has been major confusion surrounding our state's new laws
governing who solemnizes (performs) marriages in Tennessee.
Just what IS the law, and who is legally authorized
to perform your marriage ceremony in our state? This page
will cut through the confusion and help you decide which
type of ceremony is right for you,
Even though a local county official recently stated "you
can not require ordainment to do a service," It wasn't clear
to the public, that this applied to the civil ceremony
only, NOT the religious ceremony. According to our state's
attorney general, our law requires that any minister,
preacher, pastor, priest, rabbi or other spiritual leader
(acting in a spiritual role), MUST be ordained or otherwise
designated in conformity with the customs of a church,
temple or other religious group or organization, and such
customs must provide for such ordination or designation by a
considered, deliberate and responsible act. "Same
sex" marriages are not legal in our state and carry a
jail or prison sentence for any county court clerk convicted
of granting the license.
Civil ceremonies are typically performed by judges, city or
county officials or others duly appointed by the city or
county to solemnize marriages. We do not have issues with
this method because an ordained minister is NOT needed for
the proceedings. Our constitution provides this means of
legalizing the marriages for persons such as atheists, or
others who may find it offensive to have God or religion
mentioned in their ceremony.. It's the perfect way to go if
all you want to do, is "make it quick, cheap and legal." and
don't require any of the religious aspects. If you'll be
choosing the civil ceremony, read no further. Go find a
qualified city/county/state official to tie the knot, and
best of luck to you in your new lives together!
remainder of this page will only pertain to the couples
wishing their marriage ceremony be "religious" in nature and
want it performed by a qualified minister)
you choose the religious ceremony, you may want to be
informed of some new (and very defined) guidelines regarding
the religious ceremony and just "who" is qualified to
solemnize your ceremony in Tennessee. If you are choosing
this option, our state requires that the person performing
the marriage be duly ordained by a church body, and or
otherwise designated in conformity with the customs of a
church, temple or other religious group or organization. As
you will see in the following collection of news articles
and state statutes, there are certain ordination
credentials (such as the Universal Life Church, based
which are NOT LEGAL in our state and your wedding may not be
legal if performed by a person possessing these type
This page is
dedicated to helping you make the right decisions in
choosing your minister.--One who is duly ordained by God and
qualified to perform your marriage in our state.
Wedding in Tennessee may not be legal !
According to Tennessee State House
Bill #2079, passed by the 71st Legislature (voted 94 to
0), religious ceremonies must be performed by a
church-ordained minister having the care of souls (or a
civil service by a county official). Mail order or
internet obtained ordination papers do not permit a
person to perform legal marriages according to our state
(see article from the News-Sentinel to above right)
Here is a recent
excerpt from the Knoxville News-Sentinel
(Nashville Bureau) The State Attorney General has
cast doubt on the legality of some marriages. The
opinion was prompted by reports that ceremonies were
performed in some Gatlinburg "wedding chapels" by men
whose only claim to status as a minister is a
mail-order certificate. The Attorney General said
that this is not enough to qualify a person to perform
marriages as a minister under state law.
The bill approved 94-0 and sent to the Senate
declares that for all marriages performed, a person
wishing to be recognized as a minister for marriage
purposes must have participated in an ordination
ceremony or other "considered, deliberated and
responsible act."The bill was sponsored by Reps. Beth
Halteman Harwell, R-Nashville and Tim Burchett,
to see if there was any screening
involved in getting one of these mail-order/online
licenses, here's an example of an ordination certificate
obtained online by Rev. Dr. Taylor for his pet dog
you find it unacceptable if your minister carried the
same credentials that can be obtained for a family pet,
(no questions asked)? Many of the ministers that perform
marriages here in this state, have been doing so with
fraudulent credentials like this. A person was recently
arrested in TN
for using these same type documents to validate their
ministerial status. Bottom line, these marriages are
not legal in Tennessee!
our ministers are church-ordained pastors, ordained by a
church body, and set apart for the purpose of full time
For more info, call Smoky Mountain Ministerial Alliance
is an excerpt from USA Today,
Dated January 3, 2003.
