The Ultimate Guide to Getting Married in Tennessee

There are a lot of don't-miss attractions when you're getting married in Tennessee from the Great Smoky Mountains to Dollywood to the Tennessee Aquarium.

Among Tennessee’s many claims to fame are the Great Smoky Mountains, hot chicken, Tennessee whiskey, Dolly and Elvis, and many other pieces of a rich Appalachian history that make this state so beloved. Winding rivers, rolling hills, and humble mountains contribute to sunny Tennessee’s beauty, and many music legends have made this state home for their magic.

Tennessee also plays host to a slew of wedding venues that are just as beautiful and unique as the state’s rich history. From southern mansions to chic barns, you can find the right style for your personal tastes as you craft your wedding plans. There are endless ways to make your day as classically Tennessee as a five-piece bluegrass band. We’ve got some great info for you on getting married in Tennessee, from understanding trends to changing your name after you tie the knot.

If you're getting married in Tennessee, know that barn weddings will never go out of style.

TN Wedding Trends

Your Tennessee wedding can be whatever you’ve dreamt of from rustic to upscale to urban, but there are some trends that seem to scream southern wedding, such as barn venues! The barn wedding will likely never go out of style, and there are so many options across the state from super rustic to high-brow chic. Other popular venue choices for Tennessee weddings include private gardens, historic homes, religious institutions, and farms.

When it comes to decor, a lot of couples go with a formal or semi-formal affair, while a smaller percentage opts for a casual vibe, and about half of Tennessee weddings are indoor while the other are outdoor. When selecting a venue, however, it’s a great idea to choose a place with some flexibility in case the weather doesn’t cooperate for your big day. Having options for moving the party indoors is always a great built-in security measure. Tennessee weather is notoriously unpredictable.

If you're getting married in Tennessee, it's a fun idea to incorporate classic southern foods like bbq into your wedding meal.

Other Tennessee wedding trends include rustic flourishes like mason jar centerpieces, wildflowers, and other folksy mountain touches. Wedding meals often include menu items that are inspired by classic southern cuisine– fried chicken and BBQ– and whiskey cocktails reign supreme. No matter what you choose, there are plenty of ways to offer your nod to Appalachian culture on your big day.

Budgeting for Your Tennessee Wedding

Of course, when it comes to wedding planning and budgets, each couple’s journey looks different than the next. It can be tricky balancing those wedding dreams and the reality of the budget you’re working with, but no matter what your wedding bottom line is– the more you know, the better off you’ll be. It’s helpful to take a look at some statistics to get an idea of what the average couple is spending as you work out the details for your ceremony and reception.

Research shows that the average cost for a Tennessee wedding in 2019 was $16,183. According to the Knot’s 2018 Real Weddings Study, the national average cost of a wedding is $33,931. Their research also found average costs for vendors, attire, and more, and are as follows:

Venue: $2,382
Transportation: $856
Photographer: $2,679
Videographer: $2,021
Event Planner: $2,002
Officiant: $286
Dress: $1,631
Groom’s attire: $283
Hair and makeup: $225
Reception band: $4,247
Reception DJ: $1,292
Ceremony musicians: $797
Rehearsal dinner: $1,297
Cake: $528
Catering: $70 a head
Florals and decor: $2,411
Invites: $386
Favors: $245

Legally Wed

Wedding planning can be fun and exciting, but there are some nitty gritty details you’ll need to be sure to get sorted out before the main event. The legal aspects of marriage will require your attention from obtaining your Tennessee marriage license prior to your wedding day, to selecting and arranging to a proper officiant to perform the ceremony. These tasks may seem overwhelming, but they’re simple to accomplish, and here’s a how-to to make it easier on you.

How to get your marriage license when getting married in Tennessee

Getting A TN Marriage License

Obtaining a marriage license is simple. You and your significant other will need to go to your County Clerk’s office in person. Here’s a list of clerk’s offices in Tennessee, so you can easily locate yours.

