Tennessee Marriage Laws

From country music star-searching in Nashville to soaking in the natural wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there is no shortage of reasons why Tennessee is a popular destination for weddings. And yet planning your big day in the Volunteer State is not without its unique challenges, which is why we’ve created this detailed guide for couples and ministers looking to plan a wedding that will stand up to legal muster in Tennessee.

Requirements for the Couple

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 minimum marrying age in Tennessee is 18 years old. Either member of a couple between the ages of 16 and 18 will require the signature of two separate legal guardians on their behalf, followed by the observation of a 3-day waiting period before any license is issued. Minors under the age of 16, for their part, will need to seek approval in Juvenile Court before being issued a marriage license.

The state of Tennessee welcomes residents and non-residents alike, and recognizes same sex marriages. It will not, however, marry any combination of siblings, ancestors/ descendants or any other blood relatives closer than second cousins.

Marriage License Requirements

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

No marriage license will be issued in the state of Tennessee until both parties of the couple fill out the necessary application (stating their names, ages, addresses and social security numbers, and the names and addresses of their parents, guardians or next of kin) and swear to the information contained in it.

The city of Nashville requires couples verify their social security numbers, and the state will also demand proof of prior divorce, if applicable. Only those who are either incarcerated or who have a disability that prevents them from appearing in person before a county clerk will be exempt from this requirement after providing a notarized statement.

A marriage license in Tennessee will set you back anywhere from $90 to $110, depending on the county in which it is issued. Applicants who prove they’ve undergone premarital counseling within a year of applying can knock $60 off the total fee.

Marriage License Facts

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

Once issued, the marriage license must be presented to the minister who will be presiding over the ceremony. Keep in mind that any marriage solemnized in Tennessee by a minister ordained by the Universal Life Church will be considered a ‘religious’ one.

The license, once granted, will be valid for 30 days. It must be returned back to the same county clerk office that issued it within 3 days of the wedding ceremony.

Requirements for the Minister

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 state of Tennessee recognizes both civil and religious unions, and therefore sanctions any minister, preacher, pastor, priest, rabbi or other spiritual leader having the “care of souls” to solemnize a wedding, as well as any county mayor, judge, chancellor, judge, governor, speaker of the house or senate – either serving or retired – that hasn’t been convicted of a felony or removed from office.

It gets a little more complicated for ULC ministers, because in 2019 Tennessee passed a law declaring that officiants ordained online do not have the authority to perform legal wedding ceremonies. The Universal Life Church Ministries has filed a lawsuit alleging that the law is unconstitutional and asking for it to be overturned, but that case is still being litigated.

For now, online-ordained ministers in Tennessee require proof of physical ordination before officiating a legal wedding ceremony. That item can be found in the Classic Wedding Package, which we recommend our Tennessee ministers order.

Wedding Ceremony Requirements

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

The state of Tennessee is fairly lenient when it comes to setting out the manner, order and aesthetic in which wedding ceremonies take place, leaving it to the couples to do so according to their needs. Witnesses are not required.

However, no marriage on Tennessee’s soil will be considered legally solemnized without the verbal consent of the couple, in which each accepts the other as their wedded spouse. The union must then be pronounced by the minister presiding over the marriage.

Final Steps

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

The state of Tennessee clearly states that it is the officiating minister’s job to list the fact and time of the ceremony on the marriage license; to identify themselves and their relevant church (the Universal Life Church), to provide a home address if asked, and finally to sign the document and return it to the county clerk where it was issued within three days of the wedding. Failure to do so will be considered a Class C misdemeanor.