The Big Day is coming up soon and there are so many little details to finalize and getting your marriage license should be one of them! Knowing what the marriage license requirements are in your local state can save you time and money. These handy tips apply to most states! Couples who are obtaining a marriage license in Tennessee or the surrounding areas like Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, and Knoxville will find it very beneficial. Many couples get overwhelmed because they just don't know how to get a marriage license. We’ve broken down the basics so that you can walk down the aisle in confidence with confidence knowing your marriage is both recognized and legal! But first, check out our FREE Clean Up Fact Sheet to help you coordinate a super fast and easy cleanup post-wedding!
What is the difference between a marriage license and a marriage certificate?
In simple terms, a marriage license is a document that you obtain from the county clerk’s office that consists of your information, such as your name, address, Officiant, and witness. A marriage certificate is what proves that you’re married. Once the ceremony is over, the Officiant will sign both so that the marriage license can be mailed back and you take your marriage certificate to get your name changed (if you plan on changing your name). Unfortunately, this does mean you will have to visit your local courthouse for a marriage license. Don't worry! We'll get you prepared before you go!
Who can officiate?
This is one of the most frequent questions that are asked. It really depends on the state that you are getting married in. For Knox County, the law states that the minister must be a keeper of souls. In other words, Tennessee does not recognize online ordinations as valid. However, many states do and there are groups trying to change this law. It's important you find clear clarification on this point. Be sure any chosen officiant is properly recognized before the day arrives.
Who will mail it or send it in?
Most officiants will gladly mail your marriage license in the mail, but anyone can do it! A family member or friend can do this, but make sure they are responsible and trustworthy before you give them this enormous task!
How many witnesses do you need?
Again, it depends on your county. In Knox County, you will only need the presence of one witness. Traditionally, your witness can be your Best Man or your Maid/Matron of Honor! Depending on the county, they will need to print their name, provide their address, and sign.
How much does a marriage license cost?
I know that this sounds like a broken record, but it really does depend on your county. Knox County marriage licenses are currently $97.50, but the number decreases if you have completed a premarital course. When you are configuring your budget for the wedding, be sure to add this cost in. Many couples forget about the fee and then are surprised when they’re filling out the paperwork!
What do I need to bring to the county clerk's office?
Many states require a copy of your birth certificate, your driver’s license, and/or your social security card! Most states no longer require blood tests, but be sure to look at your county’s website for more information. If either you or your fiancé are under 18, you will need parental consent in order to get married. There are also separate applications if either partner is incarcerated or disabled. This might sound obvious, but both parties must be present in order to fill out a marriage license.
How long is my marriage license valid for?
Your marriage certificate lasts about 30 days from the time that it was issued. However, make sure to take a look at the county’s website to see if there is a waiting period involved before your “I Do’s”. Some states require this in order to give either partner a chance to change their mind. For Tennessee, there is a 3 day waiting period if you are under 18, but otherwise, you can get married immediately!
In the day and age of technology, obtaining a marriage license has become so easy to do! Most county clerk’s office has an online pre-application instead of having to fill it out at the office, which makes getting a license even easier and faster! It only covers the general information, but will still save you a ton of time! Speaking of time, we recommend going to the courthouse in the morning instead of waiting until the afternoon. Not only will there be fewer people, but sometimes the clerk’s office closes earlier on certain days, which makes everything become more stressful!
Getting a marriage license may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! The best advice is to not only look at our blog but to check out your county clerk’s website. Many websites are easy to read and will have all the requirements laid out for you! We hope that these tips will help you alleviate the stress so that you can focus on getting married to the one you love! Happy Planning!
For more expert wedding planning advice, follow us @thebridelink