  1. Complete the online Marriage Pre-Application to streamline the process. The application will automatically be submitted to your clerk’s office.
  2. Next you’ll pay a fee, the amount of which varies by county. That said, if you choose to complete a qualifying Premarital Preparation Course within one year of your wedding day, you can potentially receive a discount on the fee for licensure. Bring your certificate of completion with you to the clerk’s office to verify you’ve completed the course.
  3. Show one form of I.D.– driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, or Social Security card.
  4. Get hitched! There’s no waiting period to receive the license, so you can get married as soon as you complete the steps, however, it is only valid for 30 days, so be sure to factor that into your planning.
  5. Go ahead and get an extra copy or two of the marriage license to have on hand. You’ll need one if/when you legally change your name.
Officiant Options for your TN Wedding

You’ll also need to ensure you make arrangements for a proper officiant to perform your ceremony while getting married in Tennessee. The following officials can perform the ceremony and legally solemnize your vows:

  • Minister
  • Rabbi
  • Priest
  • Mayor
  • Judge
  • County Clerk
  • Tennessee Governor
  • Court Commissioner
  • Some members of the legislature

After the ceremony, your officiant of choice must sign the marriage certificate, and file it on your behalf.

Depending on your wedding plans, there may be other permits and legal requirements to tend to before your big day. If you’re getting married in Tennessee outdoors or in a public space, there may be additional permits and fees you need to arrange for. Be sure to check into other stipulations such as number of guests allowed, volume limits for music and entertainment, and any restrictions regarding tents, etc. You’ll also want to look into liquor permits necessary depending on your venue of choice.

Changing Your Name in TN

If you decide to change your last name after getting married, here’s what you need to know about that process. First of all, you’ll need to get a new Social Security card with your new name on it. To obtain this, simply submit a copy of your marriage license, your driver’s license or passport, a US birth certificate or certificate of citizenship, and application for a new Social Security card.

After you get your new SS card in the mail, you can take that to the DMV to get your new driver’s license. You’ll need to bring your current license and the certified copy of your marriage license, and pay a fee. You will also want to update your name on other important documents and accounts to avoid confusion and issues going forward. Then all that’ll be left to do is bask in the glory of your new name and undying love!

When to Tie the Knot in TN

Timing is everything, so choose your wedding date carefully. If you opt for a summer wedding, just know you’ll have 90+ temps and wild humidity to deal with. If you’re thinking more fall wedding vibes, temps are typically more in the 60s and 70s range in October and November, and you’ll reap the benefits of the brilliantly colorful, changing leaves (talk about great photo ops). Regardless of when you choose to set that date, Tennessee weather is relatively mild and manageable for events. It’s really an ideal place to wed any time of the year.

Dates to Avoid When You Set Yours

If you’re getting married in Tennessee, when you do settle on a wedding location, it’s important to pay attention to popular local events that could pull potential guests away from your gathering. Venues and lodging may be more costly during large events like music and film festivals, which could make things more expensive or difficult for your guests. Below are some big Tennessee events to be mindful of as you plan:

  • Nashville Antiques & Garden Show (early February)
  • Nashville Film Festival (mid April)
  • Bonnaroo (early June/Manchester, TN)
  • Riverbend Music Festival (early to mid June/Chattanooga)
  • CMA Music Festival (early June/Nashville)
  • Memphis Music & Heritage Festival (Labor Day weekend)
  • Oktoberfest (mid October/Nashville)
  • Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade (early December/Gatlinburg)

Tennessee Wedding Guest Experience

Tennessee has two international airports– in Memphis and Nashville– as well as Chattanooga’s Metropolitan Airport, and McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville. That means your out-of-town guests can easily travel in to join the festivities. Be sure to share with them some of the best attractions Tennessee has to offer, in case they want to extend their trip and see some of the sights. Hiking in the mountains, sampling moonshine, and visiting places like the Grand Ole Opry will give them a taste of what Tennessee is all about. Encourage your friends, family, and wedding attendees to carve out some time for a little exploring and point them in the general direction of some of these most beloved attractions:

If you're getting married in Tennessee, you might want to check out some local attractions like the Jack Daniels distillery.

Enjoying Every Step of the Way

No matter where or how you decide to say “I do,” we hope this guide has provided you with some useful tips to make your wedding planning go more smoothly. Our team at Howe Farms would love to host you and your guests at one of our several venues on site. We’re here to help answer any additional questions you may have about getting married in Tennessee, specifically at our Chattanooga wedding venue.

We think Tennessee is one of the finest places on earth, and we know if you choose to tie the knot in these beautiful rolling hills, you’ll love every minute of it. Cheers, and best of luck with your planning!