Tennessee Marriage Laws UPDATE
The state of Tennessee has recently passed a law that could disallow specific types of ministers from solemnizing weddings.
Due to the complexities of the emerging marriage laws in Tennessee, we are working on a solution for any ministers that may be affected by this new legislation. If you are a resident of Tennessee you may encounter difficulties when registering to perform weddings. Your ordination is still valid in the state to perform ministerial duties, however, you may be restricted on the ability to solemnize weddings.
Open Ministry is a non-denominational church registered with the State of California; with the purpose to guide and support the church in its mission, outreach and community services. Our Ministry has the right and privilege to ordain ministers, our ordinations are valid and good for life. Our ministers have the same powers and rights as ordained clergy for religious ceremonies and other sacerdotal rites.
"Ministers are granted the ability to perform the sacrament of marriage, among other practices protected by our constitutional rights; and freedom of religious customs without restraint as guaranteed by the First Amendment."
As granted by the First Amendment to the Constitution; as a minister you are granted specific rights and privileges under the First Amendment to the Constitution. Our ministers should be able to register in their states without complaint or discrimination from the county or elected officials.
How to Get Ordained, Register and Perform Weddings By State
Get Ordained, Register and Perform a wedding or ceremony in Tennessee.
If you are planning to get ordained in Tennessee, need to find a minister in Tennessee or have been asked to perform a wedding ceremony in Tennessee, you've come to the right place.
As an ordained minister with Open Ministry, our ministers have successfully performed thousands of marriages in Tennessee and around the world!
The Ordination and Officiant information is provided below in five steps, is designed help walk you through the most common steps in registering to become a minister for Tennessee and perform a wedding ceremony in Tennessee.
Step 1 - How to Become Ordained
How to get and become Ordained in Tennessee to Officiate or perform marriages in Tennessee
Our Ordinations for Tennessee are completely free and can be completed in less than a day. Thousands of people have registered and become licensed ministers in Tennessee and are able perform marriages through Open Ministry in Tennessee!
Get Ordained Today and start your journey as an ordained minister in Tennessee with Open Ministry.
Get started today by clicking on the link below!
Step 2 - Contact The County Clerk
How to Register to Officiate a Marriage in Tennessee
Next, you should contact the office of your local marriage authority (typically your county clerk) in Tennessee. Let them know that you are a minister of Open Ministry in California, and ask what they will require of you to officiate a legal marriage in Tennessee.
When speaking with the county clerk; it can be helpful to use the following phrases.
- What agency or department issues marriage licenses in your county and how may I contact them?
- I am an ordained minister with a church in California and I would like to register as a wedding Officiant in your county to perform and solemnize weddings.
- I have my Letter of Good Standing and/or Ordination Credential as proof of my ministry and ordination.
- What additional documentation is required for me to register as a wedding Officiant in your county?
Step 3 - Getting Licensed to Perform the Marriage
License to perform a wedding in Tennessee
After you've contacted your marriage authority, you should visit our bookstore to purchase your official credentials and any required documentation (See Tennessee State Statutes for More Specific Requirements )
When registering in Tennessee you may be asked to display proof of your ordination to the county clerk's before they will accept the marriage license as having been legally solemnized. We typically advise ministers of Tennessee to get a Complete Minister Package for Tennessee which includes your Letter of Good Standing.
Having your ordination credentials will also provide peace-of-mind to any couple that you intend to marry. Additionally, we recommend that you have at least 4 weeks between the date of the wedding ceremony and your order, to ensure that you receive all of your materials in time to register.
It is important to note that some county clerks in Tennessee may require wedding officiants to attach a statement avowing some of the elements in the marriage license upon submission, including the following:
- The time and location at which the wedding took place
- The names and places of residence of all official witnesses
- The religious organization in which the officiant is ordained
- The printed name and address of the officiant
Please note that, when filling out a marriage license, that Tennessee State may request you use the title "Minister" or "Reverend". The County Clerks may also require you enter your denomination, you can use "Non-Denominational". Failing to state a denomination may result in rejection and could require a duplicate marriage license.
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 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 renumeration 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.
Title 36: Domestic Relations - Chapter 3: Marriage - Part 3: Ceremony
[Code 1858, Â§ 2439 (deriv. Acts 1778, ch. 7, Â§ 2; 1845-1846, ch. 145, Â§ 7); Acts 1879, ch. 98, Â§ 1; 1889, ch. 134, Â§ 1; Shan., Â§ 4189; Code 1932, Â§ 8412; Acts 1949, ch. 251, Â§ 4; C. Supp. 1950, Â§ 8412; Acts 1970, ch. 440, Â§ 1; 1973, ch. 66, Â§ 3; impl. am. Acts 1978, ch. 934, Â§ 7; Acts 1979, ch. 87, Â§ 1; 1981, ch. 211, Â§Â§ 1, 2; 1983, ch. 331, Â§Â§ 1, 2; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), Â§ 36-415; Acts 1984, ch. 516, Â§ 1; 1987, ch. 146, Â§ 1; 1987, ch. 336, Â§Â§ 4, 5; 1988, ch. 471, Â§Â§ 1, 2; 1991, ch. 86, Â§ 1; 1992, ch. 911, Â§ 1; 1993, ch. 50, Â§ 1; 1994, ch. 619, Â§ 1; 1995, ch. 94, Â§ 1; 1995, ch. 128, Â§ 1; 1997, ch. 295, Â§Â§ 1, 2; 1998, ch. 745, Â§Â§ 1, 2; 1999, ch. 526, Â§ 1; 2003, ch. 90, Â§ 2; 2003, ch. 376, Â§ 3; 2005, ch. 21, Â§ 1.]