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  • Rev. Brandon Rich

Important details about the marriage license

Ah, the marriage license. It’s the Rodney Dangerfield of the wedding, along with the officiant. It is arguably the most important “thing” at the wedding, and the officiant is the most important vendor at the wedding. After all, at the end of the day, once you get past the pomp and circumstance of the typical wedding and reception, the most fundamental purpose of the event is to solemnize a legal bond between two people in marriage, and that bond happens when the officiant performs the ceremony and signs the marriage license. To many couples however, the marriage license is just paperwork, a technical detail, and for some, getting the license and having a properly credentialed officiant to sign the license is almost a headache. Regardless of how you may feel about these two aspects of a wedding, if you plan to marry in Tennessee, you’ll need them both – a Tennessee marriage license and a properly credentialed officiant. You’ll need to put some thought into the license and allow some time. Before you make your wedding day plans, you need to make sure you have everything required to get your marriage license, and that you’ve allowed sufficient time. Most Tennessee county clerks require two forms of government issued identification, along with divorce decree or death certificate information to show that you are no longer married to your most recent previous spouse. You also must obtain your license in advance of the wedding, but no sooner than 30 days out. Once you obtain the license, you’ll need a properly credentialed officiant to perform a ceremony and sign the license. In Tennessee, there are several civil officers who can perform marriages, such as judges, notaries public, and other officials who are named on the county paperwork, including certain elected officials. On the religious side, various member of the clergy with care of souls who have been sanctioned by their various congregations or denominations may also officiate ceremonies. Tennessee does not allow those with online ordination to officiate weddings, so no, your friend cannot go online and get a piece of paper from an online “church” so he or she can do your wedding. Whether you are planning a grand wedding and reception with 300 guests, a Tennessee tiny wedding, or you plan to simply elope, you’ll need your marriage license and you’ll need a proper officiant. You can find everything you’ll need at


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