any county that has adopted a metropolitan form of government and persons who served as county judges (judges of the quarterly county court) prior to the 1978 constitutional amendments.

(f) If any marriage has been entered into by license regularly issued at which a retired judge of this state officiated prior to April 13, 1984, such marriage shall be valid and is hereby declared to be in full compliance with the laws of this state.

(g) If any marriage has been entered into by license issued pursuant to this chapter at which a judicial commissioner officiated prior to March 28, 1991, such marriage is valid and is declared to be in full compliance with the laws of this state.

(h) The judge of the general sessions court of any county, and any former judge of any general sessions court, may solemnize the rite of matrimony in any county of this state. Any marriage performed by any judge of the general sessions court in any county of this state before March 16, 1994, shall be valid and declared to be in full compliance with the laws of this state.

(i) All elected officials and former officials, who are authorized to solemnize the rite of matrimony pursuant to the provisions of subsection (a), may solemnize the rite of matrimony in any county of this state.

(j) If any marriage has been entered into by license issued pursuant to this chapter at which a county mayor officiated outside such mayor's county prior to May 29, 1997, such marriage is valid and is declared to be in full compliance with the laws of this state.

(k) The judge of the municipal court of any municipality, whether elected or appointed, shall have the authority to solemnize the rite of matrimony in any county of the state.