Olivia Barker reporting...
few clicks of the mouse, just about anyone can become
ordained to perform weddings just about anywhere. The
non-denominational Universal Life church has empowered
more than 20 million people for free since 1959. Since
1995, the church has turned 676,000 men and women into
people of a certain cloth via the web, frequently to
perform weddings. "It's a witness for the state, that's
all ordination is," says Brother Daniel Zimmerman,
spokesman for the Modesto California-based Universal Life
thought an ordination certificate like the one above is
legal in Tennessee, You'd better read this news story!
Below is an
article dated April 28, 2004, text copied verbatim from the
Kingsport Times News, Kingsport TN.
Former owner of Wedding Loft arrested
Sunday, April 28, 17443
NET News Service
- The former owner of the Wedding Loft in Jonesborough, who
left couples wondering in the late 1990s whether their
marriages were valid, was arrested last week on charges she
was not properly credentialed.
who is charged in Washington County Criminal Court with
impersonating a licensed professional, faces a maximum of
six years behind bars. She is accused of impersonating an
ordained minister from May 3, 1993, until March 10, 1999,
when she performed more than 600 weddings.
actions led to an emergency bill being passed in the
Assembly to validate marriages in the state that took place
from April 15, 1998, to June 1, 1999. The law was designed
to ease the minds of about 70 couples who had been married
bill addressed problems with earlier marriages after
problems with other ministers and their qualifications came
indicted in 1999 but was not arrested until last week.
District Attorney Joe Crumley said she was not making
herself easy to find.
her sighted several times over the last couple of years,
usually out of the country," Crumley said. "I think she was
seen in Canada and then somewhere in the central part of the
United States, but she would get back over the border before
anybody was able to apprehend her. We knew sooner or later
that she would probably come back."
being housed in the Washington County Detention Center until
she posts a $5,000 bond. She is scheduled to be arraigned
June 29 in criminal court.
glad to have Gorst in the court system, where she will have
to face accusations she was not properly licensed to marry
people even though she said she was.
"I hate to
have any case just out there just left unsolved," he said.
"I know when the case first broke, there were a lot of
people who were affected by what she did. We did get a
number of calls, usually people wanting to know whether or
not they were legally married ... especially once they had
one of the major issues in her case will be to repay the
couples any money they lost through her actions. Another
bill she might have to pay is the cost of the legislature
having to pass the special act.
Doyle Cloyd told the Associated Press in 1999 that his
employees became suspicious of Gorst when she started
writing "civil" on marriage licenses to indicate the type of
wedding ceremony. Previously, she had written "religious" on
who got married at the Wedding Loft in 1993, said Gorst had
held herself out to be an ordained Methodist minister,
according to the AP. But others said Gorst told them that
she received her credentials through a mail-order company
the facility in February 1999. The new owner, Patti Lewis,
said she used two ordained ministers for weddings there.
Rev. Dr. Ed
D.D. - Th. D.
Taylor came to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains in
1980 and soon discovered that a great need existed in the
area for couples to be married by a duly ordained minister
with the dignity and respect that they so deserved. He
discovered that none of the local .churches in the area
would consent to marry anyone that was not affiliated with
their own church membership. Consequently anyone that
wished to be married in the Smoky Mountains area would be
forced to marry with the Justice of the Peace in a "seed
and feed" store... So in 1980 Rev. Taylor established
Gatlinburg Tourist Ministries, Inc. and since that humble
beginning some 25 years ago, we have now ministered to and
married over 85,000 Couples!
believe that everyone should be married with dignity and
respect, by a duly ordained minister and our motto has
Find the Need
and Fill it...
Find the Problem, and solve it...
Find the Hurt and Heal it...
like you to know that we are a real church attending to the
needs of our married couples FAR BEYOND their initial
wedding date! Here is a scan from the Sevier County Yellow
Pages dated 1-31-05 clearly showing we have been here since
1979 in the Sevier County area. NO OTHER chapel facility in
our area can boast this kind of longevity!
Trust the wedding professionals to make your wedding day a
memory you'll treasure for a lifetime.
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