bride and groom walking back down the aisle together

California Wedding License

Many things about getting married are a personal preference and are completely optional. Getting a marriage license isn’t one of those things. In order to be legally married, you must obtain a wedding license. In this post, Ill talk about where to get one, how long it takes and all the information you need to know about getting a wedding license in California.

Where To Get A Wedding License

In California, you apply for a marriage license at any county clerk recorder’s office. It does not need to be in the county in which you will be getting married. You also do not need to be a resident of California to get married in California and blood tests are not required.

You must both be present when applying for a license and have a valid ID. There is a fee which varies from county to county. As per the California Department Of Public Health’s Vital Records page, you will not receive a copy of your marriage license after it is complete unless you request and pay for a copy to be mailed to you.

bride smiling up at her groom during the wedding ceremony

How Long Will It Take To Receive The Marriage License?

In most cases, the clerk will give you your license immediately. As long as you have filled out all necessary forms, paid the fee and signed the paperwork, you’ll walk out of the county clerk’s office with your license to get married.

You can request a certified copy of the license 7-10 days after the wedding. It will arrive in the mail shortly after.

Who Signs The Marriage License?

It’s a common misconception that after the ceremony, the bride and groom need to sign the license. You don’t. You will have already signed it in the county clerk’s office.

After the ceremony, the officiant will have two witnesses sign the paper, not the bride and groom. Typically, the maid (or matron) of honor and the best man are the ones who sign, but it can be anyone who witnessed the ceremony. I’ve even signed a few times!

California has recently removed this requirement altogether. Currently, no one needs to sign as a witness to your wedding ceremony at all.
bride and groom holding hands during the wedding ceremony

Who Returns The Signed License?

In California, your officiant is the one who mails the signed wedding license back to the county clerk for recording. Your officiant is legally required to file your license within 10 days, but most send it the first business day after the ceremony.

Quick Info

  • Marriage licensed are valid for 90 days only
  • You and your fiance must both apply in person at any county clerk recorder’s office
  • No blood test is required
  • If either of you have been married before, bring proof that you are not longer legally married
  • You must bring your marriage license to the wedding
  • Some counties require you to bring your birth certificate

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