Finding A Wedding Officiant for Your Smoky Mountain Wedding
In a classic wedding ceremony, there are three people front-and-center. In the spotlight are the newlyweds, brides, and grooms through the centuries holding hands and breathlessly waiting to be wed. Just beyond them, facing the couple and the crowd is the officiant. This is the single most important piece of your marriage plans. Why? Because, without the officiant, a wedding is just a big party in the eyes of the law. Who can officiate a Tennessee wedding? To marry legally in Tennessee, you need a state-approved wedding officiant to sign the papers and make your blissful union official.
Traditionally, the officiant represents society’s acceptance of the union. A religious leader, or sometimes a government figure, blesses the union in the eyes of the community and the state. Couples often choose a religious leader who has offered spiritual guidance to their families. Or a friend who has been ordained in a respected tradition. Those getting married in Tennessee must choose their officiant carefully, ensuring their marriage will be legally accepted as ordained.
Who Can Officiate a Tennessee Wedding?
Wedding officiants in Tennessee must meet a few specific criteria. The two types of officiant are split between ordained religious leaders and government officials. The legal definitions for both groups can be found in Tennessee law T.C.A. § 36-3-301(a) which defines who is permitted to ‘solemnize’ marriages in the state.
Ordained-In-Person Religious Leaders
The first category is ordained, religious leaders. First, they must be over 18 years old “having the care of souls.” This includes pastors, ministers, reverends, deacons, rabbis, chaplains, and other ordained religious roles. In addition to being an ordained religious leader, Tennessee requires that wedding officiants be ordained in person. As of June 1, 2019, weddings are legal if the religious officiant has been ordained at an in-person ceremony. This excludes those ordained through an online program.
State & County Government Officials
The alternative to a religious officiant is to choose a government officiant. Many roles in the Tennessee government (and former holders of those roles) are authorized to perform weddings. The most common example is couples who want to skip the ceremony and become legally wed by their county clerk. Beyond the clerks, your wedding could also be officiated by a mayor, judge, chancellor, former judge, and even the governor of Tennessee.
Physically Present with Marrying Couple
Lastly, your wedding officiant must be present with the marrying couple at the ceremony. While this was rarely a concern before COVID, pandemic-era weddings have been getting creative about distancing. In Tennessee, the couple, the officiant, and their legal witnesses all need to be in the same room for the wedding.
Can I Have a Virtual Wedding in Sevier County, Tennessee?
Virtual weddings are the hot new thing for keeping your whole family on the guest list without bringing everyone into one venue. Sevier County issues over 10,000 marriage licenses every year. The licenses are issued to couples who are physically present for their weddings. You can stream your wedding ceremony to countless friends and families in their homes. But, the main actors in your wedding need to be physically present. In modern terms, this classified Tennessee weddings as ‘streaming friendly’, but a fully virtual ‘Zoom wedding’ is not a viable plan. So prepare for stylish masks that match your wedding outfits, and your officiant will be equally glad to do the honors.
Can a Friend or Relative Officiate My Wedding in Tennessee?
Often, couples want a person close to them to officiate the wedding. However, your family pastor or your family friend may not be available to officiate your mountain wedding. If your friend or relative is already an ordained religious leader, the answer is likely yes! But only if they were ordained in an in-person ceremony. Should your wedding plans be put on hold, for this reason, it is possible to schedule an in-person ordination with several religious organizations.
How Do I Find a Tennessee Wedding Officiant?
Don’t have an officiant in mind? This is very normal for a couple with every other aspect of their wedding to plan. If you don’t have someone specific in mind, or your family religious leader is not available, let us recommend one of our Smoky Mountain Officiants.
The Smoky Mountain Wedding Collective has multiple officiants for you to choose from. From our list, you can someone whose ceremony style matches yours, and who is legally authorized to officiate weddings in Tennessee. All you have to do is fill out our contact form, and your email will go to all of the officiants in our Collective.
Planning a Picturesque Smoky Mountains Wedding
Every year, thousands of couples get married in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains. The breathtaking views and isolated wilderness feel contribute a sense of majestic beauty to your perfect union. From mountain lodges to mountaintop venues, Sevier County, Tennessee hosts countless weddings each year for both local and destination wedding couples.
Are you planning a wedding in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains? Building that perfect experience is yours to command. Whether you want to plan every detail or find the best possible professional wedding vendors, we can help. Contact us today to build the perfect Smoky Mountain Wedding Experience.