Certification and Return of the License

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The county clerk is required to place on each license the following form of certificate, to be signed by the person solemnizing the marriage:

"I solemnized the rite of matrimony between the above (or within) named parties on the ___ day of ________ , 20__ ."  T.C.A. § 36-3-304.

Sample marriage license with the required certificate.

The authorized officiant who performs the marriage ceremony is required to endorse on the license the fact and time of the marriage, and sign his or her name thereto, and return the license to the county clerk within three (3) days from the date of the marriage. Failure to return the license as required is a misdemeanor. T.C.A. § 36-3-303. The Certificate of Marriage required by the Tennessee Department of Health, Office of Vital Records, also must be completed and returned to the county clerk within this three-day time frame. T.C.A. § 68-3-401. In the case of marriages solemnized among the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), the functions, duties and liabilities of the party solemnizing marriages are incumbent upon the clerk of the congregation, or in the clerk’s absence, the clerk’s duly designated alternate. T.C.A. § 36-3-303.

A county clerk has no authority to require proof that an officiant is a "regular minister of the gospel" or other authorized person who meets the criteria of T.C.A. § 36-3-301, and must presume that the marriage is valid. Op. Tenn. Att’y Gen. 87-151 (9/17/87).

Failure of an officiant to return the marriage license to the issuing clerk within three days after the ceremony as required by the statute does not invalidate the marriage. Aghili v. Saadatnejadi, 958 S.W.2d 784 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1997).