Tennessee Outline

Tennessee Marriage Laws

Congratulations! If you've found yourself at this page it is likely that you are either planning to be married or have been asked to perform a wedding ceremony in Tennessee. Ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church have successfully performed thousands of legal marriages in Tennessee. The information provided below will walk you through the steps one must follow to become a minister and perform a valid wedding ceremony in the state of Tennessee.

Quick Facts
  • ULC Ordination Accepted: Not Generally
  • Minister Registration Required: Sometimes
  • Minister's Residency: Irrelevant
  • Minister's Minimum Age: 18
  •  
  • Marriage License Waiting Period: 0 Days
  • Marriage License Valid For: 30 Days
  • Marriage License Return Within: 3 Days

1 How to Become an Ordained Minister in Tennessee

If you haven't already, you should get ordained online with the Universal Life Church. Ordination is free and can be completed in just a matter of minutes. Thousands of legally valid marriages are performed by ULC ministers around the world every year. Begin the process by clicking the big blue button below!

2 How to Officiate a Marriage in Tennessee

Next, you should contact the office of your local marriage authority (typically your county clerk). Let them know that you are a minister of the Universal Life Church in Seattle, and ask what they will require of you to officiate a legal marriage. As a result of a 2015 Attorney General's opinion requested by Republican State Senator Todd Gardenhire, many Tennessee counties will no longer accept Universal Life Church ordinations.

Select your county to quickly generate the contact information for your local marriage authority.



Select a county

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3 License to Marry in Tennessee

After you've contacted your marriage authority, you should visit our online store to purchase whatever documentation will be required. We typically advise ministers in Tennessee to get an Ordination Package and to add a Letter of Good Standing to your order. While minister registration is not required in the state of Tennessee, it has been frequently reported to us by ULC ministers in the area that county clerks will ask for proof of your ordination before accepting any marriage you perform as having been legally solemnized. Additionally, please attempt to leave at least 3 weeks between the date of the wedding ceremony and your order, to ensure that you receive all of your materials in advance. We've recently become aware of an attorney general's opinion that calls into question the validity of Universal Life Church ordinations. Ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church have successfully performed thousands of weddings in this state before the opinion was released. Again, this opinion was published at the request of Republican State Senator Todd Gardenhire, and beginning summer 2015 our ministers began to report that their ordinations were being actively rejected by Tennessee County Clerks. We are keeping eyes on the situation and investigating all of our options. We would appreciate you letting us know if you personally encounter any problems with a government official in your area.

We've recently become aware of an attorney general's opinion that seems to call into question the validity of Universal Life Church ordinations. Please know that ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church have successfully performed thousands of weddings in this state before the opinion was released, and have continued to successfully perform legal weddings after its release. We are keeping eyes on the situation, and would appreciate you letting us know if you personally encounter any problems with a government official in your area.

4 How to Perform a Wedding in Tennessee

Now that you've done all of the above, you are ready to perform the wedding! Be sure that the couple has picked up their Tennessee marriage license from the appropriate office. This license is only valid for 30 days, but there is no mandatory waiting period between when the couple picks up the marriage license in Tennessee and when the ceremony may legally be conducted. Please be aware that the signed license must be returned to the issuing office within 3 days after the ceremony has been conducted. At the Universal Life Church we receive several calls from wedding officiants in Tennessee, after they've received their license to marry by getting ordained online, asking for guidance on how to perform a wedding ceremony. Once the legal matters have been taken care of, officiating a wedding (while a sometimes-daunting task) can be a great deal of fun. We would suggest that new Tennessee wedding ministers concerned about the ceremony peruse one of our helpful wedding guides. The minister training section of our website should offer a helpful refresher for more experienced ministers.


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Tennessee Marriage Code

Marriage laws in Tennessee are primarily directed by Chapter 3 of Title 36 of Tennessee's general code, which defines the persons authorized to perform a marriage in the State of Tennessee This includes ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church, among other individuals. We've reproduced a portion of this code 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.

View the Tennessee Statutes on the official state site
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Anderson County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Anderson County website »

Bedford County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Bedford County website »

Benton County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Benton County website »

Bledsoe County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Bledsoe County website »

Blount County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Blount County website »

Bradley County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Bradley County website »

Campbell County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Campbell County website »

Cannon County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Cannon County website »

Carroll County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Carroll County website »

Carter County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Carter County website »

Cheatham County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Cheatham County website »

Chester County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Chester County website »

Claiborne County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Claiborne County website »

Clay County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Clay County website »

Cocke County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Cocke County website »

Coffee County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Coffee County website »

Crockett County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Crockett County website »

Cumberland County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Cumberland County website »

Davidson County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Davidson County website »

Decatur County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Decatur County website »

DeKalb County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

DeKalb County website »

Dickson County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Dickson County website »

Dyer County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Dyer County website »

Fayette County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Fayette County website »

Fentress County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Fentress County website »

Franklin County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Franklin County website »

Gibson County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Gibson County website »

Giles County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Giles County website »

Grainger County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Grainger County website »

Greene County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Greene County website »

Grundy County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Grundy County website »

Hamblen County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Hamblen County website »

Hamilton County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Hamilton County website »

Hancock County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Hancock County website »

Hardeman County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Hardeman County website »

Hardin County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Hardin County website »

Hawkins County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Hawkins County website »

Haywood County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Haywood County website »

Henderson County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Henderson County website »

Henry County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Henry County website »

Hickman County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Hickman County website »

Houston County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Houston County website »

Humphreys County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Humphreys County website »

Jackson County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Jackson County website »

Jefferson County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Jefferson County website »

Johnson County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Johnson County website »

Knox County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Knox County website »

Lake County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Lake County website »

Lauderdale County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Lauderdale County website »

Lawrence County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Lawrence County website »

Lewis County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Lewis County website »

Lincoln County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Lincoln County website »

Loudon County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Loudon County website »

Macon County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Macon County website »

Madison County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Madison County website »

Marion County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Marion County website »

Marshall County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Marshall County website »

Maury County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Maury County website »

McMinn County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

McMinn County website »

McNairy County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

McNairy County website »

Meigs County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Meigs County website »

Monroe County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Monroe County website »

Montgomery County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Montgomery County website »

Moore County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Moore County website »

Morgan County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Morgan County website »

Obion County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Obion County website »

Overton County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Overton County website »

Perry County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Perry County website »

Pickett County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Pickett County website »

Polk County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Polk County website »

Putnam County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Putnam County website »

Rhea County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Rhea County website »

Roane County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Roane County website »

Robertson County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Robertson County website »

Rutherford County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Rutherford County website »

Scott County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Scott County website »

Sequatchie County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Sequatchie County website »

Sevier County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Sevier County website »

Shelby County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Shelby County website »

Smith County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Smith County website »

Stewart County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Stewart County website »

Sullivan County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Sullivan County website »

Sumner County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Sumner County website »

Tipton County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Tipton County website »

Trousdale County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Trousdale County website »

Unicoi County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Unicoi County website »

Union County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Union County website »

Van Buren County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Van Buren County website »

Warren County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Warren County website »

Washington County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Washington County website »

Wayne County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Wayne County website »

Weakley County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Weakley County website »

White County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

White County website »

Williamson County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Williamson County website »

Wilson County

NOT RECOGNIZED
, Tennessee

Wilson County website »