By Paula Walter
The office of Tammie Fenner, Johnson County Clerk, is typically a busy place. Not only does the office register and title vehicles, provide license plates and registrations and renewals, but also it is the place to come to obtain a marriage license.
In order to obtain a marriage license, you need to bring some form of picture identification that shows your birthdate. “We encourage you to bring your birth certificate,” Fenner stated. Proof of Social Security number is also required for both the bride and the groom. You do not need to be a resident of Tennessee in order to be married in the state.
Applicants also need to provide the bride and groom’s parents’ names and their places of birth. There is no waiting period once your marriage license is issued if the couple is 18 or older. Those 16 to 18 must have the consent of both parents or next of kin. There is a waiting period of three days for those applicants. Licenses are only good for 30 days and can be used anywhere in Tennessee. Both parties must be present in order to obtain a marriage license.
In addition to ordained preachers, there are other officials in the county who can perform marriage ceremonies. These include Fenner as the county clerk, any current county commissioner, any past commissioner, county mayor, former judge or anyone who is an ordained minister.
There is a fee of $102 for the marriage license. However, you may participate in a premarital preparation course that will reduce the cost by $60, dropping the cost of the license to $42. The course must not be less than four hours and it must be completed a maximum of one year prior to the date of application for the license. Couples may attend separate classes, but if they do, each party will need to provide a certificate of completion. Tennessee does not certify or provide a list of providers. The names of those who meet the qualifications to provide premarital preparation courses can be found at www2.state.tn.us/health/licensure/index.htm or check in a local phone book. The website does not guarantee those listed are willing to provide the premarital course. Check with your preacher or counselor to see if they offer the premarital preparation course.
According to Fenner, applications for marriage licenses peak in the summer months. “It’s always busy around Valentine’s Day,” Fenner said. “There are not a whole lot of applications in the winter.”
There are more civil marriages performed in Johnson County than church marriages by approximately 60 to 40. In 2017, there were 152 marriage licenses issued.