Compared to other states, getting a marriage license in Tennessee is relatively easy. You can apply for your marriage license anywhere in the state regardless of where you live and where you are getting married. The state even offers a class couples can take to offset the cost and those getting married in Tennessee from other states even get a discount on their marriage license—it's a great reason to journey to the Volunteer State to say your vows.
Still, there are pitfalls to avoid. Tennessee has strict age limits, and the type of identification you must show depends on your age. You also have to send in your marriage license after your ceremony to make it official. To help you navigate the process we spoke to Tennessee-based wedding officiant Jody Secaur. He gave us tips for getting your marriage license as well as common mistakes couples make. Read on to find out more.
Meet the Expert
Jody Secaur is a wedding officiant in East Tennessee known as the Smoky Mountain Wedding Preacher.
Where to Get a Marriage License in Tennessee
The state of Tennessee allows you to get a marriage license anywhere in the state. It doesn't matter which county you live in or where your wedding venue is located. You can obtain your marriage license at any county clerk's office, and it allows you to say I do anywhere in the state.
Both members of the couple are required to go to a county clerk's office in person. "I have had couples that when they come to the area, one of them will run errands to gather up what they will need for their stay in the area while the other stays at the cabin and relaxes or something," says Secaur. "This works well for groceries, but not picking up a marriage license."
Even though you must appear in person to sign your license, the state allows you to fill out the application online before you arrive. "I always recommend to my couples to apply for their license online ahead of time. This saves time when picking up the license," adds Secaur. "At that point instead of standing there needing to tell the clerk all the information and have them type it in, all the clerk needs to do is to print it out and then they verify the information, sign them and they are on their way."
During the pandemic, some counties started requiring appointments to pick up your marriage license. Check ahead of time to avoid delays.
Bring You Documentation
"One of the most common mistakes I see is people forgetting their documents," Secaur reveals. "State-issued driver's license with photo and social security card is normally what the clerk's office likes to see when the couple is picking up their license." Here is what you should bring to your in-person appointment.
- Proof of Age. You will need to fill out an application to get your marriage license in Tennessee. Both couples must have proof of date of birth. In this state, 17-year-olds are allowed to get married, but if you are between the ages of 17 and 20 you must show a birth certificate. If you are 21 and older it's acceptable to show a government-issued ID like a driver's license or a passport.
- Social Security Number. The application also must include both people's social security numbers. The couple must show proof of a social security number like a social security card or a tax document with the social security number listed.
- Money. In Tennessee, the fee for a marriage license is $99.50 if you live in the state. However, if you take a four-hour premarital preparation course within a year of applying for your license you can save $60. During the class, you will learn vital relationship skills like how to have healthy communication. The fee for out-of-state residents is $41. It's a reward for choosing Tennessee for your destination wedding!
In Tennessee, marriage licenses are valid right away. That means you can go straight from the county clerk's office to your wedding if you desire (Although we wouldn't recommend it! It's always best to leave time for unseen delays.). The marriage license is valid for 30 days after your wedding, which means you have to plan ahead to make sure your timing works out.
Where it can get a little tricky is that Tennessee requires the wedding officiant to tear off the bottom portion of the marriage license, sign it, and send it back to the county clerk's office to be recorded. The marriage is not recognized by the state until those forms are received. The county clerk's office then mails the completed marriage license back to the couple. And you don't want to lose that document, says Secaur. "So make sure your mailing address is correct on your license as this is where the clerk will send your final documents after they have been processed."