Applying for a Tennessee marriage license is the first step in getting your marriage certificate. Marriage licenses differ from certificates in that you must apply for a license before you can get married. A certified copy of marriage certificate documents, on the other hand, proves that you are legally married in Tennessee. The marriage registration process in Tennessee involves several steps before and after your wedding. When planning your wedding, you will want to know how to get a marriage certificate copy as well as a duplicate marriage certificate in the event that your original document is lost. You may also apply for a certified marriage certificate copy from the state or the county in which you got married. On the other hand, if you want to access marriage records for informational purposes instead, Tennessee has many resources that you may use. In the sections below, learn everything you need to know about wedding records and marriage registration in Tennessee.
Tennessee Marriage License Application Procedures
The steps you complete when applying for a marriage license vary depending on which county in Tennessee you live in. For example, you may apply for a marriage certificate online in some counties, but not in others. When you apply for marriage licenses in Tennessee, you will receive three separate documents: the Rites of Matrimony, the Certified Copy and the Certificate of Marriage. The Rites of Matrimony and Certificate of Marriage documents are completed at the wedding and are signed by the officiant, bride, groom and witnesses, and are then filed with the County Clerk’s office. A wedding is not official until the two documents are filed with the Tennessee government. You will keep the Marriage License Certified Copy and use it for any official application that requires proof of your marital status. For example, you will need your marriage certificate to change your name at the Social Security Administration and the Driver Services department, among other locations.
How to Get a Tennessee Marriage Records
Since you automatically receive your copy of marriage certificate documentation during the TN marriage license application process, it is important to understand how to get a duplicate in the event that you lose or damage your original copy. A replacement marriage certificate can be obtained from the Tennessee Department of Health’s Office of Vital Records if you got married less than 50 years ago. In the event of a lost marriage certificate from a wedding that occurred more than 50 years ago, you must contact the Tennessee County Clerk in the county where the wedding occurred.
To obtain a copy of a Tennessee marriage certificate from the Office of Vital Records, you must submit an Application for a Certified Copy of Certificate of Marriage. Your marriage record application must include:
- A payment for each copy you request.
- The names of the bride and groom, including the bride’s maiden name.
- The city and county where the marriage license was obtained.
- The date and location of the wedding.
- Your relationship to the bride and groom and your reason for needing a copy.
- Your name and contact information.
In Tennessee, note that you can only obtain a certified copy of a marriage certificate if you are the bride or groom, or the parent, guardian, child or legal representative of the bride or groom. The Office of Vital Records accepts wedding record applications in person, at self-service kiosks and through the mail. You may need to provide a photocopy of your government-issued photo ID or have your application notarized if you do not apply in person.
You cannot currently apply for a marriage record online directly from the Tennessee Office of Vital Records.
Searching Tennessee Wedding Records
Understanding how marriage certificate records are filed in Tennessee is helpful whether you are applying for a license, need to obtain a copy or want to perform a marriage certificate search. The location where wedding records are stored depends on when and where a wedding took place in Tennessee. TN marriage license records are maintained by the Office of Vital Records for 50 years before they are transferred to the Tennessee State Library and Archives. To find marriage records that are not available in any state-wide database, you may need to search the historical records in your county or city. A marriage license search can be difficult if you are doing a genealogical study and do not know when or where historical weddings took place. You will generally be charged for each time a search is conducted on your behalf. To save money, you can perform a marriage record search by examining the Tennessee State Library and Archives files yourself.
While a Tennessee marriage license lookup is useful for historical and genealogical purposes, you still cannot obtain an official marriage record copy by searching public records. Even if you locate your own wedding certificate in public records, it cannot be used for official purposes.