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How to Get Married in Tennessee: Plan a Wedding in The Volunteer State

Published Thursday, Jul. 6th, 2023

Photo: Emily Heidt / Pixabay

Planning a Tennessee wedding? This short guide will help, from how to find a wedding officiant in Tennessee to how to apply for and complete your marriage license. 


From its stunning natural beauty to world-renowned nightlife, Tennessee offers soon-to-be-weds countless opportunities for excitement, fun, and romance –  making it top choice for destination weddings.


Applying for a marriage license in this Southern state will look different in each county, so it’s important to get a head start on the planning process to avoid unnecessary stress. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a short guide to help you begin. 


Asked to officiate a wedding in Tennessee? 

Read How to Become a Wedding Officiant in Tennessee

Bridesmaids lined up in blue and maroon dresses holding flowers and showing off their cowboy boots

Photo: Tai's Captures / Unsplash



How to get married in Tennessee in 6 Steps 


1. Get yourself a sweetheart! 

Got one? Whew! There will be a few more boxes to check, but the hardest part’s over.

2. Find a wedding officiant in Tennessee.


A wedding officiant is the person who conducts your ceremony and signs the marriage license, making things legal.


A friend or relative can perform your wedding ceremony if they’ve been ordained online, including AMM Ministers.



If you want to hire a professional, the state has many qualified independent officiants to choose from. The following people are authorized to solemnize marriage in Tennessee, including AMM Ministers:


“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,” and various state officials. (Summarized from Tennessee Code §36-3-301 Persons who may solemnize marriages.)


(Read the full list of officiants and more TN marriage laws here.)



Aerial view of Nashville, Tennessee, skyline

Photo: Tanner Boriack / Unsplash

Want to get married in Nashville? Head to the Davidson County Clerk’s Office to apply for your marriage license!



3. Choose a date and a venue...


Tennessee is home to world-famous music and arts scenes, one-of-a-kind attractions like Dollywood and Graceland, incredible state parks and the Great Smoky Mountains, rich cultural heritage, and thriving cities like Nashville and Memphis – making it a favorite for destination weddings. 


Whether you’re dreaming of a big to-do or a romantic elopement for two, there’s something for everyone!


Popular dates, venues, and officiants book up fast, so start early. And remember you’ll need permission (and a permit) to use a public space, such as a city park or recreational area. Permits can take weeks to process, so factor this into your timeline, too. 


Tennessee Marriage License Quick Facts

No Waiting Period
30 Day Expiration Period
3 Day Return Period

Stylized graphic shows a couple being married by a minister holding an oversized pen signing an oversized marriage license, with a gavel in the forefront

Did you know? Every state has different laws governing when the marriage license is issued, can be completed, and must be returned. There are called a state's marriage license Waiting Period, Expiration Period, and Return Deadline. Learn more here. 



4. The marriage license. 

Alright, time to make sure your wedding’s legal! We’ll break down each part of the marriage license process, one step at a time: 

Apply for your TN marriage license


You’ll apply for your marriage license through the County Clerk’s office. Some counties require you to complete a Marriage Application form online before heading to the clerk’s office. You don’t need to be a Tennessee state resident to marry there. 


Requirements to Apply: 


  • Both applicants must be present (or file an affidavit in special circumstances), and provide valid government-issued photo ID (driver’s license, state ID, passport), and proof of social security number
  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old or meet the requirements for minors


If you’re planning a wedding anywhere in Tennessee, we recommend contacting the county clerk closest to your venue to learn more. 


Your license will cost about $100. Discounts are available to couples who complete an optional premarital class and submit a signed Premarital Preparation form. Some offices will only accept cash or card, so plan ahead! There’s no fee to register your marriage after the ceremony.

Marriage waiting period

There is no waiting period between the time you receive your license and when your ceremony can take place.

How to use and return a TN marriage license

A Tennessee marriage license can be used in any county in the state, and expires 30 days after it’s issued – so you’ll need to use it before then.



The license must be signed by each party to the marriage and the marriage officiant following the ceremony, and returned by the Officiant to the appropriate office within 3 days. Specific directions on how to return the license will be given to you when it's issued.


Your Tennessee marriage license must be returned by the Officiant within 3 days of your wedding ceremony.

Grooms kiss outdoors behind a rainbow colored umbrella on their wedding day, in the background are rolling hills and farm land

Photo: Julie Rose / Pixabay

Same-sex and other LGBTQ+ marriages are legal in Tennessee! Find an LGBTQ+ wedding venue, or ask a friend or relative to get ordained to marry you in your favorite spot.



5. Meet with your wedding officiant...

Once you’ve chosen a date, a venue, and have your marriage license details worked out, you’ll be ready to meet with your wedding officiant to plan the ceremony! 


This is when things start to come into focus. You’ll talk about the tone of your ceremony, the ‘vibe’ you want to create for your guests, and any special elements and unity rituals you want to include. You and your officiant might meet a few more times to exchange more ideas, fine-tune a script, or rehearse the ceremony leading up to the wedding day. 


AMM’s website is full of resources to help you decide what kind of ceremony you want, tips on working well with your officiant, and advice on keeping your ceremony authentic and on budget. 


Visit Articles for Couples on our American Weddings blog, or browse general articles by category or keyword. 

6. The wedding day! 


Aside from yourselves, the most important thing you’ll bring with you on the wedding day is your marriage license -- because you can’t get married without a marriage license. Your officiant won’t be able to perform the wedding without having a license present (even if you have it at home), so make sure it’s with you. 


After the ceremony, you and your officiant will sign the license. 



After it’s signed, the completed marriage license must be returned by the Officiant to the appropriate office within 3 days. Check with your county for details.


Once it’s been recorded, you’re officially married! 



Bride and groom play upright bass and drums on their wedding day

Photo: Anna Che / Pixabay



Want to perform a wedding in Tennessee? 


Visit Weddings by State: Tennessee


We’ve got everything you need to understand the state’s licensing and registration requirements, any ministry credentials and paperwork you might need, and helpful tips for several cities in the state, including Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Murfreesboro, and Nashville.





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Read all Tennessee Wedding Articles

Two brides kiss on their wedding day while friends and the minister watch, smiling, after they're declared married

The constitutional right to marry in Tennessee is being challenged on multiple fronts. To fight back, we must consider the big picture – including the right to online ordination. Read the full article here. 



Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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