California Marriage License FAQ

Planning Resources

Before you get swept up in the excitement of your big day, it’s important to understand the basics of obtaining a California marriage license. Luckily, California makes it easy for couples to say “I do” without any residency requirements. As long as both you and your partner are over 18 years of age, you’re good to go!

In addition to being welcoming to couples from all over the world, California is also proud to support same-sex marriage. It’s a state that celebrates love in all its forms. And you can rest assured that your marriage will be both legal and recognized. So go ahead and snap that breathtaking shot. With a California marriage license, your love story is officially off to a great start!

Applying for a California Marriage License

Getting married in California is a popular choice for many couples. One of the benefits of getting married in California is that there is no waiting period for marriage licenses. This means that as soon as you receive your license, you can go ahead and tie the knot right away! Not having to wait can make the process much smoother and stress-free. Especially if you’re traveling in from out of state.

Pre-Ceremony Steps

  1. Visit the County Clerk’s office together. Appointments are necessary.
  2. Bring valid photo identification (passport, driver’s license), if applicable, divorce records.
  3. Pay the application fee, which varies by county.
  4. When obtaining your marriage license, be prepared to know which last name you decide once you become legally married. 
  5. NOW it’s time to GET MARRIED!

Types of California Marriage Licenses

There are two types of marriage licenses in California a public marriage license and a confidential marriage license. It’s important to do your research and select the marriage license that’s best for you.

Public Marriage Licenses

If you decide to get a public marriage license your marriage record is accessible by public record. And you need at least one witness to also sign your marriage license along with your officiant. Most couples opt for this license and they usually have important people in their lives sign as their witness(es).

Confidential Marriage Licenses

One major benefit of a confidential marriage license is that your marriage record remains confidential. This means that it is not a matter of public record and can only be accessed by you, your spouse, or authorized parties. If you value your privacy and don’t want your marriage details easily accessible to others, this could be a great option. Additionally, with a confidential marriage license, you don’t need to have any witnesses present at your ceremony. Although you can have up to two witnesses if you choose, it’s not required.

Overall, a confidential marriage license can offer some added peace of mind and flexibility for your wedding day

Elopement Locations, Licenses, and Permits

The Golden State offers some of the most romantic and stunning locations to tie the knot. Whether you’re looking for a serene and intimate setting or a bustling urban backdrop, California has it all.

However, it’s important to note that some of the most iconic elopement locations in California may have specific regulations and permit requirements. For instance, if you’re planning to exchange vows at Big Sur, you might need to secure a permit from the California State Parks Department. Similarly, if you’re dreaming of saying “I do” in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, you’ll need to obtain a permit from the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department. But don’t worry, with a little bit of research and preparation, you can navigate these requirements smoothly and make your wedding day unforgettable.

Official Marriage License Ceremony

Besides the location for your wedding day, the ceremony essentials for a valid marriage license include: 

Officiants: Licensed ministers, judges, and even some online ministers can solemnize your marriage.

Witnesses: You’ll need one to two witnesses, for a standard public marriage license. If you’d like for your elopement to just be the two of you ask your photographer if they’re ordained and can ask as your officiant as no witnesses are needed.

Post-Ceremony Steps

After saying “I do”, you have to remember to complete these 3 steps for a valid marriage. 

  1. The officiant will sign the marriage license. 
  1. Then file your license with the County Clerk’s office where it was issued.
  1. Obtain certified copies for legal purposes.

It’s important if traveling to California to plan your trip accordingly. Be sure to make an appointment and pick up your license within that timeframe.

Being informed about the latest California marriage license regulations is crucial for enjoying a seamless California wedding day. Whether it is a large celebration or an intimate elopement. Lucky for you, you’ve got the scoop on the 2023 California marriage license requirements, so you can relax and enjoy your special day with your loved one. Get ready to have a beautiful celebration of love in the Golden State!

