California Weddings - Marriage Laws
Congratulations on your engagement! Here's what you need to
know to make the marriage legal in California.
In order to get married, you need to apply and receive a marriage
license. This is the document in your state that allows you
to officially tie the knot under the law. The rules for acquiring
your marriage license varies from state to state, so you should
check with your city's marriage bureau at your clerk of court's
office to find out what your local rules are.
You'll typically need to apply for your marriage license at
least one month before your wedding ceremony. You'll traditionally
need to send in your birth certificates, tax information,
and other official documents. You don't, however, want to
apply for your marriage license too early. In some states,
the licenses do expire, if you don't get married within a
When you apply for your license, you'll not only need a proof
of identification and age, will need to provide any information
about previous marriages, and will need to pay a nominal fee.
You will also need to have a witness when you sign the application,
so plan on bringing your maid of honor or best man with you.
The bride will need to know what her married name will be
before she signs the marriage certificate. You'll have to
write that name on the application.
And, believe it or not, just because you have your marriage
license sent to you in the mail does not mean you are officially
married. You need to have a justice of the peace or a religious
clergyman sign the document. On your wedding day, you'll give
your chaplain your marriage license, then after the ceremony,
he'll sign it and send it to the proper government agency
Appointment Suggested: It is recommended
that you call the County or City Clerk's office to see if
they suggest setting an appointment. You could find yourselves
in a long line with as much as a 2 hour wait without an appointment
in some locales.
ID Requirement: Picture id such as Drivers License
or other valid identification. Some counties recommend bringing
certified copies of your birth certificates. Know your parents
names, mothers' maiden name and places of their birth.
Application Requirement: Both the bride and
groom must appear in person at the time of applying.
Residency Requirement: Do not have to be
a resident of Califorina.
Waiting Period: No waiting period.
Previous Marriages: You must show proof of
divorce, death or annulment. You need to bring a copy of your
final divorce decree if you have divorced within the 90 days
through past year (varies by county.)
Fees: $80.00. Some counties will only accept
Other Tests: No tests.
Under 18: If either the bride or groom is
under 18, at least one of the minor's parents, or legal guardian,
must appear with the couple. Certified copies of birth certificates
are required. The couple must also schedule an appointment
with a counselor and then appear before a superior court judge.
Proxy Marriages: No.
Cousin Marriages: Yes.
Common Law Marriages: No.
Officiants: Any priest, minister, or rabbi
of any religious denomination, of the age of 18 years or over
may perform marriages. Ministers must complete the marriage
license and return it to the county clerk within 4 days after
Valid: License is valid for 90 days.
The license can only be used within the State of California.
Confidential License: A regular marriage
license is a public record. A license and Certificate of Confidential
Marriage is only accessible by the husband, wife, or by decree
signed by a superior court judge. At least one witness is
required to observe the solemnization for a regular, public
ceremony. No witnesses are required to observe a confidential
marriage ceremony. A regular license may be used throughout
the state. However, the confidential license may only be used
in the county of issue. The confidential license costs
$80.00 same as the regular license.
Solemnization Authority: Marriage may be
solemnized by any of the following who is of the age of 18
years or older:
A Priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious
A judge or retired judge, commissioner
of civil marriages or retired commissioner of civil marriages,
commissioner or retired commissioner, or assistant commissioner
of a court of record in this state.
A judge or magistrate who has resigned
Any of the following judges or magistrates
of the United States:
A. A justice or retired justice of the
United States Supreme Court.
B. A judge or retired judge of a court
of appeals, a district court, or a court created by an
act of Congress the Judges of which are entitled to hold
office during good behavior.
C. A judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy
court or a tax court.
D. A United States magistrate or retired
E. A legislator or constitutional officer
of this state or a member of Congress who represents a
district within this state, while that person holds office.
Each county offers civil ceremonies performed
by a judge or commissioner. The cost is approximately $40.00.
For additional information call your County Clerk's office.
California County Clerk's Office
Alameda County RecorderOakland, CA 510.272.6363
Alpine County RecorderMarkleeville, CA530.694.2281
Amador County RecorderJackson, CA 209.223.6469
Butte County RecorderOroville, CA530.538.7691
Calaveras County RecorderSan Andreas, CA209.754.6375
Colusa County RecorderColusa, CA530.458.0500
Contra Costa RecorderMartinez, CA 925.646.2360
County Of Orange RecorderSanta Ana, CA714.834.2500
Del Norte County RecorderCrescent City, CA707.464.7216
El Dorado County RecorderPlacerville, CA530.621.5490
Fresno County RecorderFresno, CA 559.488.2609
Glenn County ClerkWillows, CA 530.934.6407
Humboldt County RecorderEureka, CA707.445.7593
Imperial County RecorderEl Centro, CA760.339.4427
Inyo County RecordsIndependence, CA760.878.0410
Kern County ClerkBakersfield, CA805.868.3588
Kings County ClerkHanford, CA559.582.3211
Lake County ClerkLakeport, CA 707.263.2293
Lassen County RecorderSusanville, CA530.251.8217
Los Angeles County ClerkNorwalk, CA562.462.2137
Madera County ClerkMadera, CA209.675.7724
Marin County RecorderSan Rafael, CA 415.499.6092
Mariposa County RecorderMariposa, CA209.966.2007
Mendocino County ClerkUkiah, CA 707.463.4370
Merced County RecorderMerced, CA209.385.7501
Modoc County ClerkAlturas, CA530.233.2512
Mono County RecorderBridgeport, CA 760.932.5241
Monterey CountySalinas, CA831.647.7906
Napa County ClerkNapa, CA 707.253.4246
Nevada County ClerkNevada City, CA 530.265.1221
Placer County ClerkAuborn, CA 530.889.7948
Plumas County RecorderQuincy, CA 530.283.6305
Riverside County ClerkRiverside, CA 909.486.7000
Sacramento County ClerkSacramento, CA916.874.5522
San Benito County ClerkHollister, CA831.636.4029
San Bernardino RecorderSan Bernardino, CA909.387.8314
San Diego CountySan Diego, CA619.237.0502
San Francisco CountySan Francisco, CA 415.554.4176
Orleans Town ClerkAlbion, NY 716.589.5100
San Joaquin ClerkStockton, CA 209.468.2362
San Luis Obispo CountySan Luis Obispo, CA805.781.5088
San Mateo County ClerkRedwood City, CA 650.363.4711
Santa Barbara County ClerkSanta Barbara, CA 805.568.2250
Santa Clara County RecorderSan Jose, CA408.299.2481
Santa Cruz County RecorderSanta Cruz, CA831.454.2800
Shasta County ClerkRedding, CA 530.225.5378
Sierra County RecorderDownieville, CA530.289.3295
Siskiyou County ClerkUreka, CA916.842.8084
Solano County RecorderFairfield, CA 707.421.6319
Sonoma County ClerkSanta Rosa, CA 707.527.3800
Stanislaus County ClerkModesto, CA 209.525.5265
Sutter County RecorderYuba City, CA 530.822.7120
Tehama County RecorderRed Bluff, CA916.527.3350
Trinity County RecorderWeaverville, CA916.623.1222
Tulare County ClerkVisalia, CA559.733.6518
Tuolumne County ClerkSonora, CA209.533.5570
Ventura County RecorderVentura, CA 805.654.2263
Yolo County ClerkWoodland, CA 530.666.8130
Yuba County ClerkMarysville, CA 530.741.6341
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