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.

5 Wedding Poems By Black Poets

In honor of Black Poetry Day, let’s talk about wedding poetry by Black poets. Here are five beautiful selections for your consideration.

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1.You Came Too, Nikki Giovani

I came to the crowd seeking friends
I came to the crowd seeking love
I came to the crowd for understanding

I found you

I came to the crowd to weep
I came to the crowd to laugh

You dried my tears
You shared my happiness

I went from the crowd seeking you
I went from the crowd seeking me
I went from the crowd forever

You came, too

2 Desire, Alice Walker

My desire is always the same; wherever Life deposits me: 

I want to stick my toe
& soon my whole body
into the water. 

I want to shake out a fat broom
& sweep dried leaves
bruised blossoms
dead insects & dust. 

I want to grow
something. It seems impossible that desire can sometimes transform into devotion; but this has happened. 

And that is how I’ve survived:
how the hole I carefully tended
in the garden of my heart
grew a heart to fill it

3. Invitation To Love,  Paul Laurence Dunbar

Come when the nights are bright with stars 

Or come when the moon is mellow; 

Come when the sun his golden bars 

Drops on the hay-field yellow. 

Come in the twilight soft and gray, 

Come in the night or come in the day, 

Come, O love, whene’er you may, 

And you are welcome, welcome. 

You are sweet, O Love, dear Love, 

You are soft as the nesting dove. 

Come to my heart and bring it to rest 

As the bird flies home to its welcome nest. 

Come when my heart is full of grief 

Or when my heart is merry; 

Come with the falling of the leaf 

Or with the redd’ning cherry. 

Come when the year’s first blossom blows, 

Come when the summer gleams and glows, 

Come with the winter’s drifting snows, 

And you are welcome, welcome

4. Touched By An Angel, Maya Angelou

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life. 

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls. 

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free

5.  And I Have You, Nikki Giovanni 

Rain has drops
Sun has shine
Moon has beams
That make you mine
Rivers have banks
Sands for shores
Hearts have heartbeats
That make me yours
Needles have eyes
Though pins may prick
Elmer has glue
To make things stick
Winter has Spring
Stockings feet
Pepper has mint
To make it sweet
Teachers have lessons
Soup du jour
Lawyers sue bad folks
Doctors cure
All and all
This much is true
You have me
And I have you

Inspirations For Your Biker Themed Elopement

October 14 is National Motorcycle Ride Day so let’s talk about inspirations for the bride who’s wedding dreams are less Will & Kate and more Easy Rider.

California beaches and national parks provide the perfect backdrop for the free spirited, rebel nature of a biker elopement. If you’d rather ride off into the future on the back of your new husband’s Harley than in the backseat of the wedding getaway car,  then I know you’ll enjoy these photos borrowed from styled shoots that appear on Southern California Bride and Green Wedding Shoes.  All photos remain the property of their rightful owners.

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Motorcycle Elopement,  Los Angeles wedding officiant
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Motorcycle Elopement, Los Angeles wedding officiant
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Biker Elopement, Los Angeles wedding officiant
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Motorcycle Elopement,  Los Angeles wedding officiant ph
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Something Old, Something New, Something  Jurrassic: Dinosaur Bone Wedding Bands

Something Old, Something New, Something  Jurrassic: Dinosaur Bone Wedding Bands

October 11 is National Fossil Day, so let’s talk about wedding bands made of fossilized dinosaur bone, petrified wood and meteorite. Pretty awesome, right?

Dinosaur Bone wedding rings, los angeles wedding officiants
Women’s wedding band by Jewelry by Johan

Diamonds may be forever but fossilized dinosaur bone is also pretty high on the durability scale. Jeweler Johan creates beautiful wedding sets from dinosaur bone said to be from the Morrison Formation in Utah: a site that dates back 65, 000,000 years to the Jurrasic era. Aailable designs also incorporate fossilized wood, elk antlers and meteorites.

Dinosaur bone wedding rings, Los Angeles wedding officiant s
Engagement rings and wedding bands from Jewelry by Johan

But Jewelry by Johan isn’t the only jeweler to offer Jurrassic jewelry. This men’s wedding band, featuring an inlay of dyed red dinosaur bone is the creation of Brilliance: a leading maker of wedding and engagement rings from conflict free diamonds and alternative materials.

