How to Get a Marriage License in California

December 3, 2023

California, with its breathtaking coastlines, majestic mountains, and enchanting forests, provides an idyllic backdrop for couples seeking a truly magical wedding experience. From the state’s natural beauty to it’s stunning venues, the Golden State is full of enchanting settings for your special day. But before you say “I do,” you’ll need to understand how to make things official with a California Marriage License.

Table of Contents

Types of California Marriage Licenses

In California, there are two types of marriage licenses available: a public marriage license and a confidential marriage license. The key distinction between the two lies in the privacy of the information provided and who may access the records.

Public Marriage License: This type of license is available to all couples and requires the information to be made publicly accessible.
Confidential Marriage License: A confidential marriage license is only available to couples who are already living together and intend to continue living together. The information on the marriage license is kept confidential and is not made part of the public record.

Where to Apply for a Marriage License

To obtain a marriage license in California, couples must visit the County Clerk’s office in the county where they plan to marry. Generally you will need to go to the office in person, but each county has its own procedures and requirements, so it’s essential to contact the specific County Clerk’s office for accurate information.

Documentation Needed

When applying for a marriage license in California, couples are required to provide the following documentation:

  • Valid government-issued photo identification
  • Social Security numbers (or individual taxpayer identification numbers) for each party
  • Proof of dissolution of any previous marriage (if applicable)
  • About $95. The fees vary per county, and it is typically collected at your in-person appointment.

Waiting Periods and Witnesses

In California, there is no waiting period after obtaining a marriage license before the wedding ceremony can take place. Once issued, the marriage license remains valid for a period of 90 days, providing couples with flexibility in planning their ceremony within the given timeframe.

Public Marriage License: There must be at least one witness at your ceremony, however there is space for two witnesses to sign. PS. Your photographer can also be your witness! I’ve signed as a witness for so many of my couples who eloped!

Confidential Marriage License: no witnesses are required to attend or to sign the license.

There is no age requirement for witnesses in California, but the witness needs to understand what they are witnessing and signing, as well as sign their name without any assistance.

California Elopement Packages

As your guide and photo + video team, we are here to help you along the whole process of eloping and allowing your day to unfold seamlessly. Here’s to the start of your greatest adventure—in California and beyond!

Here’s what we offer:

  • Packages ranging from 3 hours to full day coverage
  • Digital + 35mm photographs
  • Digital + Super 8 video
  • a 90+ page elopement planning guide
  • Pre-wedding consultations
  • All travel is included

Packages start at $2600 for just photo & $4600 for photo + video

Check out our full pricing and package information here!

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