How to Get Married in California

So, you've planned a lovely wedding, stayed within your budget, and and now you're ready for the actual getting married part of the process. But how? Don't worry, Tulle Nation, I've got you taken care of. Each week this year, I'll be sharing all the information you need to know to get married in one state in the United States. Today, California!

So, you've planned a lovely wedding, stayed within your budget, and and now you're ready for the actual getting married part of the process. But how? Don't worry, Tulle Nation, I've got you taken care of. Each week this year, I'll be sharing all the information you need to know to get married in one state in the United States. Today, California!

How to Get Married in California

Application, ID, and Residency Requirement: You do not need to be a California resident to marry in California. To marry in California, the two parties may not be already married to each other or other individuals. Marriage by proxy is NOT allowed in California. Family Code, Section 420(a) requires the two parties, marriage officiant and witness if applicable, be physically present together in the same location for the marriage to be performed.

Blood tests are NOT required to obtain a marriage license in California. Both parties must appear in person and bring valid picture identification to the County Clerk’s Office to apply for a marriage license in California. Valid picture identification is one that contains a photograph, date of birth, and an issue and expiration date, such as a state issued identification card, drivers license, passport, military identification, etc. Some counties may also require a copy of your birth certificate.

If you have been married before, you will need to know the specific date your last marriage ended, and how it ended (Death, Dissolution, Divorce or Nullity). Some counties may require a copy of the final judgment if your previous marriage ended by dissolution or nullity.

How Much a Marriage License Cost?: All fees and hours of issuance for a marriage license may vary by county.

Under 18: Males age 17 or females ages 16 or 17, may be married with parental consent. (For more information on this call your local county court house in Arkansas).

Officiants: Many County Clerks in California perform civil marriage ceremonies in their offices. For further information regarding civil marriage ceremonies, please contact the County Clerk’s Office directly to see if they provide this service. California Family Code, Section 400 states the persons authorized to solemnize marriage ceremonies in California are as follows:

  • A priest, minister, or rabbi of any religious denomination.
  • 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 from office.
  • Any of the following judges or magistrates of the United States.
  • A justice or retired justice of the United States Supreme Court.
  • 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.
  • A judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy court or a tax court.
  • A United States magistrate or retired magistrate.
  • 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.

The person solemnizing the marriage must return the original marriage license to the County Clerk or County Recorder as applicable within 10 days of the date of the ceremony. Addresses should be on the county site. You will NOT receive a copy of your marriage license after you have been married unless you request and pay for a certified copy from the County Clerk or County Recorder as applicable.

ALL information on the marriage license MUST be legible, unambiguous and reproducible. DO NOT change any information on the license, cross out information, use white out, etc., as that will require the payment for and issuance of a duplicate marriage license. Contact the County Clerk’s Office if you have questions about completing the marriage license and/or incorrect information contained on the marriage license.

Valid: Marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance. If you do not get married within 90 days, the license will no longer be valid. You must purchase a new license.

Equality Rights: Same-sex marriage is legal in California.

Name Change: Getting a marriage license with your new name on it does not mean your name has automatically changed.

It is very important that you verify all information with your local marriage license office or county clerk before making any wedding or travel plans.

For information on obtaining a wedding license, call (916) 558-1784. For information on getting married in a California State Park, click here.

Please Note: State and county marriage license requirements often change. The above information is for guidance only and should not be regarded as legal advice. For more detailed information click here.

How many of you are getting married in California?

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