Men’s band with red dinosaur bone inlay by Brilliance.
Meteorite wedding band set, Los Angeles wedding officiants
Meteorite wedding and engagement ring from Reico Designs

This beautiful bridal set is made of meteorite and set with a black diamond. It’s offered by Recio Designs, a company that promises no two rings are ever the same. According to the company’s website the meteor used to create this set is “over 4 billion years old, literally older than dirt.” 

As an anthropologist I would love ti wear a ring made of dinosaur bone and meteorite. I may get one for my right hand. Let me know what you think in the comments

Choosing The Right Wedding Handbag

October 10 is National Handbag Day, so let’s talk about choosing the right hand bag to accentuate your wedding day look.

Wedding handbags, Los Angeles wedding officiant s
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On most days we ladies would be lost without our purses and handbags. Face it, we carry our lives in our purses so the wedding day is no time to be without this most important of items. But on the other hand, are we really going to carry around our favorite Michael Kors bag at the wedding reception? That  would “not” be a good look in the wedding photos.

Bridal bags to the rescue. A good bridal bag is big enough to hold your cosmetics and a small mirror for your all important touch-ups as well as your cell phone in case you want to snap a selfie with the new spouse or with your bridesmaids, but it is not so big as to be cumbersome.

Your wedding handbag should also compliment your wedding gown; meaning it is made of a similar fabric and in a complimentary color and with similar embellishment such as beads and sequins.

How To Have A  Meaningful Atheist Wedding

Atheist weddings, Los Angeles,  Los Angeles wedding officiant
International Symbol of Atheism

Merriam-Webster online defines atheism  as a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods “or” a philosophical or religious position chacterized by disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods. It defines an Atheist as a person who subscribes to or advocates atheism.

The belief in God or gods is at the center of most religions and belief systems. These religions and belief systems in turn lay the foundations for ritualized life cycle celebrations— such as weddings, funerals, baby blessings and bar/bat mitzvahs—that offer a sense of belonging, community and make life meaningful to  their adherants.

So where does that leave the wedding couple that is Atheist or for other reasons wants to have a wedding that does not acknowledge the existence of God yet still be meaningful ? If you, dear Atheist, feel that your only option is  a cold courthouse style wedding–bereft of any sense of joy, community or the ritualized pagentry of a church wedding–I’m happy to tell you that you are wrong.

Atheist weddings, Los Angeles wedding officiants. African-American Wedding Officiants

While a religious wedding is a celebration of religious tradition, an Athiest wedding has the potential to be a celebration of love and joy. Whereas a religious wedding ceremony usually focuses on “God’s” rules concerning marriage, an Atheist celebration is free to focus on you and how you view marriage. In this type of ceremony you have greater freedom of expression that allows you to include music, readings and traditions that may not be allowed in a more traditional ceremony but hold great meaning for you. An Atheist ceremony will also allow you to invite friends and family to participate in your wedding ceremony in non-conforming ways.

At it’s simplist the word  atheist means “without God” so an Atheist wedding ceremony is one that does not mention God or any Higher Power. Many of my couples are interfaith or don’t follow any particular religious doctrine. They thus choose a ceremony that avoids reference to any form of Deity as a way to avoid discomfort or resentment on either side of the aisle.

Atheist weddings are structured much the same as religious weddings. Your officiant  will begin with an opening or welcome, usually followed by words that reflect your shared values, your hopes and intentions for your marriage and your vows to each other. There may also be readings from poetry, historical or current events or cultural references that are relevant  your wedding ceremony. Friends  and family may participate as readers or they may sing songs that are important to either partner.

As the ceremony draws to a close, the officiant may perform secular versions of such wedding traditions as the unity candle or wedding lasso. An experienced officiant can secularize almost any typically religious unity ceremony or may opt for something that is less likely to be viewed as religious, such as a sand blending. This is also the segment where cultural traditions like jumping the broom may be added.

You will then be prounouced as married before your friends, family and guests. As you can see, just because Atheist means without God is no reason that your Atheist wedding has to be without the joy, beauty, meaning and sense of community that is inspired by a religious wedding.