Cali Officiants provides legal marriage services, elopements, and wedding officiants in California, in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond! Many of our couples ask us for guidance and assistance getting a marriage license in California, which we happily include here for your reference. Please note that this information is true and correct to the best of our knowledge, and we do our best to maintain the most up-to-date information based on the law and our experience marrying couples. Cali Officiants is not responsible for any losses due to inaccurate or outdated information on this website – if you find that any of our information is incorrect, please contact us and we will update our site!
How to Obtain a Marriage License in California
Regular (Public) California Marriage License Requirements
- You may obtain your license at any County Clerk’s office in California. You do not need to obtain your license in the county where you live, or the county where you’ll be married. We recommend that you call the County Clerk’s office to see if they suggest setting an appointment to obtain your license, in some counties there are long lines depending on the location, day, and time you go.
- Both parties (you and your fiancé(e)) must apply in person together at any County Clerk’s office. Bring an unexpired photo ID such as driver’s license or passport to verify your identities. Some counties recommend bringing certified copies of your birth certificates. You must also know your parents’ names, mothers’ maiden names, and places of their birth in order to apply. We recommend contacting that clerk’s office prior to going there to make sure you have all the documents and information you need to apply.
- California marriage licenses are only valid for 90 days, so you must obtain your marriage license within the 90 days immediately prior to your wedding date.
- No blood test is required.
- There is no waiting period. The clerk will give you your license immediately.
- If you have been married before, you must show proof of divorce, death or annulment.
- The cost for applying varies by county, and some counties will only accept cash payments.
- After your ceremony, your officiant is legally required to file your license within 10 days.
- Generally, couples are permitted to submit requests for certified copies beginning 7 days after the wedding date. Instructions for obtaining certified copies are included in your marriage license packet.
- DON’T FORGET! Make sure you bring your marriage license on your wedding day – your officiant cannot legally marry you if your license is not physically present before they begin your ceremony. Your officiant will file it with the county on your behalf, and the county will mail it back to you within a few weeks to confirm that everything is official.
California Confidential Marriage License Requirements
Per the California Department of Public Health:
- 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, and must sign an affidavit on the license attesting to those facts.
- 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.
The 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 to the County Clerk in order to do so. Persons other than the married couple requesting copies of a confidential marriage license may only do so by presenting a court order to the County Clerk in the county where the license is registered. Fees for California confidential marriage license vary by county. In some counties it is more expensive than a public license, in others it is the same price.
California Name Change After Marriage
(Applies to both public (normal) and confidential marriage licenses)
- The “Name Equality Act of 2007” allows one (or both) parties applying for a marriage license in California to change their middle and/or last name, which takes effect after the marriage has been solemnized (after you’re actually married, not after you apply).
- The decision to change your name must be made at the time you apply for a marriage license. That means you need to think about it and decide whether to change your name BEFORE you go to the county clerk to apply.
California Marriage Laws
For the most up-to-date information and requirements for obtaining a marriage license in California, visit the San Francisco County Clerk’s FAQ Page. They generally do an excellent job of keeping their website updated with the current laws and procedures.
Bay Area County Clerk Offices
San Francisco Marriage License
San Francisco County Clerk (Marriage Licenses)
Online Marriage License Reservations [LINK]
Marriage License Forms [LINK]
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, City Hall Room 168
San Francisco, CA 94102-4678
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00AM – 4:00PM (San Francisco requires an appointment to get a marriage license – you can’t just show up)
Santa Clara County Clerk (Marriage Licenses)
Online Marriage License Application [LINK]
70 W. Hedding Street
First Floor, East Wing
San Jose, CA 95110
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00AM – 4:30PM
Sonoma County Clerk (Marriage Licenses)
Online Marriage Application [LINK]
585 Fiscal Dr., Room 103
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00AM – 4:00PM (Closes at 3pm once per week)
Finding a Wedding Officiant in California
After you’ve applied for and obtained your marriage license, you’ll need someone to perform your ceremony! Cali Officiants offers several packages for getting married in California, from simple legal marriages, elopements, and full-scale custom wedding ceremonies. Please visit our California Wedding Officiants page for more information. Thank you!