How to Get a Marriage License
Your union won't be official until you obtain your marriage license. Here's everything you need to know before you head to the marriage bureau.
Amid the blur of organizing your wedding with your planner and firming up honeymoon plans with your fiancee, it's surprisingly easy to forget that you actually have to get married on paper. A marriage license is basically your permit for eternal love. Think of it as your legal confirmation that you are both free and eligible to marry one another. Sure, it's paperwork, but it's still exciting (not to mention absolutely necessary).
So where to begin? Most, if not all, states have a government website with ample information on what materials and documents are required and the office's contact information. (Check out this helpful website on US marriage laws.)
Once you know in which city, district and county your nuptials will take place, you'll need to locate where to obtain your marriage license. It might be city hall, the city or town clerk's office, or the marriage license bureau in the county where you plan to wed. For example, in Connecticut, marriage licenses are issued by the municipal clerk's office in the town where you'll be married, whereas in Iowa, couples may apply at any county registrar or recorder's office. In some states, like New Jersey, you can simply download a marriage license brochure and the license itself to be filled out by you and your spouse-to-be.
Other than the physical paperwork, it's important to be wary of timing. Some states require a several-day waiting period between granting the license and your nuptials taking place. Also, most marriage licenses are only valid for a very specific window of time. This could be anywhere between 10 days and a year during which time you must have the ceremony, sign the license (together with your wedding officiant or celebrant and file for a certified license and marriage certificate.
Requirements do vary by state, but they all want to confirm the basics: that you have proper identification, that you're not currently married to anyone else (if you previously were, you need proper divorce or widowhood papers) and that you're of legal age to marry. A good checklist of necessities includes:
• Birth certificates
• Parental consent if underage (usually under 18); you may also need court consent in this case
• Photo identification (driver's license, state ID card, passport or birth certificate)
• Social Security number
• Proof of citizenship and/or residence
• Divorce decree if divorced
• Death certificate if widowed
With all of this general information in mind, here are all the details on a marriage license for the State of Tennessee, best place for residents and destination couples alike to tie the knot especially when figuring out how to get married can be an exhaustive process. From locations to venues, caterers, and getting your marriage license, there are many elements to consider. Hiring an excellent wedding planner who can steer you towards the right professionals to help you pull off this significant big day while saving you money can really help you say YES to less stress. Then all you need to worry about is getting your marriage license on time so you can have a beautiful Tennessee wedding.
Step 1: Determine if you are eligible to marry in Tennessee.
Before you can get your marriage license and married in Tennessee, figure out if you are eligible to marry under the state’s laws in Tennessee, which can vary by county. This will ensure that you don’t encounter any problems or delays in getting your license.
• It is not necessary to be a citizen of Tennessee to get married there.
• Neither you nor your partner may be married to another person when you apply for your license. If you are widowed or divorced, you must provide proof of your former spouse’s death or of your divorce.
• You must be 18 years of age or older to get married in Tennessee.
• Sixteen and seventeen year olds may apply for a marriage license when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Fifteen year olds may apply for a marriage license with court consent and parental approval.
• Tennessee does allow same sex marriage.
• Tennessee prohibits marriage between blood, or “lineal,” relatives, but does permit marriage between first cousins.
• Any individual with a developmental disability must obtain consent from the department of mental health or department of intellectual and developmental disabilities.
• For questions on specific laws in the county in which you will marry, contact a local clerk. The Tennessee County Clerks offer a search engine at https://secure.tncountyclerk.com/marriageform/marriageform.php?countylist=32 or http://www.usmarriagelaws.com/search/united_states/tennessee/#counties for a comprehensive list of offices and phone numbers.
Step 2: Gather proper documentation and payment to apply for your marriage license.
When you arrive at the County Clerk’s office, you’ll need to have proper documentation and identification to apply for your marriage license. You will also need to have payment for the license fees in your respective county.
• You will need proof of Social Security number in the form of your Social Security card or driver’s license that contains a Social Security number. In addition, you will need one of the following forms of ID: driver’s licenses, military IDs, passports, or state certified birth certificates.
• If you were previously married, you must provide the date of divorce or death of your spouse.
• You must also know the following information: full name of both parents, including mother’s maiden name; parents’ state of birth and address, if living; applicant’s number of previous marriages and date last marriage ended.
• You must fill out an application for a marriage license, which you can get at the local County Clerk’s office.
• You can expedite the process of applying for a marriage license in Tennessee by filing initial information online at https://secure.tncountyclerk.com/marriageform/marriageform.php?countylist=32. The service will automatically forward your application to the appropriate county clerk.
• Tennessee doesn’t require blood testing to receive a marriage license.
• Have any documentation that is not in English translated by a certified translator. Although there is no specific provision in the Tennessee law about non-English forms of identification or documentation, it’s nevertheless advisable to have translated versions in case the local authorities ask for them.
Step 3: Secure the license fees.
In addition to your documentation and identification, you’ll need to secure the right fees to pay for your marriage license. You have the option to reduce the general fee by taking a premarital counseling class.
• Marriage license fees in Tennessee vary by county but range from $93.50 to $99.50. Contact the County Clerk for where you will marry in Tennessee for specific fees. You can find a list of offices and telephone numbers at http://www.usmarriagelaws.com/search/united_states/tennessee/#counties.
• You can reduce the marriage license fee by $60 if you complete a premarital preparation course. Note that you must provide proof that you’ve completed the course when you apply for your marriage license.
• Note that some areas only accept cash payment for marriage licenses.
Step 4: Figure out the appropriate County Clerk
County Clerks issue marriage licenses to couples in Tennessee. Call ahead of your wedding date to confirm hours of operation, verify requirements, and any other questions you may have.
• For a complete list of County Clerks in Tennessee, consult the website http://www.usmarriagelaws.com/search/united_states/tennessee/#counties.
• Some County Clerks have websites with information on specific laws in their county of jurisdiction. In the event that there is no website for your specific County Clerk, you can call the number listed to verify information.
Step 5: Obtain your Tennessee marriage license from a County Clerk.
You must purchase your license at a County Clerk before you can get married in Tennessee. Make sure to have all of the proper documentation and fees prepare before you arrive at the County Clerk to avoid delays.
• Both parties must appear to apply for a marriage license. You must file an affidavit for any party that cannot appear at the County Clerk to apply. If you have either a disability or are incarcerated and cannot apply for the license in person you can submit a notarized statement.
• You must sign your application in front of the County Clerk.
• You must get a license at a County Clerk before you can get married in Tennessee.
• Tennessee does not have a waiting period for marriage licenses if you are 18 years of age or over. There is a three day waiting period for persons who are between 15-17 years of age to receive a marriage license unless accompanied by both parents of both underage parties.
• A Tennessee marriage license is valid for 30 days after the County Clerk issues it.
• The marriage may be executed outside of Tennessee but you must return the license to the issuing Clerk for recording and filing with the Tennessee Vital Records Office.
• The officiant must endorse the marriage license and return it to the County Clerk within three days of the wedding.
Step 6: If you haven’t already, hire a wedding planner.
If you can afford it or just need some extra help, consider hiring a wedding planner. We can help you coordinate the various elements of planning your wedding from venues to photographers. We also promise to help decrease everyone’s stress levels on your wedding day.