In order to get married, you must get a marriage license. You can get a license from the County Clerk/Recorder of any county in California and it is valid anywhere in California for 90 days.
The process of getting your Marriage License has been changing due to COVID-19. When it’s time to get your license, please check with your county clerk/recorder to find out the current procedure.
There are two types of licenses: Public or Confidential. Ask the clerk for specific differences but basically, the public license requires 1 or 2 witnesses, a confidential license doesn’t require a witness (less chance for a mistake). See below for more details.
Once you get your license, hold on to your license and give it to me on the day of the wedding, before the ceremony. If you require a witness, I'll supervise them to sign the license, I fill in my portion and then file the license with the county Clerk/Recorder. Within 2-14 days the county will record the license and it goes into the records.
If it is just the two of you and you don't have a witness, get a Confidential License which does not require a witness.
In a nutshell, you get the license and I take care of the rest!
IMPORTANT: After your marriage license records, you will not receive any confirmation or proof of marriage from the county recorder. For insurance, Social Security and DMV and you will need Certified Copies of your marriage license. But you can't get a Certified Copy until after the license is filed with the county clerk and recorded.
So when you get your license, ask the clerk to simply notarize the "Request for a Certified Copy" form so that you can mail it in 2 weeks after the wedding. This will save you a trip back to the Recorder's office just to have the form notarized. Some clerks will do this for you, some won't, but it can save you the time and expense of a notary.
Here are links to some county clerk websites:
There are two types of marriage licenses commonly issued in California, a Public marriage license and a Confidential marriage license.
Public Marriage License:
You must be at least 18 years old. Persons under 18 with written consent from at least one parent (or legal guardian) AND permission from a California Superior Court Judge may marry. Emancipated minors are NOT exempt from this process. Contact the County Superior Court at (805) 781-5243 for further information regarding these requirements.
The marriage license may be obtained from any county in California. You are not required to get married in the county where you purchase the public marriage license; however, you must be married in California. You must file the license in the county where it was purchased.
You must have at least one witness present at your ceremony. The license contains a place for two witnesses if you prefer. You may NOT have more than two witnesses sign the official marriage license. There is no age requirement in California for witnesses, however, they must be old enough to know that they are witnessing a marriage ceremony, AND be able to sign their name on the official marriage license.
A public marriage license is a public record from which anyone can obtain the information and a copy. A certified copy for the purpose of establishing identity can only be issued to an authorized person indicated on the request for a marriage record.
Confidential Marriage License:
The participating parties must be at least 18 years old to apply for a confidential marriage license. Minors may NOT purchase a confidential marriage license.
The participating parties must be living together as spouses at the time they apply for the marriage license.
You are not required to get married in the county where you purchase the confidential marriage license; however, you must be married in California. You must file the license in the county where it was purchased.
No witnesses are required to be at the ceremony, AND no witnesses sign on the marriage license.
A confidential marriage license is a confidential record and is registered at the county clerk’s office in the county where it was purchased. Only the couple may purchase copies of the marriage license and must present valid picture identification together with the required fee. Persons other than the married couple requesting copies of a confidential marriage license may only do so by presenting a court order. The only information available to the public is that the marriage exists.