Marriage License

REQUIREMENTS TO OBTAIN A MARRIAGE LICENSE

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The marriage license is valid for thirty (30) days from issuance and is good for ceremonies performed anywhere in Tennessee. The only marriage law information available from this office pertains to Tennessee only. We do not provide information on divorce or annulment.

 MARRIAGE LICENSE APPLICATION

You may complete the downloadable form or fill one out at the County Clerk’s Office.

You may also apply online by clicking here and clicking on Marriage Application.

Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. 36-3-104(a) (1997), “No county clerk nor deputy clerk shall issue a marriage license until the applicants make an application in writing, stating the names, ages, addresses and social security numbers of both the proposed male and female contracting parties and the names and addresses of the parents, guardian or next of kin of both parties.” The application must be sworn to by both parties. Id. The requirement of a social security number was added by legislative amendment, Acts 1997, ch. 551, 30, effective July 1, 1997.

PREMARITAL PREPARATION COURSE

To qualify for the exemption by attending a premarital preparation course, both applicants must submit a Certification of Completion completed by the course provider showing that they have attended the course together, or separately, within one year of the date of application to the County Clerk for the license. The Certification of Completion form defines the law as to qualifications of persons who are eligible to conduct the four (4) hours of premarital preparation training required by public Chapter No. 854.

The new law gives minimal guidance as to the content of the course. It states that the course may include:

The types of persons who can provide the approved premarital preparation course are:

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How may I obtain a copy of a Birth Certificate?
You may download an Application for Certified Copy of Certificate of Birth.

How do I obtain a certified copy of my marriage license?
If you obtained your marriage license in Davidson County within the past ten years, your records are located in our office. Mail a written request including the bride’s full maiden name, the groom’s name, the date of the marriage, and $5.00 for each copy requested. Please make your check payable to the Davidson County Clerk’s Office. Mail your request to the Davidson County Clerk’s Office, Attention Marriage Department, P.O. Box 196333, Nashville, TN 37219-6333. Requests are processed and returned the same day they are received. Download a form to request a copy of your marriage certificate.

If you need a copy of a marriage license of someone married in Davidson County between 1780 and 1992, contact Metro Archives.

If you need a copy of a marriage license of someone married in Tennessee within the last 50 years, contact Tennessee Vital Records.

Who can solemnize a marriage?
The rite of matrimony may be solemnized by any of the following persons listed in T.C.A. § 36-3-301:

  1. All regular ministers, preachers, pastors, priests, rabbis, and other religious leaders of every religious belief, more than 18 years of age, having the care of souls.
  2. Current and former members of county legislative bodies.
  3. County mayors/executives and former county mayors/executives.
  4. Current and former judges and chancellors of this state.
  5. Current and former judges of general sessions courts.
  6. The governor.
  7. The county clerk of each county.
  8. Current and former speakers of the senate and speakers of the house of representatives.
  9. Mayors of municipalities.

In 1997 the General Assembly authorized all elected officials and former officials who are authorized to perform marriages to do so in any county in the State of Tennessee. T.C.A. § 36-3-301(i).6

For all marriages after April 15, 1998, in order to solemnize the rite of matrimony a 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 ordination or designation by a considered, deliberate, and responsible act. T.C.A. § 36-3-301(a)(2) (added by 1998 Public Chapter 745). The county clerk, however, has neither the authority nor the duty to examine the qualifications of persons seeking to solemnize the rite of matrimony. Op. Tenn. Att’y Gen. 97-139 (10/9/97). The county clerk cannot require proof that an officiant is, in fact, a minister or other authorized person. Op. Tenn.
Att’y Gen. 87-151 (9/17/87).

For marriage purposes, 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. However, the term former judges does not include any judge who has been convicted of a felony or who has been removed from office. T.C.A. § 36-3-301(a). The term “retired judges of this state” shall be construed to include persons who served as judges of any municipal or county court in any county which 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. T.C.A. § 36-3-301(e). Also, any person who was a member of a quarterly county court on August 1, 1984 can perform marriages. T.C.A. § 17-1-206. All judges, including city judges, are included among the officials who may solemnize marriages. An elected city judge may perform a marriage in any county in Tennessee, but an appointed city judge is authorized to solemnize a marriage only in the city where the judge holds office. Op Tenn. Att’y Gen. 02-112 (10/10/02).

Deputy county clerks under the authority of T.C.A. § 18-1-108(4) have full power to transact the business of the county clerk and therefore, according to Op. Tenn. Att’y Gen. 85-243 (9/18/85), have the power to solemnize a marriage.

Why should we participate in the premarital preparation course?
There are not many couples that get married with the intention of ever getting a divorce although there are about 33,000 Tennessee couples that do divorce every year, typically affecting around 60,000 children. Tennessee has one of the highest divorce rates in the country. Going through a divorce is not a pleasant experience nor are the things that led up to the reason for divorce. Tennessee’s voluntary premarital preparation course is an attempt to lessen the number of divorces in the state.

What happens if I purchase a marriage license but don’t get married?

If a marriage license application is not signed by an officiant solemnizing the marriage and returned to our office the marriage is not recorded in the County’s Marriage Registry.  The marriage license fee is non-refundable, however, the $5 fee for a certified copy of the marriage certificate will be refunded upon request.

What are some of the restrictions of who can get married to whom?

Tennessee does not allow persons of the same sex to get married in Tennessee. Both man and woman must have proof that they are at least 18 years old. Acceptable proof includes a social security card, driver’s license, state-issued birth certificate, visa, or passport.

If either applicant is under 18 years of age, the parents, next of kin, guardian, or person having custody of the applicant are required to join in the application, under oath, stating that the applicant is 16 years of age or over and that the applicant has their consent to marry. If the applicant is in the legal custody of any public or private agency or in the legal custody of any person other than a parent, guardian or next of kin, then such person or the duly authorized representative of such agency must join in the application with the parent, guardian or next of kin, stating under oath that the applicant is 16 years of age or older but less than 18 years of age and that the applicant has their consent to marry. This provision does not apply to applicants who are in the custody of the department of mental health and mental retardation. Tenn. Code Ann. 36-3-106.

Does Tennessee recognize Common Law Marriages?
Marriage is controlled by statute and not common law in Tennessee. Although Tennessee does not recognize common law marriages, Tennessee will recognize a valid common law marriage entered into in a jurisdiction which recognizes common law marriages. In re Estate of Glover, 882 S.W.2d 789 (Tenn. App 1994); Andrew v. Signal Auto Parts, Inc., 492 S.W.2d 222 (Tenn. 1972); Lightsey v. Lightsey, 407 S.W.2d 684, 56 Tenn. App 394 (Tenn. App 1966); Troxel v. Jones, 322 S.W.2d 251, 45 Tenn. App 264 (tenn. App. 1959). But see Crawford v Crawford, 198 Tenn. 9, 277 S.W.2d 389 (1955) (parties may be estopped to deny marriage, as between themselves, in exceptional circumstances).

How can I research or get a copy of a family member’s marriage license?
Contact the Tennessee Vital Records office at 615-741-1763.

If you have any questions not answered in the above information, please call us at (615) 862-6256.