How to get Ordained in Tennessee to Officiate

Written and reviewed by the wedding law liaison team at the Universal Life Church.

Welcome to the Tennessee marriage laws guide. Performing a wedding ceremony can be a great honor, but being an officiant also comes with important duties. For this reason we've created this guide for both the minister and the couple. So that you are sure everything goes smoothly on the big day, we recommend following this guide. You will read about how to become a wedding minister, how to marry someone, and what needs to be done to ensure that the ceremony is legal in Tennessee.

Here are the basic steps one must follow to officiate a wedding:

  1. Getting Ordained in Tennessee

    Becoming a marriage officiant with the ULC is simpler than you might think. The online ordination process is quick and cost free to all those who feel so-called to ministry. Legally licensed ministers ordained by the ULC officiate many weddings and other ceremonies each year. After you've received your minister license, officiating a wedding is just a few steps away! Click the button below to get started.

  2. How Do You Perform a Wedding in Tennessee

    Your first step is to contact the office that is issuing the marriage license, which is typically the county clerk. Once in contact with this office you need to ask what is required for a minister to legally perform a marriage in this jurisdiction. You may be asked to present several different items to confirm you are an ordained minister. Each county can have their own requirements, so it's always a good idea to contact the office before you perform any wedding, even when there are two within the same state.

    If you encounter any government official making assertions that your ordination may not be valid, please reach out to us as soon as possible so that we can investigate how we might assist you.

    Select a county to see contact information for each office:

  3. Tennessee Wedding Officiant Requirements

    Once you've spoken with the office issuing the license and determined what you need then you are ready to log in to your account and visit the store catalog to purchase the documents. Based on feedback from our ministers in Tennessee, we recommend picking up a Classic Wedding Set.

    Ministers are generally not required to register in Tennessee, but even if there isn't a legal necessity the couple might like to see them. If you do decide to order any documents or supplies, please order these well in advance of the ceremony.

  4. How to Get a Tennessee Marriage License

    Marriage licenses are issued by the county clerk's office in Tennessee. The couple will pick up the license, but the minister should still research and understand the rules for marriage licenses in Tennessee and its counties. For example, if the couple is getting a license from Knox County then make sure to familiarize yourself with the rules of Knox County to help make sure the couple is doing everything correctly according to the law.

    In Tennessee, marriage licenses are valid for 30 days. Note that there is not a mandatory waiting period - this means that the couple can immediately get married after receiving their license. Once the ceremony has been completed, the signed marriage license must be returned within 3 days.

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  5. How Do You Officiate a Wedding?

    Once you have all your documents in hand and you've checked to make sure your online ordination is recognized, you're ready to perform the wedding! Don't hesitate to utilize the tools found below to help prepare yourself for the ceremony. These carefully curated resources will give you helpful tips and provide insight on all facets of performing a wedding ceremony. Created specifically for our Universal Life Church wedding officiants, these guides and tools contain all that you'll need to create and perform the perfect ceremony.

    Many ULC ministers have used these same resources for guidance when becoming professional officiants!

  6. Signing the Marriage License in Tennessee

    Now there's just one final step - but it's an important one! After performing the wedding, you must sign the marriage license (along with the couple). Your official title will be "Minister"; for ceremony type, put "Religious", and for denomination, write "Non-Denominational". No license number is required. The name of the church is "Universal Life Church".

    If the document asks for the church's address then you should use your personal ministry or home address. Lastly, remember that the signed license must be turned in to the marriage office before the deadline passes!

Tennessee Marriage Laws

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Tennessee marriage laws are governed by Chapter 3 of Title 36 of the code of Tennessee. This section explains who is legally authorized to officiate weddings in the State of Tennessee. This typically includes ministers of the Universal Life Church. The relevant section is displayed below:

Universal Citation: TN Code § 36-3-103 (2015) (a) Before being joined in marriage, the parties shall present to the minister or officer a license under the hand of a county clerk in this state, directed to such minister or officer, authorizing the solemnization of a marriage between the parties. Such license shall be valid for thirty (30) days from its issuance by the clerk.

(c) (1) The county clerk issuing a marriage license is hereby authorized to record and certify any license used to solemnize a marriage that is properly signed by the officiant when such license is returned to the issuing county clerk. The issuing county clerk shall forward the record to the office of vital records to be filed and registered with such office. If a license issued by a county clerk in Tennessee is used to solemnize a marriage outside Tennessee, such marriage and parties, their property and their children shall have the same status as if the marriage were solemnized in this state. A county clerk is prohibited from issuing a license for a marriage that is prohibited in this state.

View the Tennessee Statutes on the official government state website.

Is it Legal For You to Perform a Tennessee Wedding?

Review the Marriage Law

Want to Learn More about Ministry in Tennessee?

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