How Do I Obtain A California Marriage License?

How to obtain a california marriage license, Los Angeles wedding officiants, African-American Wedding Officiants

If you are getting married in the State of California you’ll be happy to know that California maariage license  regulations are some of the easiest in the United States. For example:

  1. There is no blood test required.
  2. There is no waiting period. You can get married literally the minute after you receive your license.
  3. Only one witness is required. Make that 0 witnesses if you opt for the confidential license.
  4. You can get a confidential license if you and your partner currently live together. The confidential license cost less and there are no laws that specify how long you have to have been living together.
  5. Without a court order, the confidential license is not viewable by anyone other than the parties to the marriage
  6. You can start the application process online. This is a huge advantage for couples coming from out of state.
  7. The public license can be used in any county within the State of California.

California marriage licences are obtained from the County Clerk’s offices of California counties. The website for the Los Angeles County Clerk is To obtain more details on the process of obtaining a California marriage license as well as to find the web addresses to the County Clerks of other Southern California counties, please visit the wedding license information section of my wedding officiant website at

Three important points to remember are:

  1. The County Clerk initially issues to you a “license” to be married.  The  “certificate” of marriage is issued after your properly executed license is  received and recorded by the County Clerk’s office.
  2. It is the responsibility of your wedding officiant to return your marriage license to the CountyClerk within 10 days of your wedding ceremony. 
  3. Your marriage license is only valid for 90 days from the date of issue by the County Clerk.

Must You Have A Ceremony To Marry In California?

California marriage laws, Los Angeles wedding officiant
Photo credit: Connie Jones-Steward

From time to time during my many years as a Los Angeles wedding officiant I have been asked if a ceremony is needed to be legally married in the State of California. These wedding clients have wondered if they could just meet with me and have me sign the license.

The answer lies in what you consider a ceremony. While it’s  true that the California’s Family Code requires a “ceremony” for a marriage to be legal section 420(a) makes it clear that there is no legally required format for the ceremony. Specifically section 420 (a) of the Family Code reads:”No particular form for the ceremony of marriage is required for solemnization of the marriage, but the parties shall declare, in the physical presence of the person solemnizing the marriage and necessary witnesses, that they take each other as spouses.” That means that I can legally marry two people by simply receiving an answer of “yes” or “I do” to the question “Do you Mary take John to be your husband?”.

There are various legitimate reasons that a couple would want such a ceremony. For example, the couple pictured below had a legally non-binding ceremony earlier in the day followed by my officiating  a “Simple I do” ceremony as part of their evening Halloween party.

California marriage laws, Los Angeles wedding officiants, African-American Wedding Officiant
Photo credit: Connie Jones-Steward

Other reasons include that they are marrying for insurance or tax purposes or one partner is deploying soon. In these cases there are usually plans for a more formal ceremony in the future.