Let’s Dive Into the Exciting Details of Getting You Newlywed Hands on that OH-SO Important Marriage Certificate at the iconic San Francisco City Hall

I just can’t help but fangirl over a beautiful San Francisco City Hall wedding day. With its stunning architecture and grandeur, it’s no wonder that it has become one of my specialties as a San Francisco elopement photographer. From the intricate details of the ceremony to the intimate reception, I love working with couples to capture the perfect day that will be cherished forever.

If you’re planning on getting married in San Francisco City Hall, I have some insider knowledge to share with you on how to obtain your marriage certificate. Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it may seem! With a little bit of preparation and some guidance, you can easily obtain your certificate and be on your way to a beautiful wedding day. Let me help you make your dream wedding a reality in San Francisco’s historic City Hall.

SF City Hall Marriage License Steps & Tips

Getting a California marriage license is the first step towards your happily ever after. So, don’t let the paperwork stress you out – it’s all part of the fun! You’ll have that California marriage license in hand within 90 minutes. 

  1. Make an appointment at your local San Francisco county clerk’s office
  2. Bring valid photo identification (passport, driver’s license), if applicable, divorce records for each party involved in the marriage
  3. Be prepare to provide a valid form of payment. Pay the application fee for a San Francisco marriage license, which is currently $113. 
  4. Complete a public of confidential marriage application.
  5. If you plan to purchase your marriage license on the same day as your ceremony reservation, you must make and pay for a marriage license reservation for the same day at least 30 minutes PRIOR to your ceremony reservation time.

For example, if your ceremony reservation is 10:00 a.m., your marriage license reservation should be scheduled no later than 9:30 a.m.

  • If a marriage license has already been purchased, confirm it is valid by checking  the expiration date of your marriage license prior to making the ceremony reservation.

San Francisco’s iconic City Hall offers couples the chance to tie the knot in a civil marriage ceremony. Or domestic partnership ceremony, officiated by a Commissioner from the Office of the County Clerk. If you’re planning an intimate celebration with six guests or fewer, simply schedule an appointment at City Hall. However, for larger gatherings and special occasions like weekends and holidays, you’ll need to reserve a space through City Hall Events. Get ready to say “I do” in the historical beauty of San Francisco’s City Hall.

If San Francisco City Hall isn’t your vibe there are so many gorgeous places in San Francisco that can be your backdrop.

Final Thoughts

Bypass the City Hall ceremony and explore the many alternative locations available to you. Take charge of your wedding planning by organizing all off-site arrangements, including venue reservations, permits, and any additional logistics. Familiarize yourself with the diverse range of captivating venues that San Francisco has to offer and make your wedding an unforgettable experience.

Whichever experience you decide, you must make sure that you have your marriage license at the time of the ceremony and that your ceremony is performed by an authorized person. It is necessary to hold your marriage ceremony within the 90-day period following the receipt of your marriage license. This time frame is important in order to ensure that your marriage is legally recognized by the state of California. So make it official!

Meet Your San Francisco Elopement Photographer

San Francisco City Hall photographer Torez Marguerite.

Hi there! I’m Torez, your go-to San Francisco Wedding Photographer who adores capturing the essence of your unique love story. Just like you, I’m deeply in love – with the city, the architecture, and most importantly, making your dream intimate wedding or elopement a breathtaking reality.

Here are some rapid-fire facts that are important to know:

  1. My signature style as a photographer is fun, vibrant, and timeless! You can expect true-to-life photos that organically document your wedding or elopement experience
  2. I have two dogs – Marley and Seymour – and I will always advocate for you to bring your pup on your big day 
  3. I was born and raised in the Bay Area for all my 27 years of life (except for my college years spent in Upstate New York, but then I came right back) so I know this gorgeous slice of California like the back of my hand 

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Hi I'm Torez, a die-hard romantic and San Francisco-based wedding photographer with years of experience capturing love stories against the backdrop of our charming city. From intimate City Hall ceremonies to epic coastal elopements, I've seen and photographed it all. I know the ins and outs of navigating wedding planning in San Francisco like the back of my hand - from selecting the perfect location that aligns with your love story, to creating the dreamiest wedding timeline that lets you enjoy your day to the fullest. And guess what? I'm sharing all of that expertise right here with you.

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